By MC1 Charles White, Fleet Combat Camera Pacific
U.S. Navy Steelworker 1st Class Jesse Hamblin, with Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, inspects the weld of a Republic of Korea (ROK) Seabee diver, assigned to ROK Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, at the ROK engineering school at Jinhae, ROK March 15, 2016, during exercise Foal Eagle 2016. Foal Eagle is an annual, bilateral training exercise designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and ROK forces, and their ability to work together during a crisis. (U.S. Navy combat camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Charles E. White/160315-N-GO855-100)
U.S. Navy Seabees with Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 concluded their participation in exercise Foal Eagle 2016 on March 18 in Jinhae, Republic of Korea with an appreciation ceremony, a U.S. and ROK sports challenge and a victory party.
“The Foal Eagle Exercise this year was again a great success, demonstrating the capability of the U.S./ROK Navy Seabee team and the resolve of our partnership,” said Lt. Josh Baker, executive officer, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2. “Through various [projects and training, UCT 2] worked directly with ROK Seabees to further their underwater and waterfront construction capabilities.”
The team’s final training evolution as part of the exercise was an impressive display of an underwater exothermic cutting torch, which burns at temperatures greater than 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
“[Underwater cutting] actually comes up a lot in what we do, so even though the training was impressive to see, that’s not why we do it,” said Steelworker 1st Class Jesse Hamblin, UCT 2 Construction Diving Detachment Alfa Leading Petty Officer. “It’s a valuable skill set and it was important training. It was the [ROK] diver’s first time cutting underwater … it was the first time for some of our guys too.”
During the exercise, UCT 2 and the ROK Naval Mobile Construction Battalion worked together to construct an expeditionary wharf and create topographic maps of the sea floor using hydrographic survey equipment. UCT 2 also conducted training on pier inspections and underwater welding and cutting for the ROK Seabees looking to create their own underwater construction team. Currently there are three qualified Seabee divers in the ROK NMCB with more currently enrolled in the U.S. Navy dive school, Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Foal Eagle 2016 is a combined field training exercise conducted annually by the ROK armed forces and the U.S. Armed Forces with the support of the Combined Forces Command. One of the largest military exercises in the world, it is defensive in nature and provides tactical level units the opportunity to confirm force deployment readiness, capabilities, validate interoperability and familiarize forces with the environment.
“We look forward to continuing this relationship in 2017,” said Baker, “and continuing to help the ROK Navy build their own Underwater Construction Team.”
U.S. Navy Builder 2nd Class Jesus Saucedo Gomez with Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, performs an underwater fillet weld in a training pool at the ROK engineering school at Jinhae, ROK March 15, 2016, during exercise Foal Eagle 2016. Foal Eagle is an annual, bilateral training exercise designed to enhance the readiness of U.S. and ROK forces, and their ability to work together during a crisis. (U.S. Navy combat camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Charles E. White/160315-N-GO855-140)