The USACE Forward Response Technical Dive Team conducted above and below water inspections of waterfront infrastructure from Aug. 13-26 at the U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The dive team performs underwater inspections around the world on behalf of the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM).
“IMCOM is required to inspect waterfront structures every five years to look for deficiencies and identify repairs” said Steve England, a USACE Philadelphia District hydraulic engineer who serves on the dive team.
During the trip, the team spent ten days diving and logged a cumulative dive time of 17.23 hours divided amongst four team members. They inspected 29 sites below the water and 20 sites above the water. The sites included piers, ramps, wharves and shore protection structures on ten different islands that are part of the atoll in the South Pacific.
England noted that the installation’s Department of Public Works personnel accompanied the dive team to the inspection sites and began addressing potential repairs as issues were identified.
England said that the mission was interesting from a historical perspective as the team observed World War II-era Japanese bunkers on several islands.
During the Battle of Kwajalein, the United States won control of the atoll from Japan during World War II. Today, the atoll is home to the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site and also provides space operations support.
The Forward Response Technical Dive Team, which has executed missions around the world since 2012, is made up of employees with specialized technical and diving skills from throughout USACE. Steve England and Derek Burleigh both serve on the team and work in the USACE Philadelphia District’s Engineering and Construction Division. Rick Benoit serves as Dive Team Lead and serves with the USACE North Atlantic Division.
“We have a strict set of safety standards,” said Benoit. “The primary importance for us is to make sure each diver goes home in the same way they showed up to work that morning.”
Benoit said the team is multidisciplinary and has a vast pool of talent to select from based on the mission.