KAUAI, Hawaii - Diving in the Pacific Ocean off the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Seabee divers assigned to Underwater Construction Team 2 spent two months conducting maintenance and repair on the world's largest underwater training range.
The project represents both valuable operational experience for UCT-2 and much needed maintenance to the range.
"PMRF is a valuable training ground, the underwater cables allow communication and tracking capabilities with submarines during underwater training exercises," said Mike Dick, range manager. "We have tried to accomplish this mission with commercial units but no one has been able to match the quality, efficiency or cost savings provided by the Seabees. They have been invaluable in the maintenance of this range.”
The team put in six-day work weeks inspecting cable systems, installing and stabilizing protective split pipe, and replacing cathodic protection, correcting damage due to abrasion, corrosion, and sand scouring from the winter storms. They totaled 86 dives to depths ranging from 7 to 110 feet with a total bottom time of 216 hours.
"It is a privilege to be able to dive in such clear and warm water," said Steel Worker 1st Class James Kirk. "Usually our diving conditions are dark and cold water."
The repairs and maintenance ensure that the range will remain operational in order to support future fleet-wide exercises. Seabee divers are a special breed of the Navy Seabees that encompass both the construction skills of a Seabee with that of a deep sea Navy diver.
The divers come from Naval Construction Battalions where they hone their individual job skills in the construction field and then spend six months at the Naval Diving Salvage Training Center learning the application of those skillsets in an underwater environment, which makes them unique within both the Seabee and diver communities.
UCT-2 was able to do some community outreach while here, providing an orientation brief to a group of Civil Air Patrol cadets from Worcester, Mass., during a tour of PMRF. The divers explained what Seabee divers do and what equipment they use.
"I knew the divers had a unique mission in the Navy," said Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mathew Diendorf. "I wanted to show the cadets a snapshot of a job you don't normally see in the military."
The orientation included a look at some different types of dive gear, a recompression chamber, and support crafts.
The 14-member team also volunteered a day's worth of their construction skills to the Kauai Habitat for Humanity by helping give the ReStore building a much needed facelift.
"I felt honored to have helped provide a positive impact in the Kauai community," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Timothy Kerr. "It's nice to get back to 'ol' fashioned' Seabee work sometimes."
"The PMRF cable project was a great experience," said Chief Construction Electrician Adam Winters. "It combined world-class diving with blue collar hard work."
UCT-2 was glad they could contribute to the maintenance of the underwater range, Winters said.
The next deployment stop for UCT-2 is Timor Leste where they will construct a rubble mound pier and conduct both dive and construction training with the Timorese military.