NEWS | July 20, 2018

Divers Conduct Operation Salvage Rodeo

By Spc. Samuel Ladd U.S. Army Central

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 74th Engineer Dive Detachment implemented salvage and recovery operations on multiple projects utilized for training purposes and scenarios May 11, 2018, at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait. The training included lift bag operations, affected diver scenarios, and underwater hydraulic tool operations. The evolution ended with building patches and dewatering a sunken fuel tanker.

“The purpose of Operation Salvage Diver was a premium opportunity for Second Class Divers of the detachment to build their proficiency and knowledge of salvage methods on their road to becoming Salvage Divers," said Capt. Gene B. LeHardy of the 74th Dive Detachment. "Obtaining the rate of Salvage Diver requires a more experienced diving capability involving complex salvage-related tasks and underwater engineering, to perform more efficiently as critical force enablers within the Central Command area of operation.”

The operation began with an emphasis on hydrographic surveys, the method of scanning the seafloor in or out of port to assist with other logistics operations and port maintenance, as well as map plotting locations.

“The use of our hydrographic survey kit is absolutely necessary for logistical support in theatre, and the training provided to the divers has proved its worth,” said Sgt. Dan Byrd, subject matter expert of the 74th Dive Detachment.

For certain environments that may be more harmful to divers, or certain depth restrictions, the use of the Remote Operated Vehicle can sometimes be used to survey the situation and provide the divers with additional options on approaching the mission.

Another vital piece of Operation Salvage Diver was the salvaging and dewatering process. The divers first assessed the damage on the project, created patches of various sizes, and developed a plan to float the project by removing a majority of water within the structure. The salvaging of this project was indicative of the team's commitment to complete recovery of downed logistics vessels or other vessels in support of the United States and host-nation partners.

During the process of salvaging the project, lift bags were heavily emphasized to provide lift support to the structure and required a significant amount of skill to find proper lifting points for rigging the project, and controlling the project while ascending to the surface.

Throughout the training evolution, hydraulic tools were extensively used underwater to test the diver’s proficiency for various conditions to include waterway and port clearance, drilling, and concrete rehabilitation.

The supervisors proved they were prepared for anything as they executed various scenarios to test emergency procedures and the ability to operate under pressure. The same was true for the junior divers as they practiced rescue procedures.

“Due to the extensive nature and versatility of this project certain situations called for special attention that we were able to meet and successfully raise the project safely and effectively as planned," said Staff Sgt. Coty Nolff, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission.

The success of the mission could not have been completed without the technical skills of all members of the detachment; further enhancing the confidence and competence of Soldiers, whether on land or in water.