Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 led an Expeditionary Port Damage Repair (ExPDR) training evolution during the Navy’s Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021.
This evolution provided an opportunity for Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) to execute simulated port damage repair operations, utilizing units of action from each of its operational commands.
The all-hands effort, commanded by UCT 1 as part of an adaptive force package, demonstrated the full spectrum of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force (NECF), including: Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit TWO, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron TWO, and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133.
NECF units are critical elements supporting distributed maritime operations (DMO) in support of Navy fleet maneuvers from sea to shore. They provide a rapid response capability in maintaining the Fleet’s 5R requirements (re-arm, refuel, repair, resupply and revive). Each NECF unit provides an area of expertise to meet NECC’s tenets of CLEAR, SECURE, BUILD, and PROTECT, providing force protection to coastal infrastructure and ensuring force survivability.
UCTs are a key enabler of port damage repair and are critical in identifying, testing and providing feedback for ExPDR solutions that enable the Navy to operate freely and with minimal disruptions to critical lines of logistics. UCTs specialize in both diving and construction methods, and maintain the capabilities to conduct such operations at the water’s edge, within the surf zone, and down to depths up to 190 feet. As such, UCTs have the ability to lead an integrated team of NECF units to execute ExPDR operations.
Of the several repair technologies demonstrated during LSE 2021, a key element of performance was the port improvement via Exigent Repair Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (PIER JCTD), Spirals. Each spiral corresponds to an area of a pier with potential damage in need of repair. From the mudline to the superstructure, each spiral is assembled in-place by Naval Construction Force (NCF) commands, utilizing both the UCTs and NMCBs. Together, these commands work above and below the water line to repair critical infrastructure, ranging in scope from pile driving and dredging, to the installation of pile bracing and pier fendering.
“UCT 1 and NMCB 133 worked together to successfully install all four Spiral repair systems during the course of the exercise,” said Chief Builder Carlos Hernandez, assistant officer in charge of UCT 1’s Construction Dive Detachment Bravo (CDDB). “The exercise scenario helped validate the effectiveness of the Spiral repair systems and showcased how a UCT and an NMCB can team up to repair a port facility to support the fleet.”
LSE 2021 merged live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today’s complex, multi-domain, and contested environment.
“This exercise demonstrated NECF units can work together to effectively execute a port damage repair scenario, and the experience and lessons learned will further increase the capability of NECF units to provide forward infrastructure and force protection that supports Naval operations”, said Lt. Pete Schmillen, officer in charge of CDDB.
Homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia, UCT 1 is a specially trained and equipped unit within the NECF that constructs, inspects, repairs, and maintains ports, ocean facilities, underwater systems, and general maritime infrastructure. UCT ONE is a key component of PDR operations during natural disaster response or contingency operations.