Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. John C. Garver
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM — U.S. Army Pacific divers with 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, conducted their annual Deep Blue exercise aboard Logistic Support Vessel–4, the Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker.
The primary purpose of the exercise was to reinforce the leadership skills and diving knowledge of the dive supervisors.
During Deep Blue, divers trained on Recompression Chamber operations, surface-supplied deep-water dives and scuba scenarios at depths of more than 120 feet.
“Our master divers ensure that our dive supervisors are sharp with their skills and protocols, so when they go out with a dive team, they’re successful,” said 1st Lt. Charles Masters, the detachment executive officer. “It’s important that we keep all of our divers’ proficiency at the highest levels. Lives depend on it.”
The increased risk associated with deep water diving missions means the divers need a complete understanding of their equipment and the operation, and conduct rigorous inspections on the equipment.
“What we’re doing here prepares you as a supervisor to go out and be competent and know that you can handle situations if they arise in remote locations,” said Sgt. Thomas Behar, a 2nd class diver and lead diver. “It gets you thinking about the things that you need to be concerned with as a supervisor when you’re in those situations.”
The team mitigated risks for future operations by reacting to simulated emergency scenarios, including unconscious divers, underwater injuries and decompression sickness, commonly known as the bends.
They also operated the team’s recompression chamber – worth approximately $1 million – which simulates various ocean depths. The 7th Eng. Dive Det. uses the chamber to treat those suffering from decompression illnesses.
As the divers performed their tasks underwater, the Soldiers on the surface maintained the divers’ life-support equipment. Trust between Soldiers is as vital as the diving-umbilical cables that supply air to the divers below.
Soldiers from the dive team frequently support missions in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines.
While Soldiers on the dive team rely on each other, USARPAC relies on the unique capabilities of Army divers to accomplish necessary missions within the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations.
“Our divers need to be able to operate in the most austere environments in the world,” Masters said. “Although we are a small detachment, our impact in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Theater is profound.”