By Builder 1st Class Joshua G. Sisson, UCT 2
EOCS Emory Cole, UCT 2, teaches Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal divers proper regulator maintenance procedures, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 13. (Photo by BU1 Joshua Sisson/150513-N-ZZ999-001)
Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2’s Construction Dive Detachment Bravo (CDD/B) conducted advanced dive technical training with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, and Maritime divers on Tulagi Island, May 4-15.
The training was in support of the U.S. State Department Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) program, which aims to assist countries in developing the means to remove and dispose of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) that can endanger local populations.
When asked about how it felt to participate in this global initiative as an HMA instructor, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Tristan de Delva, UCT 2, said, “It’s an honor. To give training on something as important as this, it really is just a rewarding experience.”
The Solomon Islands, and Guadalcanal specifically, were the targets of intense bombing during World War II in one of the first major offensives by Allied forces, also known as the “Battle of Guadalcanal.” The offensive lasted from August 7, 1942 to February 9, 1943, and resulted in Japanese forces evacuating and forfeiting the islands to the Allies.
Remnants of the battle are still evident on the islands today, from sunken bombers to intact fighting positions. Along with these historical remains are thousands of ordnances and remnants. The training taught the RSIPF how to safely find, mark and remove the items.
CM1 Adam Cooper, UCT 2, demonstrates how to rig and inflate an open-bottom lift bag during training with Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal divers, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 13. (Photo by BU1 Joshua Sisson/150512-N-ZZ999-001)
During the training, CDD/B instructed 12 RSIPF EOD and two maritime divers in advanced diving techniques such as casualty management, full-face mask operation, advanced underwater searching techniques, and underwater lifting procedures utilizing open- and closed-bottom lift bags. Training began on the remote island of Tulagi in early May 2015. Initial training with RSIPF divers was conducted in a classroom environment, in conjunction with hands-on segments for each part of the curriculum.
After the classroom phase, divers took to open water to apply the classroom training in an operational environment, and started with searching underwater for inert ERW. After locating an object, divers were required to surface and describe what they found. This was followed by lifting procedures, where divers raised large objects off the ocean floor by utilizing open-bottom lift bags. Throughout the diving evolutions, casualty management scenarios were imposed on the divers to simulate real-world emergencies.
HM1 William Schliesman, UCT 2, supervises a casualty management training scenario as Royal Solomon Islands Police Force divers respond to a simulated unconscious diver, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, May 13. (Photo by BU1 Joshua Sisson/150512-N-ZZ999-002)
“I’m thoroughly impressed with the RSIPF divers,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class William Schliesman. “Every day they bring their A-game. It challenges us to give them the highest level of training we can.”
Underwater Construction Teams provided a capability for construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of ocean facilities in support of Navy and Marine Corps operations including the repair of battle damage. UCTs have the capability to support a Fleet Marine Force (FMF) amphibious assault, subsequent combat service support ashore, and self-defense for their camp and facilities under construction and in an emergency or disaster, conduct disaster control and recovery operations.