CHINHAE, KOREA — Seabees from Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 trained with Korean divers throughout the month March in Exercise Foal Eagle 2009.
Over a period of 16 days in March, UCT 2 Seabee divers trained alongside divers from Republic of Korea Navy’s Ship Salvage Unit (SSU). With the opportunity to train with each other, both groups traded skills and training on diving practices, underwater demolitions and underwater construction.
The Korean SSU divers historically have performed underwater ship husbandry, submarine rescue, clearing of harbor debris or sunken wreckage, saturation diving and other missions similar to those of UCT 2.
“We have come here to familiarize them [SSU Divers] with the requirements of performing underwater and waterfront engineering, battle damage assessment, inspections and repairs,” said Chief Warrant Officer Frank Iusi, operations officer for UCT 2. “The SSU divers are very skilled divers that are eager to learn the principles of underwater construction.”
The Korean Divers are trained in Korea, but several of their personnel are sent to Panama City, Fla. to the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) to learn diving in accordance with the U.S. Navy Diving Manual.
“Our Korean counterparts are very familiar with the Dive Manual and even use a lot of the same diving equipment, but there are differences in how they do things as well.” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class (DV) Daniel Lehne.
“Their technique for cutting through steel plating in an underwater environment uses equipment that is more compact compared to ours and cuts faster also they follow different demolitions procedures. There is a lot of opportunity to share and cross train here.”
While a language barrier existed and there were only a few translators available, through open minds and lots of ingenuity, they were able to successfully.
“Pictures and diagrams went a long way when concepts could not be described through words,” said Chief Equipment Operator (SCW/DV) Emory Cole. “This has been an awesome opportunity!”
According to Cole safety was a challenge during the exercise. UCT 2 Seabees had to deal with explosives and dive in murky, cold waters. However through commitment, operational risk management, and a lot of double-checking each other, divers were able to complete all evolutions safely and timely.
The exercise was not all work, with softball and ultimate football games strategically planned to keep everyone in good spirits and develop camaraderie. The softball game ended up in a tie, but the ultimate football game was a win for UCT 2.
“In a short time frame, we were able to build some solid relationships that will be invaluable in future endeavors,” said Cole. “This was a great opportunity and opens the doors to much more training in future exercises and interoperability.”
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