USA: Underwater Construction Team 2 Returns from Deployment

Underwater Construction Team 2, Construction Diving Detachment Alpha completed a three-month deployment aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), Aug. 16.

Stationed in Port Hueneme, Calif., Det. Alpha was the first underwater construction divers to participate in Pacific Partnership, the largest disaster-response preparedness mission in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

Led by Chief Construction Mechanic Elisia Correa, a Seabee diver with 15 years of experience, the team conducted ten hydrographic surveys of over 870 acres of ocean floor and completed seven pier inspections, one bridge inspection and two engineering assessments in the Pacific island nations of Samoa, Tonga, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

Charts, graphs and pictures of the sea floor as well as recommendations for pier repair and salvage techniques were all results of the work completed by the five divers.

Builder 2nd Class Kyle Neuman said that many of the atolls have lagoons that do not get consistently washed out. As a result, they quickly become fouled by sand and coral that makes the lagoon a hazard to navigation.

“This makes it irregularly shallow in a bunch of areas,” said Neuman.

The information gathered by the divers is presented to local port authorities in the small island nations, providing critical knowledge for the numerous fishing vessels that frequent the islands.

Correa said that she hopes underwater construction team divers can be added to the advanced teams who arrive before the mission, so that real-time surveys can be provided to ship’s navigators.

“If we could have gone ahead of the ship to provide a survey for a navigational chart, we could have anchored a little closer to shore in some cases,” said Correa.

Born out of the response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated much of Indonesia, Pacific Partnership today is a collaborative effort of military members and nongovernmental organization volunteers to build maritime security and disaster response preparedness in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. Participants this year were from 10 partner nations that included Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and the United States.

This year’s mission had a focus on education and exchanges of information between experts, as well as engagements in the arenas of medical and dental care, veterinary services, underwater harbor surveys, community service events, engineering projects, disaster response events, explosive ordinance disposals and more.

Press Release, August 19, 2013