News: Dive Team operates in Deep Blue
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
KUWAIT NAVAL BASE, Kuwait -- Soldiers assigned to the 511th Engineer Dive Detachment conducted a two-week training exercise suitably named Deep Blue. During their training April 8, the detachment was able to include a real-world task into the day’s operation.
The divers were underwater for more than an hour performing an evaluation of an underwater obstruction. As the supervisor requested the divers to return a cry of pain sounds out over the communication system. A diver was stung by a sea urchin and was in excruciating pain.
The diver kept expressing how painful the sting was, his supervisor kept assuring him to stay calm and return to the surface; as the divers sat down they were quickly stripped down to their trunks and rushed into a decompression chamber to begin their dive recovery and get treated. The urchin sting was a simulation but to bystanders it was perceived to be real.
The exercise kicked off as the dive detachment was notified by their Kuwaiti counterpart that there was a large object that needed to be removed from below the water’s surface.
“Our main goal is to get our younger guys trained on tasks, then we shift focus to give our supervisors their unlimited check offs,” said 1st Lt. Zachary Chrismon, the detachments executive officer and native of Garner, N.C. “We kind of hone in on their skills as supervisors and their ability to supervise divers on the bottom doing work.”
“The Kuwaitis told us there’s a concrete obstruction at the bottom of the port. We’re performing a recon to get accurate measurements,” said Chrismon, who has been a diver for one year. “Once we have the measurements, we look at the weight to determine best methods to lift it out.”
Chrsimon elaborated on what the training goal was for the detachment and everyone who played a role in the day’s events.
“Scenarios are constructed from a master diver position and the divers are briefed while the supervisors are secluded so they are not aware of what’s going on,” said Chrismon.
“Typically [for scenarios] you will see underwater issues such as lost divers, trapped divers and found divers. Also, dive disorders such as things that occur when a diver omits decompression or they may receive some mechanical injury on the bottom. It’s that supervisors job to look at the scenario, take in the situation and put in the correct protocols based on the Navy diving manual they’ve been taught by,” he added.
Sgt. Matthew Tommaso, a salvage diver and native of Carle Place, N.Y., is using this exercise to train for the next level.
“I’m practicing to become a 1st class diver. So they’re letting me hold watches and evaluate situations, which are my next steps,” said Tommaso, who has been diving for five years. “I don’t get to dive as much anymore; it’s more for the training of the 2nd class divers who will be down in the water performing these operations.”
Chrismon spoke highly of his team as he was proud of their hard work and mission accomplishment.
“The NCO’s [noncommissioned officers] all the way from senior and junior enlisted are a solid group of individuals. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys,” said Chrismon. “They’re very confident in their abilities. This two-week training does nothing but solidify that confidence and their abilities to carry out their missions.”