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7th Engineer Dive Detachment Conducts Underwater Change of Command

By 1st Lt. Joseph B. Wyatt | Dec. 19, 2017

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- With the unique mission as the Army's only underwater engineering asset in the 9,000 mile wide Pacific theater, the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command conducted its change of command ceremony in the environment its Soldiers know best - underwater.

The change of command is a time honored tradition where responsibility of command is passed from one commander to the next. While still remaining formal in nature, an Army engineer dive change of command ceremony is conducted in a way not seen anywhere else in the Army. Donning their masks and tanks, on Dec. 8 divers of the "Deep Sea" detachment conducted the ceremony at the bottom of Scott Pool on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.

For family and friends in attendance on the surface, a live stream of the underwater formalities was provided, so they could leave that scuba gear at home.

The ceremony itself begins just as most others in Hawaii would; formal greetings, the presentation of leis to the families, and the formation of troops. Although for 7th Dive, guests had to view the formation via monitor as the company was already at Parade Rest on the bottom of the pool.

On que from the detachment executive officer 1st Lt. Connor Wernecke, the 84th Engineer Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Michael A. Busby joined the outgoing detachment commander Capt. Alessandro E. Licopoli and incoming detachment commander Capt. Ryan L. Neville in donning their dive gear and jumping into the water to conduct the passing of the guidon in the depths below.

The passing of the guidon from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander is a military tradition that showcases the transfer of authority. Historically, the colors were never allowed to fall, as such dishonor could destroy a unit in battle; although in the case of 7th Dive, it is acceptable for them to get wet from time to time.

"Deep Sea Detachment has delivered each and every time and with capabilities that are not matched by any other formation in the Pacific," said Busby while reflecting on the company's achievements over that past 18 months.

Once the passing of the guidon and remarks were complete, Neville carried out another long standing tradition as a new dive detachment commander of donning his scuba gear underwater and moving to take command of his detachment.

Before the three leaders ascended from the water, Wernecke read attendees some of the detachment's rich and detailed history. Dating back to March of 1968, the company was activated at Fort Kobbe, Panama. Today, 7th Dive's missions include supporting everything from traditional salvage diving operations, to retrieval missions in support of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, to the underwater repair and restoration of the Arizona Memorial.

The six dive teams across the Army provide support to their Theater Engineer Command (TEC) or Engineer Brigade commander in the areas of offense, defense and post-conflict operations as it relates to ports, harbors, and coastal zones. The 7th Engineer Dive detachment supports the entire Pacific Theater area of responsibility spanning over 36 countries and 16 time zones.
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