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Divers Make A Splash at Operation Clean Sweep

SAN DIEGO  -- Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit (EODESU) 1 conducted a dive Aug. 25 to clean trash and debris from the San Diego Bay as part of Operation Clean Sweep.

EODESU 1 Sailors partnered with Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1, remote operated vehicle (ROV) manufacturer SeaBotix, and the San Diego Port Tenants Association (SDPTA) to retrieve objects from the A8 anchorage area of the bay.

"For years, this was a free anchorage area. People could come out without a permit or insurance and anchor their boat. It became a dumping ground for old boats. At its peak, there were probably about 350 boats out here," recalled SDPTA board member Greg Boeh.

Before Operation Clean Sweep officially commenced, an SDPTA boat equipped with side-scanning sonar had patrolled the bay. Points of interest on the sonar were marked in the water with white buoys, setting the stage for the divers to investigate.

Representatives from SeaBotix rode in boats with the EODESU 1 Sailors to deploy the ROVs at the buoy sites. With the ROVs in the water attached to a tether, the SeaBotix operators used an integrated control system in the boat to display what the ROV was seeing with its cameras. From there, the divers followed the ROV's tether to retrieve the object and bring it to the waiting ACU 1 landing craft mechanized assault craft boat.

"We found a full-sized locker down there today," said Navy Diver 1st Class (DSW/EXW/SW) Dan Franke, an EODESU 1 diver. "This is my third year doing it, and it's great because it keeps getting bigger. The first year it was kind of a grassroots type of thing, and this year we've got ROVs out and buoys marking the debris."

Franke noted the eight different sites encompassed by Operation Clean Sweep allowed for a variety of skill sets to come together and work toward a common goal.

"It's not difficult. Everyone can pitch in. The more people that come out, the bigger impact we can have in cleaning up the bay. San Diego's a beautiful place, and we should keep it that way," he said.

Since Operation Clean Sweep's inaugural event in 1990, nearly 42 sites have been cleaned, more than 10,000 people have volunteered to help, and more than 360 boats have been donated to the cleanup effort.

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