VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 Company 21 and the crew of Military Sealift Command rescue and salvage ship USNS Grapple (T-ARS-53) participated in a debeaching exercise at Anzio Beach, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek - Fort Story, Va., Dec, 15.
The exercise, part of a week-long Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) for Company 21, provided an authentic training environment to certify the team for deployment. The 17-Sailor team freed the 400-foot former U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender Salvia.
Company 21 had to show they could solve problems they may face on deployment, from debeaching and towing the Salvia to anti-terrorism and force protection and an underwater search and recovery.
"The exercise went extremely well," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Bennett, MDSU 2 training officer.
Mother Nature plays a vital role in salvage missions like this, explained Bennett. High tides and swift currents make it hard to steady the rescue and salvage ships.
Grapple provided the platform and towing capability for Company 21.
"We had about 80,000 pounds of pull, along with 85 percent of power on the Grapple's two main engines and pulled the vessel out free," said Bennett.
"The exercise not only certifies the team, it was also a global partnership between Military Sealift Command (MSC) and MDSU," said Master Chief Navy Diver Billy Gilbert, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2. The Grapple and other ships from MSC will be used in future salvage missions if a ship runs aground.''
Gilbert compared the exercise to real life missions. MDSU and MSC successfully freed the grounded USS Port Royal (CG-73) in Honolulu in 2009. MDSU also provided diving and salvage during the search and recovery efforts at the Minneapolis Bridge collapse in 2007.
MDSU 2 is part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). They provide combat ready and rapidly deployable mobile diving and salvage teams to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment.
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