Navy Divers Clear Fishing Vessel From Alaska Harbor in Arctic Exercise

Story Number: NNS190909-23Release Date: 9/9/2019 2:56:00 PM
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From Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One Public Affairs

ADAK, Alaska (NNS) -- Navy divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU-1) removed an abandoned fishing boat from the harbor of a community in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands this week, in support of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise (AECE) 2019.

Fishing Vessel (F/V) Heritage, abandoned over 10 years ago, was blocking private and commercial fishing boats from access to the city of Adak's boat ramp, the primary launch point into the harbor. In May, the Navy divers conducted surveys and inspections to understand what personnel and equipment would be required. The divers also interviewed the local community to learn their observations of the boat over time. They determined that structural deterioration had made F/V Heritage beyond salvageable.

After confirming its fuel tanks were empty and that residual oil in the hydraulic lines and sumps was minimal, the divers scrapped the vessel by cutting it in place until smaller sections could be pulled ashore for disposal.

“The Navy is thankful for the support from the city of Adak," said Lt. Cmdr. Leon Faison, officer in charge of the salvage operation. In particular, he noted the "business owners and government officials who have graciously welcomed our Navy divers to the area and have expressed their appreciation for the MDSU-1 mission." Faison is an engineering duty officer assigned to MDSU-1.

The salvage and removal operation took about one week, with divers beginning their work on Sept. 2 and completing removal Sept. 8.

While this salvage and removal operation focused on removing an underwater hazard for the community of Adak, it also provided realistic, relevant training for Navy divers in a cold-water environment. This training helps them stay ready to maintain access to ports and contribute to our nation’s lethality, whenever and wherever duty calls.

The divers are also scheduled to conduct surveys on two sunken tugboats in the main jetty of Adak's Sweeper Cove, where they'll collect video and photos that will be used to determine removal or salvage solutions.

MDSU-1 will also conduct a shore cleanup and will regrade the boat ramp to ensure it's safe for local use. The U.S. Navy pays close attention to its environmental impacts and with any salvage operation, environmental concerns are one of the Navy’s top priorities.

Capt. Oscar Rojas, commodore of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One, said removing the fishing vessel not only removed a navigational hazard abut also set conditions for future military training and operations in the region, allowing clearer access to the Bering Sea.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work our expeditionary Navy divers have conducted up here in Alaska, not only supporting the local community in Adak, but also training to clear underwater hazards and repair port facilities—a skill that will be absolutely crucial in a future fight for sea control,” Rojas said.

MDSU-1 provides combat ready, expeditionary, rapidly deployable mobile diving and salvage companies to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment. As one of only two such units in the U.S. Navy, MDSU-1 provides fleet commanders the ability to gain or maintain access to ports and begin the process of returning damaged or stranded vessels to sea. 

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One, the parent command of MDSU-1, man, trains and equips Navy EOD and expeditionary divers as the world’s premier combat force for eliminating explosive threats and underwater hazards, so the fleet and nation can fight and win.

About 3,000 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel are participating in Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise (AECE) 2019 in the Aleutian Islands and south-central Alaska Sept. 1-28.

AECE is one in a series of 2019 exercises to prepares joint forces to respond to crises in the Indo-Pacific region. AECE tests the logistical transfer capabilities of joint expeditionary force in the Arctic environment. This includes wet logistics over the shore, expeditionary mine countermeasures, mobile diving and salvage, offshore petroleum discharge system operations, and expeditionary infrastructure assessment program.

Navy and Marine Corps participants will conduct operational and tactical actions to validate the Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment (LOCE) and the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) concepts.

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MDSU1 Supports Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019
Master Diver James Ohalek of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU 1) removes pieces of the pilothouse during dismantling of the F/V Heritage, an abandoned vessel that had been blocking access to a boat ramp on Adak Island in Alaska's Aleutian chain. MDSU 1 is on Adak in support of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019 and is the U.S. Navy's premier diving and salvage force, prepared to rapidly deploy combat-ready, expeditionary warfare capable, specialized dive teams to conduct harbor and waterway clearance, emergent underwater repairs, and salvage operations in all environments. (Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile)
September 6, 2019
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