1st Lt. Alessandro Licocopoli
7th Dive Detachment, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
KAWAIHAE, Hawaii — Army engineer divers from the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, set sail for the Big Island aboard Army Logistics Support Vessel-2 to conduct “Deep Blue,” here, Aug. 20-Sept. 7.
Deep Blue is an annual deep water training exercise for dive supervisors and master diver candidates.
This year’s event took place in the waters off Kawaihae Harbor, here, a major U.S. Army Corps of Engineers port, which also serves as a critical debarkation area for U.S. forces conducting training at the Big Island’s Pohakuloa Training Area.
“A Deep Blue diving exercise is a critical event in a dive supervisor’s preparation for ALC (Advanced Leaders Course) and the culminating event in a master diver candidate’s preparation for SLC (Senior Leaders Course),” said Sgt. 1st Class Beau Woodcox, master diver, 7th Eng. Dive Det.
“Everyone likes to focus on the ‘cool guy’ stuff that happens beneath the surface — the underwater cutting, welding and demo — but … the noncommissioned officers managing the stopwatches and supervising the personnel on the surface … make or break any dive mission,” Woodcox said.
During the exercise, Woodcox supervised dive supervisors and master diver candidates during their three weeks of deep sea diving scenarios, which tested the divers’ knowledge of emergency diving procedures, as well as the operation of a recompression chamber to treat a diving casualty.
“The physical risk to a diver increases substantially at deeper depths,” Woodcox said. “Therefore, evaluations are focused on the diving supervisors to ensure that they can bring an imperiled diver safely back to the surface when a diving emergency arises. It also prepares Soldiers for the next level of responsibility and career development.”
Army divers perform tasks such as reconnaissance, demolition and salvage in underwater conditions. They specialize in either self-contained underwater breathing apparatus diving (below the surface of water) or deep-sea diving (longer periods of time in depths up to 190 feet).
“It was a great introduction to the team,” said Pfc. Anthony Garcia, the newest member of the 7th Eng. Dive Det.
“We started with PT (physical training) in the mornings and then worked straight through dinner, training on our dive equipment and procedures and, of course, diving,” Garcia said.
Divers increased their diving proficiency during Deep Blue by completing more than 50 dives with an average bottom time of three hours per diver. Bottom time is the time lapse between the start of descent and start of ascent.