Army divers support ongoing tsunami repairs during training exercise
By Staff Sgt. Gaelen LowersNovember 20, 2013
KEAUHOU, Hawaii - More than a dozen Soldiers from the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 130th Engineer Brigade and construction contractors from Sea Engineering Inc. conducted underwater training and repairs, Nov. 4-22, to the remaining damage to Keauhou Small Boat Harbor caused by the 2011 tsunami.
The detachment's divers perform reconnaissance, demolition, and salvage missions in underwater conditions throughout the Pacific.
The exercise, called Shallow Brown, was an opportunity for the divers to train and remain proficient on one of their wartime missions: performing port construction and the rehabilitation of waterfront facilities.
It also provided increased safety for the locals who use the harbor.
The 2011 tsunami was caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan and other islands throughout the Pacific, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage and an estimate of more than 13,000 casualties.
"This is a real-world mission, not just a created training scenario so we actually have priorities and objectives that must be completed," said Spc. Caleb Whisman, a second class diver. "We can't just call it a day because it's time or it's getting late. We have tasks that must be accomplished by the end of each day. We rebuilt their quay wall and pier that was seriously damaged. Because it's real-world, this really shows us what to expect and prepares us well for unfamiliar environments."
The soldiers and contractors poured a concrete jacket around exposed steel pilings and repaired the harbor's bulkhead.
"We are actually able to do real demolition and reconstruction on a facility that needs to be rehabbed, whereas we usually construct a facility, then tear it back it down," said 1st Sgt. David Chebahtah, a master diver and the detachment's senior noncommissioned officer. "With this exercise, we are really able to save valuable time and resources. Any time we can get out and do real work, it's a great opportunity for younger soldiers to learn."
Shallow Brown is just one of the many training exercises, both real world and created scenario, that the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment participates in throughout the year. These activities keep experienced divers' knowledge fresh and less experienced divers trained up for whatever mission comes their way.