NORFOLK (NNS) -- Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 who participated in recovery operations at the I-35 bridge collapse site in Minneapolis were honored during an awards ceremony on Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Jan. 14.
Seventeen MDSU-2 divers worked with Minneapolis local, federal and state authorities to recover victims from the I-35 bridge collapse.
At the request of the Department of Transportation, MDSU-2 divers arrived in Minneapolis Aug. 6 as part of an overall Department of Defense effort to support the Hennepin County, Minnesota Sheriffs' Office in recovery efforts. Within nine hours of arriving on scene, divers were in the water conducting recovery dives.
Hennepin County Sheriff, Richard W. Stanek, attended the ceremony and praised MDSU-2's heroic efforts.
"I could not have done it, the people of Minnesota could not have done it, without the divers of MDSU-2," said Stanek. "[My department] would serve with you any day."
The Sailors helped locate eight victims which had been missing since the bridge's collapse. They also moved an estimated 50 tons of debris and wreckage during salvage and rescue efforts.
"You executed extremely professionally and never gave up," said Col. Mike Chesney, the defense coordinating officer who led Department of Defense efforts in Minneapolis. "You represent what's best about our military."
MSDU-2's response exemplified Navy Expeditionary Combat Command's adaptive force packaging concept, by providing the right mix of expeditionary skills that are adaptable, responsive and ready to accomplish any mission.
In addition, the response to a disaster situation exemplified one of the core capabilities of the "Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower."
MDSU-2 members each received a Joint Service Commendation or Joint Service Achievement Medal, along with a Minnesota Commendation Ribbon with Pendant from the state for their search, rescue and salvage efforts to locate victims.
Capt. Frank Morneau, commander of Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2, also presented the divers with the meritorious unit commendation.
One member of the team describes how it felt to help in Minnesota's time of need.
"It was fulfilling to do work for a city in the United States where it mattered, and we were appreciated," said Navy Diver 2nd Class (DSW/SW) Noah Gottesman.
MDSU-2 provides expeditionary combat salvage capabilities that include mobile ship salvage, towing, battle-damage repair, deep-ocean recovery, harbor-clearance demolition and emergent underwater ship repair.
For more news from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/necc/.