Story by MC3 Ian M Kinkead, III Marine Expeditionary Force
SATTAHIP, Thailand - The underwater construction teams of partnering nations train and operate together on the Thung Prong Bay Sattahip Navy Base in Thailand throughout the 37th annual Exercise Cobra Gold, which ends Feb. 23.
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Construction Mechanic 1st Class Matt Ramirez, assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, checks the bottle pressures for Equipment Operator Seaman Recruit Adam Porras and a member of a Royal Thai Navy (RTN) during a dive at the Thung Prong Pier in Sattahip, Thailand for Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alfred A. Coffield)
"We are here to perform underwater inspection techniques and also to talk about maintenance plans," said Construction Mechanic 1st Class Matthew Ramirez, from Uniondale, New York.
The main operation of the day for the UCTs was the inspection for the deterioration of Thrung Prong Pier, which was originally built in the 1970s and was rebuilt for the first time last year.
"The UCTs completely rebuilt Thrung Prong in 2017, in which they put 377 sacrificial anodes on the pier [used to protect submerged metal structures from corrosion], and we are here to measure the rate of deterioration on those anodes," said Ramirez. "Since the pier was built, it has been used for various purposes, ammo offloads, mooring, getting supplies on and off the base and basically enabling the Royal Thai Navy to be a little bit more efficient since it has been built."
The UCT members are also going to be preparing for a possible future rebuild of the DeLong Pier during Cobra Gold 18.
"The DeLong Pier was built in the 1960s," said Ramirez. "It's an ammo offload pier that the U.S forces built, and right now it is dilapidated, so we are here to make some measurements and create a possible demolition plan for a future project."
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Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Andy Gardner, assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, treads water during a pier assessment with Republic of Korea and Royal Thai Navy UCT at the Thung Prong Pier in Sattahip, Thailand during Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alfred A. Coffield)
ROK Navy Lieutenant Donghyua Oh, from Jinhae Naval Base said that the Thai, ROK and U.S. UCT personnel working together strengthens the nation's alliances exponentially. This Cobra Gold and every other one moving forward will continue to grow and strengthen the UCT's ability to operate together.
UCTs are a small community in each nation's Navy, which is a reason why their ability to operate together and build lines of communication is part of Cobra Gold 18.
Cobra Gold 18 is an annual exercise conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand and runs from Feb. 13-23 with seven full participating nations.
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Lt. Donghyun Oh, assigned to Republic of Korea Navy Underwater Construction Team (UCT), speaks with U.S. Sailors assigned to UCT 2 and Royal Thai Navy (RTN) UCT at the RTN Dive School in Sattahip, Thailand during Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alfred A. Coffield)