News: Philippine and US Navy Seabee divers conduct Joint Training during Exercise Balikatan 2014
By CEC (SCW/MDV) Terence Juergens
SANGLEY POINT, Philippines – “Green Diver, back down the latter until your helmet’s awash” – “Make it hot” and “Switch off” were some common phrases one could hear echo from the combined Philippine and U.S. Navy dive side. During the month of May both nations partnered in support of Subject Matter Expert Exchanges involving port/harbor recovery scenarios during this year’s Exercise Balikatan.
Throughout nine grueling days of high heat and periodic down pours Underwater Construction Team TWO trained eight Philippine Navy UCT divers on topics including; surface supplied diving systems and procedures, underwater cutting and welding techniques and procedures, diving casualty management and neurological examinations. From the makeshift classroom to underwater employment all PN Divers received immensely valuable training that goes hand in hand with the strategic goals of Balikatan 2014.
“The Philippino divers are outstanding, resourceful and very attentive,” said Builder 2nd Class (SCW/DV) Joseph Hophan, the project supervisor for UCT TWO’s Construction Diving Detachment Charlie (CDD/C). “We had to take a crawl, walk, run approach to our mission here in the Philippines. Diving is already very dangerous, when you add cutting and welding to the equation your focus shifts toward safety and the steps we take to mitigate risk. They did great and learned at an impressive rate.”
Each PN diver was given a project to practice various types of welds. Once they felt comfortable with what they learned during topside (dry) welding they were put to the test underwater. From proper terminology, electrode placement and speed they were able to experience how hard it is to weld underwater.
“I don’t think they realized how hard it was going to be,” said Construction Mechanic Second Class (SCW/EXW/DV) Nathan Emmett, lead welder, for Construction Diving Detachment Charlie. “Once you call for power it was lights out, the visibility goes to zero. I was surprised at how fast they learned.”
Along with cutting and welding underwater for the first time, the PN UCT divers were able to gain valuable knowledge on side scan sonar techniques and procedures.
“We were able to use their system and train them on what they have,” said Builder Second Class (SCW/DV) David Madmon, Hydrographic Survey Technician, Construction Diving Detachment Charlie. “I think it resonates more when you’re able to train them on a piece of equipment they already own, when we leave they can continue to practice what we taught them.”
From deployment to recovery PN UCT and UCT TWO divers surveyed over 5km of ocean floor.
“At the end of the day they were able to locate, mark and measure any object that was found,” said Madmon.
The closing ceremonies were filled with the sounds of sea stories and the sharing of local cuisine. With another Balikatan in the record books UCT TWO continues to solidify the already concrete bond between our good friends and deepsea brothers of the PN UCT’s – Hooyah Seabees, Hooyah deep sea!
UCT TWO’s CDDC participated in exercise Balikatan in the Philippines on their fourth of seven stops spanning six countries across the Pacific for members of Underwater Construction Team Two's Construction Dive Detachment Charlie. They'll be conducting inspection, maintenance and repair of various underwater and waterfront facilities along with participation in four PACFLT exercises during their six-month PACOM deployment.