NEWS | May 7, 2018

Divers Conduct Underwater Welding Training at Kuwait Naval Base

By Spc. Samuel Ladd U.S. Army Central

U.S. Army Spc. Pierce Castro cutting a project on surface at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 27, 2018.
U.S. Army Spc. Pierce Castro cutting a project on surface at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 27, 2018.
U.S. Army Spc. Pierce Castro cutting a project on surface at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 27, 2018.
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U.S. Army Spc. Pierce Castro cutting a project on surface at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 27, 2018.
Photo By: Spc. Samuel Ladd
VIRIN: 180502-A-MY903-001
Soldiers of the of the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment executed underwater cutting and welding training in support of Operation Spartan Shield from March 16, 2018 to April 20, 2018 at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait where they are attached to the Brigade Special troops Battalion under Area Support Group-Kuwait.

Part of the Army Engineer Divers’ mission is to provide a vast network of support for all logistics vessels in theatre, to include surface and underwater cutting and welding; a skill that is emphasized for these specialized Soldiers. The primary focus of this mission was to enhance the skills of the 2nd Class divers and Salvage divers alike, as well as running dive supervisors through scenarios and check offs to build upon their supervisor roles.

The divers of the 74th began operations with surface cutting and welding to test gear and equipment. The surface cutting and welding allowed divers to perform the tasks expected of them underwater in a safer, and more controlled environment. The main objective of the operation was “to make 2nd Class Divers more proficient with the setup and usage of cutting and welding equipment underwater” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Benner, a 1st Class Diving Supervisor with the 74th.

These Engineers are especially impressive because of their capability to provide such a wide range of support both above and under the water, to include; cutting and welding, to produce patches for vessels, or to clear pathways in support of logistics operations in cases including obstacle clearing and blockage.

U.S. Army Spc. Jon Nygaard prepares to dive and weld his patch to a project at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait on March 9, 2018.
U.S. Army Spc. Jon Nygaard prepares to dive and weld his patch to a project at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait on March 9, 2018.
U.S. Army Spc. Jon Nygaard prepares to dive and weld his patch to a project at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait on March 9, 2018.
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U.S. Army Spc. Jon Nygaard prepares to dive and weld his patch to a project at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait on March 9, 2018.
Photo By: Spc. Samuel Ladd
VIRIN: 180502-A-MY903-003
The diver prepares for his surface supplied dive to weld a patch to a project roughly 40 feet below the surface. This exercise is designed to simulate conditions of welding on a vessel damaged in its mission to provide theater wide logistics support.

The potential for danger to the divers makes this a formidable task however, with Sgt. 1st Class Micah Sherrod, the senior diving supervisor of the 74th saying, “As far as equipment goes, cutting and welding has the highest potential of serious injury and death other than demolitions underwater. It is for this reason that we require supervisors to go through scenarios specifically designed to simulate the hazards of using electricity underwater per the supervisor command qualifications.”

Scenarios include simulated electrocution, cutting related casualties, and various diving related illnesses that may be encountered throughout the careers of the divers on the teams.

“Cutting and welding is an extremely hazardous environment for the divers. It is considered high-risk diving and requires the undivided attention from both divers and supervisors at all times,” says Sgt. 1st Class Sherrod.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Lee, center, assigned to the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment, showing the students from the American School of Kuwait a diver welding underwater with the remote operated vehicle (or ROV) from Seabotix ant Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 9, 2018.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Lee, center, assigned to the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment, showing the students from the American School of Kuwait a diver welding underwater with the remote operated vehicle (or ROV) from Seabotix ant Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 9, 2018.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Lee, center, assigned to the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment, showing the students from the American School of Kuwait a diver welding underwater with the remote operated vehicle (or ROV) from Seabotix ant Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 9, 2018.
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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Lee, center, assigned to the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment, showing the students from the American School of Kuwait a diver welding underwater with the remote operated vehicle (or ROV) from Seabotix ant Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, March 9, 2018.
Photo By: Spc. Samuel Ladd
VIRIN: 180502-A-MY903-005
During the training event, the 74th had the privilege of hosting the Kuwait School of America as they toured the dive site , and the opportunity to experience the divers during the welding training event, as well as operations of the remote operated vehicle to see the divers training underwater in real time.

The Commander of the 74th Dive Detachment was clear and concise in his statement. “The overall intent of this operation is to achieve training proficiency and qualifications for the 2nd Class , Salvage and First Class Divers of the 74th." Said Cpt. Barrett LeHardy, commander of the 74th Dive Detachment, "soldiers of the detachment will be tested on various cutting and welding projects under varying conditions, thereby demonstrating the proficiency of their technical skills to meet the demands of real-world, and complex tasks the team may encounter in the Arabian Gulf. It is my end state that all Soldiers of the detachment successfully completed all salvage diver check off tasks, complete their roles as dive supervisors, and ensure all equipment components are accounted for at the conclusion of this operation.”

This successful operation was just one way the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment remains proficient and ready to provide support throughout U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility and its divers remain vigilant and ready for any and all obstacles.