By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Katie Cox Commander, Task Force 68 Public Affairs
U.S. service members from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, assigned to Navy Expeditionary Combat Force Europe-Africa/Task Force (CTF) 68, and divers from the Spanish Navy Center for Diving (Centro de Buceo de la Armada, CBA) and Military Diving School (Escuela Militar de Buceo, EMB), conducted proficiency training, Feb. 3-7, 2020, as part of annual bi-lateral altitude and ice dive training in the Pyrenees Mountains.
Twenty-four explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians, Navy divers, hospital corpsmen, and Seabees from EODMU 8, stationed in Rota, Spain, and 40 Spanish divers and personnel based in Cartagena, Spain, took part in the training.
“This is a multi-lateral diving exercise that strengthens NATO partnerships in a cold-water altitude environment,” said Chief Navy Diver Troy Crowder, from EODMU 8. “We experienced rapid changes in environmental conditions in which the ice melted. We adapted and seized the opportunity to develop the divers and diving supervisors as proficient cold-water ice diving and ice diving supervisors.”
Following set-up of equipment, the team quickly got to work. The U.S. side of camp consisted of two shelters and a transportable recompression chamber system (TRCS). The dives conducted covered emergency procedures, supervisor drills, lost diver drills, rescue drills, locating an emergency exit hole, performing emergency regulator failure procedures, evacuation of an unconscious or injured diver, and proper use of TRCS. Operations like these provide useful knowledge for the divers’ future application of practices.
“This type of work is very dangerous and there are many risks involved,” said Senior Chief Navy Diver Matt Medeiros, a U.S. Navy diver assigned to the Spanish dive school. “The techniques that we use are very important to learn in order to avoid an emergency or injury to a diver.”
These dive engagements have the ability to set the tone for future exchanges. By strengthening partnerships and interoperability, they demonstrate opportunity for further teamwork. Between the U.S. Navy and Spanish navy, more than 30 dives were conducted successfully and safely during the exercise.
“Our countries can learn much together,” said Medeiros. “It’s an honor to work with the divers in Spain and also it’s an honor to help the Americans and our service members in order to dive, teach and learn.”
CTF 68 provides explosive ordnance disposal operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility.
U.S. 6th 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.