Hydraulic Engineer Joins USACE Dive Team in Okinawa Mission, Japan

Hydraulic Engineer Joins USACE Dive Team in Okinawa Mission, Japan

Four countries, three continents, eight cities and towns and two islands; this hectic schedule is that of the newly formed USACE Forward Response Dive and Survey Team during its 2012 inaugural season.

The team and its members, including Philadelphia District Hydraulic Engineer Steve England, combined to travel more than 50,000 miles during 80 operational day’s flawlessly executing six separate underwater and two survey missions. England, participated in the team’s 20-day September mobilization to Naha Military Port, Okinawa, Japan.

“I truly appreciated being able to assist with the overseas dive missions,” said England who served as a diver, dive supervisor and report co-author. “It was excellent working with divers and engineers from other districts and was a great opportunity to learn from each other’s unique experiences.”

The mission, which was stalled by Super Typhoon Sanba for three days, included underwater structural inspections of Naha Military Port’s 60-year-old wharfs, ship’s berthing, seawalls and breakwaters.

Aside from England, members of the Naha Military Port FRDST team included Adam Hamm of Buffalo District, Derrick Dunlap and Andrew Rapp of San Francisco District, SFC Amaury Garcia of 1st Special Forces Group Airborne Torii Station, and Rick Benoit, Allen Stewart and Lee Loomis of Portland District.

“The diversity of the members of the dive team resulted in a superior quality product for our customers,” said England.

“Yeah, you can say we’ve been just a little bit busy,” said Benoit the FRDST Program Manager. “However, it’s been a labor of love getting the program off the ground to the point where we are working underwater wherever and whenever we are needed.”

Shortly after the Okinawa mission, England and Benoit teamed up again, this time in November to provide dive safety oversight for a multi-agency emergency dive at the Sayreville Pump Station in Middlesex County NJ. The dive and mission, which detoured Benoit from the FRDST’s Italy trip, was part of the USACE relief effort in response to Hurricane Sandy.

The FRDST’s overseas missions are in collaboration with the USACE Engineering Research and Development Center of Hanover, NH to provide structural inspections and surveys of ports and waterfront facilities managed by the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM). Funded by the Army Transportation Infrastructure Inspection Program (ATIIP) which is managed by Kevin Haskins of ERDC, the 2012 team also inspected ships berthing, wharfs, seawalls and landing ramps at Akizuki, Hiro and Kure Japan in June, Pier 8, Busan, South Korea in October and Camp Darby, Livorno, Italy in November. In all, there are 15 Army installations with waterfront facilities requiring inspections at least once every four years.

Additionally, England is also a member of the Buffalo Regional Dive Team and facilitated similar state-side inspections in 2011 at Ft. McNair in Washington D.C. and Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.

Conceived shortly after Beniot arrived in Portland District six years ago from the US Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, NJ, it was not until January of 2012 the team first saw action. That mission was jointly facilitated utilizing USACE divers from Portland and San Francisco as well as from the Navy Dive Locker in Bangor, WA.

Since its inception, the Forward Response team has worked with divers, dive supervisors and surveyors from throughout USACE, including New England, Buffalo, Portland, Philadelphia, Nashville, San Francisco and Honolulu.

According to Benoit, three major developments allowed the FRDST team to materialize: the hiring of Portland Deputy District Dive Coordinator Todd Manny, collaboration with ERDC to serve as its dive and dive safety office and participation of USACE-certified divers from throughout USACE.

“Without a doubt, working with Todd as well as Steve helped us move forward with this program,” said Benoit. “Engaging guys like Todd and Steve was truly the final piece to the realization of this exceptional dive team.”

Manny, a retired Navy Senior Chief brings to USACE Portland District and the NRDST 22 years of military experience as a First Class and saturation diver as well as operational expertise with remotely operated vehicles; underwater robotics and cameras known as ROV’s.

“We have an exceptional dive program made up of very dedicated people including Steve,” says Manny who joined the Portland District in 2009. “Together we’ve been able to safely and efficiently accomplish a lot of good work for the benefit of USACE as well as other military and federal agencies.”

During 12 days in October, Manny and Benoit led a team of seven to Busan, South Korea where a bottom SONAR survey as well as a surface and below-water inspection to check the structural integrity of Pier 8 berthing and seawall was performed.

This inspection was truly an international, multi-agency effort as the bottom survey was performed by Portland District specialists Stewart and Loomis, along with Buffalo District divers Shanon Chader and Ed Gawarecki along with Kyle Tanner of Nashville. Moreover, the dive team was escorted daily by a boat crew of four South Korean soldiers while the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command and Army’s 837th Transportation Battalion provided logistical.

“In working with Rick and his team, I have been amazed by their persistence to get the job done,” said Haskins. “All inspections have been completed on time and well under budget. In the first OCONUS inspection alone Rick and his team saved my program one third the estimated cost. While each OCONUS effort has many unknowns, not only has Rick realistically anticipated these in the planning phase; he has done an outstanding job to mitigate new issues quickly and effectively.”


Press Release, February 21, 2013