NEWS | Aug. 17, 2018

Operation Deep Blue

By Spc. Samuel Ladd U.S. Army Central

The 74th Dive Detachment was hard at work this month conducting a training exercise that encompassed $1.5 million dollars in unit equipment, and utilized support vessels for deep water diving operations. During Deep Blue the 74th employed their surface-supplied diving apparatus to conduct deep water training in the Gulf. The operation primarily focused on the evaluation of the team’s first class dive supervisors on in-water and surface decompression operations, hyperbaric treatment of diving disorders, and general management of emergency procedures at depth..

Utilizing the team’s surface supplied equipment this particular diving mode allowed divers to operate safely with an unlimited supply of air and head protection during operations at depth. The illustrious KM-37 “dive-hat” helmet provided a consistent flow of communication with the supervisors on the surface throughout the dive; providing an efficient way for first class dive supervisors to manage divers at depth, and simultaneously on surface to facilitate the completion of all tasks.

“Our capability to dive with surface supplied air is fundamental to the Army’s ability to conduct any engineering or working dives that may require communications, long dives requiring an unlimited air supply, cutting and welding and thorough searches or surveys,” said U.S. Army Spc. Michael Brown, a 2nd Class Diver with the 74th Dive Detachment.

Supervisors also undertook the task of administering emergency recompression therapy and treatment of mechanical injuries on-site under required hyperbaric conditions. In some scenarios supervisors were tested on their ability to manage a surface interval time; a procedure that requires the affected diver to be extracted from a depth of 40 feet in the water, stripped out of their equipment, and pressed to 50 feet of depth in a recompression chamber within a timeframe of 5 minutes. The benefits of surface decompression in a chamber allow the diver to safely complete decompression in a controlled environment on the surface. Other scenarios included simulations of diving at altitude, the ability to assess an unconscious and trapped diver, and identifying various types of diving illnesses.

“The scenarios had gone exactly as planned; it was a unique opportunity for dive supervisors to be able to subscribe treatments and to take back what we learned in order to better ourselves as supervisors,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nolff, a dive supervisor with the 74th Dive Detachment.

The training scenarios used during this operation were formulated by the team’s master divers with all emergency procedures conducted in accordance with the Navy Dive Manual. Each scenario required a different approach to assessing and implementing the correct procedure dependent upon the circumstances. Dive supervisors were required to conduct an assessment within minutes of stepping into the scenario and evaluating the diver casualty, a rather stressful environment comparable to a real-time emergency situation.

“I felt cool, calm and collected, and ready for anything”, said Staff Sgt. Clark, a supervisor with the 74th Dive Detachment. “ I’m glad I can rely on my team to provide expert knowledge and proficiency if we ever have to execute emergency procedures in real time.”

By the end of the operation the team had amassed over 1,000 minutes of bottom time recorded by the Soldiers of the detachment. All four first class dive supervisors successfully completed their evaluations, while other Soldiers of the team continued to enhance their individual diving skills.

“When conducting a training exercise that requires a full team effort, you see first-hand the cohesion of the unit. From the second class diver to the dive supervisor, every member fulfills a vital role when managing an emergency situation," said U.S. Army Capt. Barrett LeHardy, commander of the 74th Dive Detachment. "In diving, there are always significant risks involved, but I can’t think of a better, more efficient way of preparing these Soldiers to react during an unexpected situation.”