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NEWS | Jan. 13, 2022

Military and Civilian Divers Conduct Underwater Search Training in Cyprus

By CWO4 Chris Vollmer, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Engineer Directorate

A composite team of professional divers assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet (NAVEUR-NAVAF-SIXTHFLT) completed a week of underwater search and rescue (SAR) training at the Naval Base Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis in Mari, Cyprus, Dec. 22, 2021.

This event was hosted by the Cypriot Underwater Demolition Team (MYK), and included divers from the Cypriot police, Cypriot helicopter unit, Cypriot emergency response team, and U.S. Navy divers from Construction Dive Detachment ALFA (CDD/A), a detachment of Underwater Construction Team (UCT) ONE.

“This was the first time working together with the Cypriot Divers and it went exceptionally smooth,” said Chief Builder Garret Snyder, CDD/A assistant officer in charge. “The MYK were phenomenal hosts, and all of the divers were very interested in the new technology and methods used to employ it.”

The purpose of this training was to familiarize the divers with new technology and methods of conducting underwater search and recovery operations that are often needed in crisis situations. The civilian and military divers practiced the use of new technology such as remotely operated vehicles (ROV), side scan sonar, multi beam sonar, underwater navigations systems and diver propulsion vehicles.

This technology can greatly enhance a dive team’s ability to rapidly search large areas after an emergency situation, such as a lost aircraft or vessel. Not only does this new technology make search and recovery tasks faster, it can also be used to detect underwater hazards or threats, such as dangers to navigation of underwater explosive devices.

The Republic of Cyprus hosts annual multi-national SAR and non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) exercises in Cyprus each year designed to practice how the island and multinational community would cope with an influx of civilians fleeing a conflict in the Middle East. The Cypriot Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) leads these exercises, which are essential for enhancing multinational civil-military cooperation and increasing readiness in the face of multiple threats to peace and stability.

The MYK and police divers that participated in this training are responsible to the JRCC in the event underwater SAR or recovery operations are required during a crisis scenario within the Cypriot Flight Identification Region (FIR).

“The hospitality shown to us by our Cypriot counterparts has been extremely generous and our partnership with the JRCC and Cypriot Navy continues to grow,” said CWO4 Chris Vollmer, an Engineer Engagement Officer assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF-SIXTHFLT. “The Cypriots are very capable partners and these small engagements are essential to ensure we are all ready to respond when needed.”

The UCT CDDs are specially trained and equipped units within the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force that construct, inspect, repair and maintain ports, ocean facilities, underwater systems and general maritime infrastructure. UCT is a key component of port damage repair operations during a disaster or contingency.

U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.