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NEWS | June 21, 2017

Army divers inspect Third Port to ensure mission readiness

By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 74th Engineer Dive Detachment deep sea divers participated in an underwater training exercise to sharpen their skills at Joint Base Langley Eustis on June 5, 2017.

Two weeks later, the detachment assigned to the 92nd Engineer Battalion, inspected the piers at Third Port, located at Fort Eustis, to determine if repairs were required to keep the port operational.

“Third Port is the Army’s main vessel East Coast port,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Nate Cardinal, 74th Eng. Dive Det., 92nd Eng. Btn., executive officer. “Third Port (staff) suspect there may be some erosion from beneath the piers. This could potentially weaken the structurally integrity and make it unsafe for heavy equipment and people to be working on the piers.”

As the Army Soldiers swam down, taking turns inspecting each part of the pier, the divers kept an eye out for any damage or irregularities that could cause catastrophic failure or massive reconstruction from occurring at the port in the future.

By performing these inspections and repairing minor damage, the dive detachment ensures the Army’s largest active-duty port on the East Coast is in working condition.

According to U.S. Army Capt. Barrett LeHardy, 74th Eng. Dive Det., 92nd Eng. Btn., commander, without an operational port, Ft. Eustis’s ability to transport cargo along the coast would be severely crippled.

“From a logistics standpoint, Third Port is conveniently located for transporting equipment, vehicles and cargo,” said LeHardy. “Without the port here, we would have to find a different port or transport cargo by land. Instead of bringing equipment directly to Ft. Eustis, it would take much longer to transport cargo on land, especially through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel, which are often heavily congested.”

Along with keeping the port afloat, Cardinal noted, that using the dive team to inspect the piers saves money rather than Third Port paying a contract company to do the same work.

If the watercraft operations were severely impacted, readiness training for several units on the installation would also be negatively affected, as a wide variety of units, to include the dive teams, use the port for training exercises.

“It’s a good training area for us,” said Cardinal. “Training there affects our readiness at the unit level and allows us to be more prepared to go out and do our mission. 

With each splash into the James River, the dive detachment keeps Third Port, the Army’s only operational pier for deployment readiness, afloat and functioning for all transportation needs and training capabilities.