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NEWS | Nov. 20, 2020

Suit up, stay safe—mission accomplished

By Senior Airman Anthony Nin Leclerec 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Army’s 74th Engineer Dive Detachment completed a simulated contaminated water diving field training exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Nov. 16, 2020.

The team recently fielded new deep-sea equipment, containing dry suits for diving in contaminated water, giving them their first opportunity to practice tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) with the new gear.

“As Army divers, we have to be prepared to dive in several different environments, in both peacetime and war,” said U.S. Army Capt. Hackett Landefeld, 74th EDD commander. “Using this equipment and the decontamination procedures we practiced this week will allow us to dive in more hazardous conditions with the ability to conduct our engineer mission in support of the Army whenever we’re called upon.”

According to Landefeld, the team has dived in the past using lower grades of personal protective equipment, typically just wetsuits. The new gear coupled with training allows them to be safer and more effective at diving in varying conditions to support large-scale combat operations.

“It overall improves my confidence while moving in the water,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Trevon Curry, 74th EDD diving supervisor. “I know I’m protected, so I can concentrate more on what I’m doing instead of thinking about what this [contaminated water] is going to do to me later on.”

After attending a contaminated water diving conference hosted by Naval Sea Systems Command back in March, It was impressed upon Landefeld the importance of understanding how to use the equipment properly and how to keep divers safe in those hazardous conditions. Whether it’s known or suspected, contaminants in the water can have acute or chronic health risks for divers.

This training also gave them the opportunity to see what can be done to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their procedures.

“We saw a lot of improvisation from our guys, figuring out what they can do to make TTPs better and how we can adapt them to varying conditions that we might see in a combat environment,” Landefeld said. “I think they performed exceptionally well.”

Since their establishment during World War II, engineer divers have served in every major U.S. conflict and fulfilled the role of providing underwater reconnaissance, demolition and salvage for the U.S. Army.