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No Mission Too Far, No Water Too Cold for the United States Army Dive Company (Provisional)

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Journal article

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I.t was 0345 on 23 February 2006 when two divers from the 86th Engineer Team Dive based out of Fort Eustis, Virginia departed in a 26-foot moving truck packed with scuba and surface-supplied diving equipment for a crosscountry trip to Astoria, Oregon. The two reached their destination after four days of driving and met up with seven other divers from the 86th Engineer Team Dive who flew in the day before. The team was on a mission in support of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center to inspect the hull of a United States Coast Guard vessel called the Fir, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender. The air temperature was cold and the water temperature even colder, topping off around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For the next five days, the divers had to overcome less than optimal diving conditions to complete the job. Work consisted of removing, cleaning, and replacing metal grates on the vessel s hull which weighed 70 to 80 pounds inspecting the entire hull and running gear which consisted of the propellers, shafts, and stave bearings for any damage documenting specific areas of the hull with underwater video and photography and conducting a paint thickness analysis along the entire hull. The team spent nearly 75 hours working underwater to complete the job. The low visibility underwater increased the difficulty level, but the cold water was the limiting factor of each dive evolution. On average, the most a diver spent in the water at one time was around 90 minutes. By 4 March, the work was completed on the Fir. But a similar Coast Guard vessel, the Hickory, was docked 2,700 miles away in Homer, Alaska. The Hickory was scheduled to have the same hull inspection. This time, all nine divers spent four days driving north through Washington, Canada, and Alaska. Once they arrived on the jobsite, they were faced with working in 26- to 28-degree-Fahrenheit water with small ice sheets floating nearby.

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  • Marine Engineering

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