Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Austin L Simmons
Utilitiesman 1st Class Jordan Delasalas, left, and Equipment Operator 1st Class Matt Bobinchak, both assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1, conduct diver qualification training off the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Feb. 11, 2017. UCT 1 provides a capability for construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of ocean facilities in support of Navy operations. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Simmons/ 170211-N-VG873-0152)
As some members of UCT 1 are preparing to deploy, this training helps to improve their unique underwater capabilities and skill sets that will be required on real-world missions.
“The goal is to certify both Construction Dive Detachment Alfa (CDD/A) and Construction Dive Detachment Bravo (CDD/B) for their deployments,” said Chief Builder Brian A. Strantz, a master diver assigned to UCT 1. “It’s very unusual for two detachments to train together, due to them always being in different phases of their fleet readiness training plan cycle. However, with delays in CDD/A’s home port training opportunities and CDD/B’s busy home port training, we decided to combine them.”
Nearly every member of UCT 1 will seek qualification in various positions of surface supplied and SCUBA dive sides, including dive supervisor, inside tender, communications and charts and logs.
Several of the Sailors are stepping into relatively new roles, allowing them to gain experience on a broader set of skills.
“The most beneficial part has been gaining more qualified personnel, so as a team we are more prepared for the many forthcoming tasks,” said Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Ian Lemarbre, a member of UCT 1. “I Have been able to improve on my supervisor skills; being able to receive and watch many diving supervisor drills has given me the knowledge to be a better leader and supervisor.”
As members of the Naval Construction Force, the Seabees of UCT 1 are proficient in a variety of construction techniques on land. This training provides them a platform to practice underwater procedures not normally encountered on a daily basis.
“This training is extremely important for our detachment,” said Lemarbre. “It gives us the ability to harness our many skills, especially the ones we don’t get to use very often. From the newest diver in the detachment, to the senior divers, we all get the opportunity to receive intense training on all aspects of UCT diving.”
Another cornerstone of this year’s diver training is the implementation of revision seven of the U.S. Navy Dive Manual.
“We are trying to increase everyone’s knowledge on the new dive manual revision and basic diving skills; along with underwater cutting, welding and surface decompression diving,” said Builder 2nd Class Derek Farias, a member of UCT 1.
“Personally, I am learning how to be a more effective and efficient dive supervisor and a generally more proficient diver.”
As underwater operations can often be prone to visibility and weather concerns, the ideal climate and sub-surface water conditions of Guantanamo Bay provide an excellent training location.
“It’s remote, with great visibility for divers to practice their emergency planning skills,” said Strantz. “It also has great local support from the US Navy to include dive craft, a dive locker, port operations and public works. Additionally, it’s a short transit by boat to reach our maximum depths allowed when diving air, which is 190 feet of sea water.”
At the conclusion of this year’s divers training CDD/A will make final preparations for their deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, while CDD/B will continue into their workup cycle.
UCT 1 provides a capability for construction, inspection, repair and maintenance of ocean facilities in support of Naval 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.