By MC3 Nicholas Tenorio, Expeditionary Combat Camera
Lt. James Johncock (left), executive officer, UCT 1, supervises as BU1 Christopher Etter, UCT 1, uses an underwater welding torch during dive training operations, Key West, Fla., Jan. 16. Photo by MCC Shane Tuck
Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 divers, from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., conducted semiannual training in Key West, Fla., Jan. 16-17, to hone their specialized skill set in variety of construction projects in the ocean environment.
“This training is conducted every six months,” said Lt. Kent Michael Hull, diving medical officer, UCT 1. “They are running through different drills and scenarios they might encounter on deployment.”
The Seabee underwater construction technicians practiced underwater welding and cutting, surface-supplied breathing, SCUBA and emergency medical procedures in preparation for a scheduled deployment to Rota, Spain, later this year.
“This training is about being proficient in every-day diving,” said Chief Engineering Aide Christopher Munch, UCT 1 diver. “It’s all about getting comfortable in the water, learning your limits and what your own capabilities are.”
Projects from recent deployments include the construction of boat ramps and floating piers, as well as the maintenance of shorefront facilities.
“Anything that’s on the shorefront, we can maintain, manage and inspect it,” said Munch.
Diversity is paramount to the success of UCT 1; divers must be interchangeable to maintain ocean construction capabilities and readiness.
“Every diver gets to work on different parts of the dive team,” said Hull. “This familiarizes them with all the different aspects of the team.”
Hull said his focus is to get the team ready for any type of dive injury they could encounter.
“It’s important that everyone on the team knows how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a dive injury, as well as the proper treatment that goes along with each injury,” said Hull.
UCT 1 divers take full advantage of the training evolutions and understand the value they provide.
“This training will benefit our team immensely,” said Builder 2nd Class Carlos Hernandez. “Not only have we built up our proficiency in underwater welding and cutting, we’ve worked on emergency procedures in the case of any dive casualty. This ensures we’re able to respond and know how to take care any situation.”
UCT 1 provides a capability for construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of ocean facilities in support of Naval and Marine Corps operations. They also maintain the capability to support a Fleet Marine Force amphibious assault, subsequent combat service support ashore and self-defense for the camp and facilities under construction; and in time of emergency or disaster, conduct disaster control and recovery operations.