HACHINOHE, Japan – Salvage support is increasing with the arrival of the Rescue and Salvage ship USNS Safeguard, along with personnel and assets from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, and Underwater Construction Team 2 March 25, 2011.
Their salvage recovery missions will assist the Japanese Coast Guard as recovery efforts continue in the city.
Safeguard, stationed in Sasebo, Japan, is the Navy’s only forward-deployed rescue and salvage ship. It is specifically designed to perform combat salvage, lifting, towing, manned diving operations, and provide emergency repairs to stranded or disabled vessels.
The salvage ship, which was transferred to the Military Sealift Command in 2007, has a crew that consists of civilian contractors and sailors assigned to the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One. The ship and the crew’s expertise will play a vital role in clearing waterways in the area of debris and sunken wreckage.
“We are here under a request by the Japanese government to provide support. Whatever we can do to help them in any way we are willing to do so,” said Lt. Cmdr. Peterson, 7th Fleet salvage officer and coordinator of the Safeguard. “The teamwork with the Japanese has been incredible and we look forward to working with them.”
Operating from a dock at FISC Yokosuka Fuel Terminal-Hachinohe, EOD Mobile Unit 5 and UCT 2 are working together to clear wreckage from a local commercial channel. With it cleared, the Japanese ships will be able to transport supplies and fuel to northern Japan.
UCT 2 is providing underwater surveillance imagery with side scan sonar equipment. Once their scanning is complete, their findings are shared with the Japanese Cost Guard. Once the location of wreckage is determined, markers are placed and EOD divers go into the water for a more thorough inspection. From this point, both Navy and Japanese Coast Guard form a collective plan to remove the wreckage.
EOD Mobile Unit 5’s Intelligence Leading Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist James Isham from Mackville, Ky., said the Japanese have been doing a great job with their salvage efforts and that working with them has been a great experience.
“It’s been very easy working with them and a real honor,” he said. “It is nice to be able to be helpful and to assist our allies. With this port clear, they will be able to get needed supplies to the people, especially heating fuel.”
The Navy is continuing its humanitarian support throughout Japan in support of Operation Tomodachi.
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