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News | July 22, 2019

U.S. Navy Promotes Dive Capabilities in Colombia

By Petty Officer 1st Class Peter Lewis

CARTAGENA, Colombia (July 19, 2019) – U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 Company 2-2 conducted subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with Colombian partners, July 9-August 2, as part of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2019.

Topics covered during the SMEEs included hot tapping, river diving, surface supply diving, emergency procedures, remote operated vehicle operations, side-scan SONAR, hyperbaric chamber operations, anti-terrorism and force protection dives, anti-narcotic dives, and salvage techniques.

“The U.S. is a committed partner here in the region. We value the relationships we’ve forged over past engagements with the Colombians, especially the diving and salvage units we have here,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Slack, company commander, MDSU 2 Company 2-2. “During our time here in Colombia, we’re doing interoperability dives to expand diving capacity and to do technology exchanges.” 

During the SMEEs, the divers conducted several dives to improve skills, including hot tapping. Hot tapping is a method of cutting a hole onto a sunken vessel’s hull to safely remove fuel, oil and other liquids harmful to the ecosystem, with minimal to no impact on the maritime environment.

“Participating in [Southern Partnership Station] was beneficial for us to practice and verify our procedures, such as pre-stabilization and post-stabilization salvage techniques. In addition, we also learned new team skills,” said Colombian armada Suboficial Primero John Valencia. “It will be important for us in the future to have this type of training, [and] for us to acquire more capabilities.”

SPS is an annual series of U.S. Navy deployments focused on exchanges with regional partner nation militaries and security forces. SPS 19 consists of fly-away deployments of adaptive force packages to Barbados, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru to conduct training and subject matter expert exchanges to improve capacity in medical, dive operations, and engineering. 

SPS is part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Caribbean, Central and South America. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet is committed to supporting the efforts of partner nations to increase institutional capacity and regional collaboration for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief – one of the greatest challenges facing the region.

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