By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jamica Johnson, CTF 68 Public Affairs
Sailors assigned to Naval Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 “Runnin’ Roos” from Gulfport, MS, completed an overhaul project on the main naval pier in Ochakiv, Ukraine, Oct. 23, 2020.
A team of 13 Sailors took over the project from a previous Seabee battalion in late September 2020 and completed the project ahead of schedule.
“This project was designed to significantly increase the lifespan of the pier. The project was originally based off of an assessment performed by one of our dive teams two years prior,” said Builder Chief Craig Claudio, Leading Chief Petty Officer for Construction Dive Detachment Bravo, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) One. “Additionally, this project improved our relationship with the Ukrainian Navy and it will give them additional capabilities to use in future exercises such as Exercise Sea Breeze.”
The project required the repair of 12 concrete mats resting on concrete or timber piles which were located in soft, unstable ground. This repair was essential to provide a suitable stable foundation to the pier.
Claudio mentioned that the unconventional design of the pier made the Roos’ method of repair challenging and required Seabee resourcefulness to successfully complete the mission.
“We spent three years experimenting with this technology in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command,” said Claudio. “Multiple mixed detachments from both UCT One and Two have participated in a number of exercises designed to test this technology in a time-constrained manner for contingency operations, and the technology has proven how it can enhance fleet logistics from sea to shore and shore to sea.”
Claudio said that prior to this operation, the Roos’ functionally tested a set of “quick start” guides designed to be delivered with this system so that any UCT member can use the technology successfully with minimal experience. “Additionally, we had two members of the detachment participate in the development of this technology on site,” said Claudio.
For major construction operations such as this, Steel Worker 1st Class Petty Officer Ryan Adams was selected as Project Supervisor due to his five years of experience as an Underwater Construction Technician.
“The Ukrainian Armed Forces were extremely supportive and were thankful of our contributions to their facility’s lifespan enhancement,” said Adams. “They provided us with nearly 20,000 gallons of fresh water for our concrete operations, crane and forklift support, as well as the use of their boat maintenance facility.”
Adams said that the Ukrainian Navy had many capabilities to offer in terms of support and that his team was grateful for their assistance. “I believe this project was extremely successful in the sense that an immense amount of knowledge was attained in the use of this technology by multiple detachments,” said Adams. “Of course, the fact that it helps one of our key partners in the region makes everything that much more rewarding.”
Cmdr. Dan Marzluff, Foreign Area Officer on the staff of Naval Forces Europe-Naval Forces Africa-U.S. Sixth Fleet, who oversaw and coordinated the project, said the benefit of pier improvement would apply to the entire Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“We continue to work closely with our Ukrainian partners,” Marzluff said. “And this excellent effort by UCT One is a manifestation of that support and our commitment to help build Ukraine’s maritime capability.”
The project may have been challenging, but there were many lessons learned regarding what works and what doesn’t work for similar repairs on an unconventional pier.
“As a result of this project, the vast majority of our underwater construction technicians now have a much higher confidence in their capability to execute this type of operation in a contingency environment,” said Adams.
NMCB 133 is a subordinate command of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force, executing construction and engineering projects in support of airfield damage repair, building and maintaining critical infrastructure, and providing power, water, and other essential commodities in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations.