Seabee divers work on underwater training range off Kauai


KAUAI, Hawaii — Diving in the Pacific Ocean off the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Seabee divers assigned to Underwater Construction Team 2 (UCT-2) spent two months conducting maintenance and repair on the world’s largest underwater training range.

The project represents both valuable operational experience for UCT-2 and much-needed maintenance to the range.

“PMRF is a valuable training ground,” said Mike Dick, range manager. “The underwater cables allow communication and tracking capabilities with submarines during underwater training exercises.

“We have tried to accomplish this mission with commercial units, but no one has been able to match the quality, efficiency or cost savings provided by the Seabees. They have been invaluable in the maintenance of this range.”

The team put in six-day work weeks correcting damage due to abrasion, corrosion and sand-scouring from winter storms. They inspected cable systems, installed and stabilized protective split pipe and replaced cathodic protection. Their total of 86 dives ranged from 7 to 110 feet with a total bottom time of 216 hours.

“It is a privilege to be able to dive in such clear and warm water,” said Steelworker 1st Class James Kirk. “Usually our diving conditions are dark and cold water.”

The repairs and maintenance ensure that the range will remain operational to support future fleetwide exercises.

Seabee divers are a special breed of the Navy Seabees, possessing both the construction skills of a Seabee and the skills of a deep-sea diver. They come from Naval Construction Battalions, where they hone their individual job skills in the construction field and then spend six months at the Naval Diving Salvage Training Center, learning the application of those skill sets in an underwater environment. This makes them unique within both the Seabee and diver communities.

UCT-2 was able to do some community outreach while at the range, providing an orientation brief to a group of Civil Air Patrol cadets from Worcester, Mass., during a range tour.

The divers explained what Seabee divers do and what equipment they use. The orientation included a look at different types of dive gear, a recompression chamber and support crafts.

The 14-member dive team also volunteered a day’s worth of construction skills at the Kauai Habitat for Humanity.

“I felt honored to have helped provide a positive impact in the Kauai community,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Timothy Kerr. “It’s nice to get back to ‘old fashioned’ Seabee work sometimes.”

“The PMRF cable project was a great experience,” said Chief Construction Electrician Adam Winters. “It combined world-class diving with blue-collar hard work.”

The next deployment stop for UCT-2 is Timor Leste, where the divers will construct a rubble mound pier and conduct both dive and construction training with the Timorese military.

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