News: Joint Underwater Concrete Placement - FOAL Eagle 2014
By CEC (SCW/MDV) Terence Juergens
CHINHAE, Republic of Korea – Fresh from the warm deep waters of Guam Seabee Divers from Underwater Construction Team (UCT) TWO arrived in Chinhae, South Korea, to participate in Exercise Foal Eagle 2014 (FE14).
Over a period of seven days UCT TWO and ROK Sea Salvage and Rescue Unit (SSU) divers worked hand in hand in support of harbor clearance/port recovery scenarios, with emphasis on the placement of underwater concrete. The Underwater Construction Team’s unique ability as Underwater Seabees and vast knowledge of waterfront structures helped facilitate the first underwater concrete placement in SSU history. From the classroom to the field both nations worked long tireless hours to complete construction of formwork and successfully place over 5 cubic meters of concrete underwater.
“The SSU divers are experts in salvage, they dive the same rigs, and use the same dive manual as we do. What we’re trying to do is provide them a taste of UCT capabilities,” said Construction Electrician First Class (SCW/DV) Daniel Luberto, the Leading Petty Officer (LPO) for Construction Diving Detachment Charlie. “The ROK SSU divers have very little underwater construction experience, but their motivation to learn, and strong work ethic helped us overcome many challenges to complete a successful training evolution.”
Along with the construction of training forms to practice different techniques of underwater concrete placement, UCT TWO developed a comprehensive training plan to further the understanding of how concrete can be used to repair damaged sections of piers. Both teams worked together to use wooden and steel formwork to encase a steel pier pile in concrete to enhance structural integrity. Using a surface supplied diving system and underwater hydraulic tools, divers prepped the steel pile by cleaning loose scale, rust and marine growth. Once the pile was clean the divers took precise measurements to fabricate the necessary forms.
“The biggest barrier with training was language,” said Builder Second Class (SCW/DV) Joseph Hophan, project supervisor. “But once we got in the water and started working everything fell into place and worked out great. We were able to complete so much in such a short time and I couldn’t be more happy how things unfolded.”
Once all formwork was complete and lowered in the water UCT divers used two topside forms to demonstrate the proper procedures of how to place underwater concrete.
“There’s a big difference to placing concrete on surface verses underwater,” said Hophan. “The ability to rehearse and show them topside was invaluable and definitely set us up doing the same thing underwater.”
With (two) Seabee divers and (two) SSU divers working together in the water, divers successfully placed over two cubic meters of concrete gaining valuable experience in the techniques tactics and procedures of underwater concrete placement.
While working in cold water with poor visibility safety was a main concern. UCT divers instructed the SSU divers on the proper use of personal protective equipment while constructing forms and used a large amount of Operational Risk Management to safely complete what otherwise would be a very dangerous evolution.
“At the end of the day, the ROK SSU gained indispensible insight of what the UCTs do on daily basis,” said CE1 Luberto. They realized the great importance of waterfront construction while using ingenuity and teamwork to get the job done.”
UCT TWO is in South Korea during exercise FOAL Eagle on their third of seven stops spanning six countries during their deployment across Pacific Fleet. 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.