Army Divers partner with Coast Guard in support of Saipan recovery

| September 8, 2015 | 0 Comments
Photos by the 8th Theater Sustainment Command  Engineer divers of the 7th Eng. Dive Detachment check their equipment prior to assessing Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Aug. 27. The harbor remains partially non-mission capable because of the damage sustained during Typhoon Soudelor.

Photos by the 8th Theater Sustainment Command
Engineer divers of the 7th Eng. Dive Detachment check their equipment prior to assessing Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Aug. 27. The harbor remains partially non-mission capable because of the damage sustained during Typhoon Soudelor.

8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

SAIPAN, North Mariana Islands — In support of the disaster relief efforts in Saipan, an Army Hawaii dive detachment partnered with Coast Guard 14th District for a required port assessment and certification of Tanapag Harbor, the port of Saipan, which remains partially non-mission capable, Aug. 27.

Typhoon Soudelor left Saipan, a 48-square mile island, with loss of power and water services to more than 45,000 Saipan residents, causing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reach out to the Department of Defense for support after all local, state and non-DOD national assets were exhausted.

“In the Pacific, we are the only Army dive detachment; we have to be ready to deploy rapidly,” said Spc. Galen Griffith, 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

Spc. Galen Griffith, right, inspects his dive equipment with a member of the USCG 14th District before assessing Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Aug. 27.

Spc. Galen Griffith, right, inspects his dive equipment with a member of the USCG 14th District before assessing Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, Aug. 27.

The 7th Dive Det. has the capability to conduct the initial ground assessment, recertification of the port, structural assessment and repair when the services are requested.

Although the divers function as a small team, they continuously work hand-in-hand with other services, making them adaptable wherever they are needed.

“We worked alongside airmen from Hickam Air Force Base, to help us with the transportation of personnel and equipment and the Merchant Marines to get us from Guam to Saipan,” said Capt. Troy Davidson, commander, 7th Dive. “After arriving in Saipan, the 9th Mission Support Command and the 302nd Army Reserve housed us, while the Coast Guard 14th District provided us with dive equipment and assistance.”

Upon arrival, the team assessed the data on the harbor to identify any structural irregularities and report any damage to the USCG 14th District, which helps enable transition efforts back to the local government.

“During this dive, we saw hard and soft growth on the wall (and) some holes where the aggregate would fall through structure integrity,” said Griffith. “This means that the water current will come in and wash out the different aggregates, the broken concrete, and make the metal rust, causing it to expand and create more cracks and damage.”

USCGC Sequoia, a 225-foot cutter with the 14th District, conducted the initial survey of the shipping channel and port and has been working to restore aids to navigation, buoys and lights, and cleanup effort within the first week.

“The port is accessible and we were able to certify it,” said Davidson. “We have turned our assessment into the 14th District for further consideration.”

As the area begins to replenish its ability to function outside of crisis response, the hope is to turn the assessment over to the local government and allow them to figure out the best avenue for repair.

“We like to be able to hand missions back to the countries and see them move forward after a time of crisis,” said Davidson. “We appreciate getting the support from our sister services, along with the opportunity to conduct dive missions and support our allies in their time of need.”

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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