Story by Emily Murphy, Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka
The Navy’s Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 Construction Dive Detachment Bravo (CDD/B) deployed to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) Feb. 15 through 24, as part of their regularly scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacom Region. CFAY was the first stop on a three-stop deployment for the Port Hueneme, Calif.-based UCT 2.
While onboard CFAY, UCT 2 conducted an inspection and assessment of one of the fleet mooring buoys, removed a sunken paint barge from Truman Bay, and installed zinc anodes under the Harbor Master Pier.
“Construction Dive Detachment Bravo completed critical waterfront infrastructure repairs and maintenance,” said Chief Steel Worker Jacob Scarlett, assistant officer in charge of CDD/B. “[These repairs and maintenance] allowed for continued safe usage of U.S. Navy 7th Fleet ships.”
In order to address an emergent need, UCT 2 was tasked with removing a sunken paint barge.
“For the better part of a decade, a sunken paint float at the terminus of a boat ram has reduced the navigable depth for small craft,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Madsen, harbor movements officer at CFAY. “UCT 2 divers used all techniques as their disposal to restore buoyancy to the paint float and bring it into a position where it could be dismantled and disposed of.”
They conducted an underwater welding job by creating a temporary patch on the barge, then pumped the barge with compressed air to drain the water, and floated the barge to the surface before it was pushed to the boat ramp.
“Raising the sunken paint float … was the most satisfying,” said Scarlett. “The detachment was a huge part of the removal of a navigational hazard for security vessels. The dive team attached four, 2,000-pound lift bags on the sunken obstruction and utilized underwater jetting techniques to successfully clear the buried obstruction. Then UCT divers patched a giant hole in the structure by welding multiple steel plates that allowed the structure to hold air. Air was then pumped in using air compressors and the paint float slowly raised to the surface. Port Ops tugs arrived on scene and the paint float was successfully towed to a safe area.”
Their final project involved the installation of 16, 250-pound zinc anodes, a type of sacrificial anode used to prevent corrosion, onto steel piles under the Harbor Master Pier. The work is part of an ongoing maintenance and improvement project on the pier, according to Madsen. The anodes needed to be welded on underwater and significantly increased the lifespan of the piles and the pier. To weld the anodes, UTC 2 divers used underwater welding techniques developed and perfected by the Underwater Construction Teams.