Story by Lt. Matthew Evans, Underwater Construction Team 2
DILI, Timor-Leste – Seabees from Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2’s Construction Diving Detachment Bravo (CDDB) completed construction of the Timor-Leste National Police’s (PNTL) Maritime Police Unit (MPU) small boat pier in Dili Harbor from February to March 2018.
The $400,000 project funded through the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs provides berthing for four small boats and supports the U.S. Pacific Command’s Asia Pacific Regional Initiative to increase law enforcement and maritime security in this remote region of the globe.
“I personally gained the most from my interaction with the Maritime Police Unit agents. They were highly professional and engaged in making this project a success,” said officer in charge, Lt. Michael Roster, assigned to UCT 2.
The pier was designed in-house by UCT 2’s ocean and civil engineers. Roster then led the planning, contracting and logistics to make this project possible. The project supervisor, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Robert Norton led a crew of 11 members from CDDB and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, along with 25 MPU agents in the 37 days of on-site construction. Construction of the steel-pile pier required unique skills that members of the Naval Construction Force, or Seabees, are highly trained in.
Norton explained the benefit to his crew was that, “we sharpened both our topside and underwater welding skills and proved our ability to provide expedient waterfront construction anywhere on the globe.”
U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick, attended the ribbon cutting event along with Timor-Leste Minister of Defense and Security, Jose Agustinho Somotxo, on March 28, 2018. To meet the deadline, Roster divided his crew into a day and night shift to increase welding output and ensure the pier was completely operational the day of the event. By working with the PNTL during construction, CDDB was able to build vested interest in the success and sustainability of the pier. PNTL officials were taught skills necessary to maintain the pier throughout its life span such as replacing the cathodic protection. It also built trust and interoperability with this remote partner nation.
“The pier utilized materials designed and manufactured in the united States. Furthermore, the materials would be more than twice the cost if a private contractor completed the work,” said Ambassador Fitzpatrick, as reported on the U.S. Embassy – Dili, Timor-Leste Facebook page.
CDDB is on the third stop of their six-month deployment in support of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. UCT 2 provides construction, inspection, repair, and maintenance of waterfront and underwater facilities in support of Naval and Marine Corps operations. Underwater Construction Technicians have the unique ability of performing shallow, deep water, and terrestrial construction.