Safeguard team completes dive exercise in Cambodia

USNS Safeguard completed a highly-successful dive exercise with counterparts from the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) over the weekend. Safeguard Chief Mate and civil service mariner Phillip Gregory and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One, Company 1-3, officer-in-charge Warrant Officer Mike Miller share final thoughts on their experiences during the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise—the fourth of its kind to be held in Cambodia.

Reflections from Chief Mate Phillip Gregory:

 As the exercise came to an end, “Team Safeguard” visited the Ream elementary school near Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where we participated in a very rewarding community service project.

Navy CIVMARs and divers joined “Seabees” from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three in constructing volleyball courts at the school.  

Prior to our arrival, there was only one volleyball court at the school, which was in very bad shape. Our team dug up and moved the existing court and then built two new courts. We also delivered much needed administrative supplies to the school donated by the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh

Overall, Safeguard’s CIVMAR crew performed superbly in supporting both U.S. and Cambodian navy divers throughout the exercise. We operated shipboard cranes and rigid-hull, inflatable boats for dive missions and made sure engines were running to supply power for the recompressions chambers, shipboard lighting and compressors used to make air for the dives.
Our Steward department worked long hours to ensure all those embarked, including the Cambodian navy divers, were well fed and ready to complete the mission. 

I am very proud of our team’s efforts during this vital exercise. Equally important, I think we made partnerships here that will serve our Navy and our nation well into the future.

Reflections from Chief Warrant Officer Mike Miller:

The RCN divers vastly improved their skill-set as highly proficient divers because of the success of this exercise. We conducted final practical pier and ship hull inspections which further validated the skills learned from the previous seven days of SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) dives. We also completed a SCUBA maintenance class where each diver was able to view and assemble a SCUBA air regulator. Next, we conducted an unmanned recompression chamber demonstration where each RCN diver was permitted to operate the recompression chamber.

In the classroom and in the water, we focused on a variety of proficiencies including mask clearing procedures, how to recover a lost regulator and buddy-breathing techniques.  We conducted training in underwater bottom search techniques, familiarity with dive equipment and maintenance, dive medicine, and training in proper use of a stretcher to transport an injured diver. We discussed how to respond to a variety of emergency situations while using SCUBA equipment. 

CARAT Cambodia is now officially over but the legacy we leave behind us will last for years to come. We look forward to the next opportunity to work here again.

U.S. Navy photo by Phillip Gregory, chief mate

U.S. Navy photo by Phillip Gregory, chief mate

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