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Feature Stories

NEWS | Dec. 6, 2017

Divers Support the Mosul Dam and Local Iraqi Government

By 1st Lt. Vanessa Rios U.S. Army Central

Soldiers of the 569th Engineer Dive Detachment executed a reconnaissance exercise at the Mosul Dam in support of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve from Nov. 23, 2017 to Dec. 6, 2017.

Their primary mission was the reconnaissance of multiple caves located in the Mosul Dam's plunge pool that the 569th discovered this past summer. The team opted to use their remotely operated vehicle rather than putting divers in the water where the size and stability of the cave were unknown.

Captain James MacGibbon, 569th Engineer Dive Detachment Commander, said, "The work we did at the Mosul Dam was extremely rewarding because the lead USACE engineers have been wanting to get a look into the caves for months, and we were able to provide that for them."

Using their remotely operated vehicle, the team entered the cavern to inspect the structure and collected data. This allowed USACE engineers to get "eyes on" the cave for the first time, giving them a better understanding of the erosion in the plunge pool. By providing a means of documenting this, the 569th better prepared the engineers to continue mitigating these effects.

Specialist Austin Hendrickson, an ROV operator for the 569th Engineer Dive Detachment, from Queen Creek, Arizona, said, "Having the opportunity to work with the USACE engineers on this project allowed us to see firsthand how important our task was and the impact our work was having."

During their week-long mission, the dive team also conducted an inspection of the Bailey bridge at the dam, the primary bridge used to cross the Tigris River and access the dam. Donning their scuba gear, they inspected the sub-surface supports, pylons, and beams as well as cleaned marine growth to determine the level of deterioration and scour.

"It was a privilege to work on a project of this size and scope and to contribute to a project vital to the people of Iraq," said Staff Sgt. David Gills, 1st Class Diving Supervisor, Elmhurst, Illinois.

USACE Project Engineer Matthew Collins worked alongside the dive team during their mission. "The capabilities and professionalism of the dive team was incredible. They were able to help us answer a lot of unanswered questions of the underwater terrain as well as the southern bridge. Using both their analysis and the video, we were able to conduct some key classifications of the area and gain a much better idea of what we are dealing with throughout this uncertain terrain" commented Collins.

"Being able to showcase our set of skills while having an impact has been the greatest part of the experience" said Sgt. Shane Van-Alstyne, from Oneonta, New York. "At the end of the day, our team overcame obstacles and provided the engineers with answers they've needed for some time."

"Our mission in Mosul was a great opportunity for us to utilize and develop our capabilities across the spectrum of diving. We conducted ROV operations, an underwater engineering reconnaissance of a bridge on the Tigris River, and even small boat operations," said MacGibbon, from Chattanooga, Tennessee.