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CHINHAE, Republic of Korea - U.S. Navy and Republic of Korea Navy diving and salvage experts wrapped up two weeks of advanced training during Salvage Exercise (SALVEX) Korea 2016, April 21.
Building on 30 years of partnership since SALVEX Korea began in 1985, U.S. and ROK Navy personnel conducted a series of advanced combined salvage operations, both in port and at sea.
Sailors assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, embarked on rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), sharpened skills with Korean navy counterparts embarked on their diving and salvage ship ROKS Tong Yeong (ATS 31).
The training focused on combined diving operations, wet-bell diving through moon pools, and for the first time this year, underwater demolition operations. For the capstone event, Safeguard and Tong Yeong teamed up in a demolition operation clearing waterborne obstacles. This complex and successful evolution exemplified the merits of diving and salvage interoperability between the U.S. and ROK navies.
"We are now more familiar with each other's equipment and capabilities; making it easier for us to work together in the future if a real world contingency operation were to happen," said Lt. Mark Snyder, MDSU 1 officer in charge.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Carlton Maughan was extremely impressed with the teamwork from his ROK Navy diver counterparts.
"Their professionalism and experience were evident and it was a pleasure to work alongside the ROK navy divers," said Maughan. "The ROK navy divers were extremely cognizant of making sure their operators were ready and prepared for the diving environment, which is something we can work on to better improve our capabilities and efficiency when diving in cold water."
Lt. John Money, an operational planner for Commander, Task Force 73, said SALVEX is one of the premiere diving and salvage exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"This exercise allows the U.S. Navy to advance our diving/salvage skills while enhancing theater security cooperation and maritime interoperability with regional navies."
SALVEX Korea 2016 is part of exercise Foal Eagle -- an umbrella of regularly scheduled, annual exercises that are the culmination of many months of planning and based on realistic training scenarios. The naval portion of the Foal Eagle exercises take place in international waters around South Korea and features a full spectrum of maritime operations.
MDSU-1 provides combat-ready, expeditionary, rapidly deployable mobile, diving and salvage capabilities to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment.
CTF 73 is U.S. 7th Fleet's theater security cooperation agent for South and Southeast Asia.
Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant, merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships at sea, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces.