In this file photo, a Royal Australian Navy Diver prepares for underwater salvage operations with U.S. Navy counterparts during an exercise in November. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Arthurgwain L. Marquez)

GUAM - Nine Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS) nations commenced a disaster response-focused exercise, the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Diving Exercise (WPNS-DIVEX) 2017, on June 5.

Western Pacific Naval Symposium Diving Exercise 2017 is a biennial diving exercise conducted by WPNS nations to enhance cooperation, interoperability, and tactical proficiency in diving operations. The last DIVEX was held in Singapore in 2015.

“The fact that this year’s DIVEX 17 simulates a military assistance humanitarian response to a catastrophic natural disaster is a significant milestone,” said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander, Joint Region Marianas, “The skills we practice during this exercise have global indications when it comes to our ability to rapidly deploy and work together.”

During the exercise, participating units will respond to a scenario that mirrors a coordinated response to a natural disaster. Participating diving units of WPNS nations will be tasked to conduct undersea geographic assessments in order to reopen ports so that humanitarian aid can commence.

Participating nations include Australia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States.