HACHINOHE, Japan (NNS) - USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50), along with personnel and assets from Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit 5, and Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, arrived at Hachinohe, Japan, March 25, to assist the Japanese Coast Guard as recovery efforts continue in the city.
Safeguard, homeported in Sasebo, Japan, is the Navy's only forward-deployed rescue and salvage ship. It is specifically designed to perform combat salvage, lifting, towing, manned diving operations, and provide emergency repairs to stranded or disabled vessels.
"We are here under a request by the Japanese government to provide support," said Lt. Cmdr. Peterson, 7th Fleet salvage officer and Safeguard coordinator. "Whatever we can do to help them in any way, we are willing to do so. The teamwork with the Japanese has been incredible and we look forward to working with them."
USNS Safeguard was transferred to Military Sealift Command in 2007, and has a crew that consists of civilian contractors and Sailors assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1. The ship and the crew's expertise will play a vital role in clearing waterways of debris and sunken wreckage.
Operating from a dock at FISC Yokosuka Fuel Terminal-Hachinohe, EOD Mobile Unit 5 and UCT 2 are working together to clear wreckage from a local commercial channel. With it cleared, the Japanese ships will be able to transport supplies and fuel to northern Japan.
UCT 2 is providing underwater surveillance imagery with side scan sonar equipment. Once the scanning is complete, the findings are shared with the Japanese Cost Guard. Once the location of wreckage is determined, markers are placed and EOD divers go into the water for a more thorough inspection. From this point, both the Navy and Japanese Coast Guard form a collective plan to remove the wreckage.
EOD Mobile Unit 5's Intelligence Leading Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist James Isham, from Mackville, Ky., said the Japanese have been doing a great job with their salvage efforts.
"It's been very easy working with them and a real honor," Isham said. "It is nice to be able to be helpful and to assist our allies. With this port clear, they will be able to get needed supplies to the people; especially heating fuel."
The Navy is continuing its humanitarian support throughout Japan in support of Operation Tomodachi.
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For more news from U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan, visit www.navy.mil/local/nafmisawa/.