7th EDT divers specialize in demolition, construction to protect Hawaii’s shoreline

| September 17, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Maj. Jeffrey Parker
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

Soldiers from the 7th EDT hoist their Zodiac onto dry land, near Pearl Harbor, Sept. 2. The dive team, part of the 65th Eng Bn. 130th Eng Bde., 8th TSC, must maintain proficiency in many underwater skills, including welding, concrete, demolition, cutting, photography, videography and hydro-graphic surveying.FORT SHAFTER — A typical workday starts with a commute – void of excitement and profitable stimulation for the workday ahead – however, for the Soldiers of the 7th Engineer Diving Team, excitement and stimulation were unavoidable, recently, as their three Zodiac inflatable rafts and one catamaran whisked 22 divers to their underwater office for specialized demolition training.

The underwater demolition training is merely a sliver of the EDT Soldier’s skills.

“(EDT) is really a unique mission and offers many opportunities,” said 1st Lt. David Guerden, platoon leader, 7th EDT, 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “It brings a lot to the table. A lot of people don’t realize our capabilities.”

The mission requires an enormous amount of underwater skills, including construction and several forms of demolition, welding, cutting, photography, videography and hydro-graphic surveying, just to name a few.  

Most recently, the 7th EDT assisted the National Parks Service and Hawaii’s Parks and Recreation in surveying the condition of the USS Arizona Memorial. Through metallurgical testing and visual inspections, the 7th EDT provided enough information to determine complete structural collapse of the memorial is more than 100 years away.

The 7th EDT and governmental and civilian agencies often work together to protect Hawaii’s
shorelines through preservation and practicing good stewardship.

“We’ve helped the Corps of Engineers with visual inspections and repairs in Washington state … and Alaska,” said Sgt 1st Class Milton Prater, master diver, 7th EDT, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., of the work the team has done beyond the islands.

Across the Army, there are only six active duty diving teams, one in Hawaii and five at Fort Eustis, Va.; and two National Guard diving teams in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Puerto Rico.

“It’s very rewarding (work) and we get to do real world missions,” Prater said.

Spc. Genaro Chavez, petroleum supply specialist, 7th EDT, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng., Bde., 8th TSC, prepares a dive helmet for storage, Sept. 13. The helmet, along with its dry-suit counterpart, safely allows Army divers to reach depths of 190 feet.These real world missions help divers develop skills through on-the-job training.

“I never dove before, I had never been to the ocean,” said Sgt. Jeramy Bays, salvage diver, 7th EDT, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde. “You don’t have to be (pre)qualified. As long as you are a swimmer, they will teach you everything.”

Previously, the enlisted positions were filled by re-enlisting and accepting a military occupational specialty reclassification as a diver.  

“You can join directly now, this is a full, separate MOS,” said Spc. Anthony Varas, 7th EDT, 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde.

Based on the needs of the Army, selection for officers generally occurs once a year at the Engineer’s Basic Course. The first phase of diver training is conducted at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“It’s three-weeks of rigorous (physical training), trying to weed out the weaklings and trying to get those people to freak out in the water,” Varas continued. “Phase two is conducted in Panama City, Fla. The classes there are about five and a half months, and that’s usually the cream of the crop.”

Category: News, Training

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