7th EDD repairs Alaskan breakwaters

| October 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
A 7th Engineer Dive Detachment troop works to install an anchor frame on a large anchor block during a two-month long breakwater repair project that concluded, today, in Ketchikan, Alaska.

A 7th Engineer Dive Detachment troop works to install an anchor frame on a large anchor block during a two-month long breakwater repair project that concluded, today, in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Sgt. Jon Heinrich
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

 

KETCHIKAN, Alaska — Pacific-based Army divers encounter the full spectrum of water temperatures and depths when performing underwater reconnaissance, demolition and salvage missions across the massive theater.

Fifteen troops from 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, were wrapping up a two-month long mission, here, Saturday, in support of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Alaska, to repair floating breakwaters at Bar Point Harbor, while preparing the divers for cold-water, deep-water situations.

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The project also increased individual and collective unit proficiency in cold-water diving and underwater construction tasks, which are similar to the tasks required following tsunami relief and other contingency operations in the Pacific.

Floating breakwaters are coastal defense structures that reduce the intensity of wave action in inshore waters, protecting an anchorage and providing safe harborage, especially in the natural disaster-prone Pacific waters.

The Army Corps of Engineers completed construction and placement of two concrete breakwaters at Bar Point Harbor in 1980, and the safety of the local community and the many ships anchored in the harbor depend on routine maintenance and repairs like those conducted by the divers.

1st Sgt. David Chebahtah, the detachment’s first sergeant, said the 60 days also allowed them to train surface decompression techniques and recompression chamber operations in real time and real conditions.

“Performing some of these tasks at an actual depth of 122 feet below the surface is much different than simulating the same depth profiles in say, 25 or 30 feet of water, where we are normally training at Pearl Harbor (Hawaii),” Chebahtah said.

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The divers conducted surface supplied and scuba diving operations while inspecting, removing and replacing anchor frames and chains on the floating breakwaters.

Spc. Anthony Garcia, one of the divers, said the cold-water operations were a great learning experience.

“Working in Hawaii obviously limits our ability for this type of training,” Garcia said. “I now have a better understanding of waterfront facilities, crane operations, rigging, and am better prepared for future missions.”

Similar to most of the detachment’s missions throughout the theater, this one was both a real-world improvement project that will have lasting impact to the community and also a critical readiness training opportunity.

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