Philippines -- U.S. and Philippine military underwater construction teams (UCT) partnered for an exchange of techniques and procedures during the 34th iteration of the annual Exercise Balikatan at Naval Base Camilo Osias, May 7-18, 2018.
The exercise between the combined UCT units serves as a way to better each countries' techniques and further their knowledge on common practices.
The project supervisor, U.S. Navy Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Ryan Filo, from Jupiter, Florida, attached to UCT 2, said, “The sailors from UCT 1st Naval Waterfront Construction Battalion are very eager to work and learn, and they always have a great attitude. It was great to work with them, and learn some skills on how to improvise from them.”
UCT 2 trained with UCT 1NWCB divers to conduct an expedient pier assessment and inspection on San Vicente pier, and a level 2 pier assessment of the Port of Irene during the exercise. The goal of the inspection was to identify and document the deterioration of each pier. The units also utilized surface supply techniques and hydraulic tools to remove deteriorating wooden posts, known as piles, that were a hazard to watercraft navigating around Naval Base Camilo Osias.
In addition to the exchange of techniques and procedures, the combined forces had the opportunity to try out each other’s equipment.
“It was my first time using the surface supply helmet, so that was very cool,” said Philippine Navy Steelworker 2nd Class Bennett TacasTacas, from UCT 1NWCB, referring to the light-weight Kirby 37 surface supply helmet that allows below-surface submersion when standard scuba equipment is not necessary. “I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again next year.”
UCT 2 provides responsive inshore and underwater construction capabilities. It is assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 75, the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
Exercise Balikatan is an annual U.S.-Philippine military training exercise focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and other combined military operations and is held this year from May 7 to May 18.