News: Combat Divers Practice in the Deep Blue
Story by Sgt. Peter Berardi
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Plunging into the dark depths of the Persian Gulf, from the ramp of the USAV Churubusco (LCU 2013), soldiers of the 569th Engineer Detachment (Dive) from Fort Eustis, Va., participate in exercise Deep Blue underwater diver training near Kuwait Naval Base, July 21-26.
“Exercise Deep Blue specifically trains supervisors and soldiers on the tactics, techniques and emergency procedures of surface supplied diving, SCUBA [self-contained underwater breathing apparatus] and recompression chamber operations,” explained Capt. Brett D. Evans, commander of the 569th.
This quarterly training is used to keep current supervisors qualified and to certify new supervisors, explained 1st Sgt. Earnest L. Vance, master diver of the 569th.
“The most important part is giving two newly promoted sergeant first class’ one last chance at all the scenarios and to run through all their emergency drills before they go to senior leader course and actually test,” said Vance. “It’s a go or no-go course and you get two attempts, if you fail both times you have to re-class out of the MOS [military occupation specialty].”
Many of the scenarios test the divers on things that can go wrong from equipment errors to soldier injuries, Vance explained. “This is basically the run phase before you would do any dive operations where something could go wrong.”
“We’ve been out here for a couple of days and it has been really good,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Palmer, a native of Columbia Mo., and diving supervisor with the 569th. “A couple of the divers are getting ready to go to master diver evals in October so we are putting them through the paces of advanced training.”
“Master diver Vance has done a really great job of changing up the scenarios to keep people guessing and also coming up with some pretty creative issues to solve while keeping it realistic,” added Palmer
There were also dive team members working on other qualifications and honing other skills.
“All sergeants will be evaluated on salvage diver skills and specialists and below will be evaluated on diver second class skills. Secondly, all diving supervisors will work on becoming command qualified,” said Evans.
“We have also incorporated some hydraulic tool training and underwater welding training,” said Palmer. “I know the guys have enjoyed that.”
In observance of Ramadan and because of the severe heat during the day this iteration of the exercise was done overnight and things went smoothly, said Vance. “The guys are used to working in zero vis anyways, so it hasn’t affected them during the training.”
“Overall the situational training exercise ensures the unit’s personnel are qualified and prepared for any mission that may arise underwater,” said Evans.