JUNE 9, 2017, JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – In order to sharpen their skills, the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment deep sea divers participated in an underwater welding training exercise at Joint-Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 5-9, 2017.
The detachment, which falls under the 30th Engineering Battalion, 20th Engineering Brigade, practiced welding in a tank in preparation for a salvage project scheduled for the end of June at Third Port, the waterway on which the joint base is located. A salvage project is any piece of equipment, vessel or ship that requires repairs due to damage from a stay at sea, or from overuse that may require construction support to return to its normal state.
As the only operational pier for deployment readiness and recovery in the Army, the dive detachment not only keeps the Third Port’s transportation mission going, but also offers global mission success and operational readiness through their rehabilitation capabilities.
For this particular salvage project, the divers plan to inspect the Third Port’s piers to determine if repairs are required and if they have the capabilities to perform them.
“Being able to rehabilitate areas, such as Third Port or a vessel, prolongs the life expectancy of equipment and allows it to be fully operational,” said U.S. Army Capt. Barrett LeHardy, the 74th Engineering Dive Detachment commander.
“It’s important to perform rehabilitation construction because like anything, structures have a life expectancy and wear down over time,” he continued. “Instead of having to completely replace it, it can be rehabilitated, saving the government a significant amount of money.”
To prepare for work in murky, cold or high current waters, the divers train in a tank twice a year that provides the team with a controlled environment they can alter to practice their skills in any type of setting.
“We can drain the tank, refill it and have any visibility we want as often as we need,” said U.S. Army Spc. Michael Brown, 74th Engineering Dive Detachment salvage diver. “We can do any type of training we need to here, from cutting and welding to using hydraulic tools. A lot of training operations that we can’t really do in open water, we can do here.”
Using the tank also allows the divers to practice using specialized tools needed to perform construction in the waterways. For example, to prevent a voltage discharge under water, drills, pumps and other power tools rely on a surface-side hydraulic pump instead of electricity. The team also uses torches that ignite underwater when used with compressed oxygen for welding.
With the divers’ assets, training and capabilities, the detachment can respond to a vessel’s structural issues in a moment’s notice, ensuring vital access to the open waters.
By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois