An Army dive team is working with Coast Guard divers from the West Coast for a training and work opportunity in Juneau this month.
The visit to Alaska’s capital city offers the soldiers, stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia, the chance to execute multiple training opportunities in a short period of time, said the team’s commander, Capt. Kevin Hadden.
“It’s a great opportunity to get into the cold water with better visibility than they’re used to,” Hadden said in an interview. “We can do multiple mission sets and challenge our guys to take on something new every day.”
The divers have been using their time productively, Hadden said, inspecting the Coast Guard vessels in town for the Buoy Tender Roundup, as well as working with civilian agencies to inspect underwater architecture.
“The joint training opportunity is huge for everyone,” said assistant command dive officer Senior Chief Matt Kamalo in an interview. “For those boats, it’s one great opportunity for these divers to do all the underwater work.”
Divers have been working through multiple training scenarios to qualify soldiers for expanded roles, Hadden said.
“Part of what we’re doing here is running through that training pipeline to qualify some of our junior divers,” said First Sergeant Tom Kneipp in an interview.
The Coast Guard divers have a slightly different skill set, and the joint training opportunity allows the Army divers to expand their knowledge, Hadden said.
“The Coast Guard are experts when it comes to ice diving,” Hadden said. “Everyone has their niche. We work more in littoral zones and inland waterways.”
The military dive teams have a lot of overlapping responsibilities, Hadden said.
“We all work together. All the dive teams in the federal government seem to know each other pretty well,” Hadden said. “Seeing different vessels and platforms is a great training opportunity.”
Soldiers have enjoyed the change of pace from Virginia, where temperatures routinely reach the high 90s until September.
“It being cold and raining is a chance to practice resilience,” said Pfc. Dylan Kloss. “Diving in the cold water is refreshingly different from Virginia.”