Thursday, August 09, 2007
Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek arrived in Minneapolis Minn. and spent their first full day working with local authorities canvassing the wreckage from the I-35 bridge collapse. “MDSU-2 is here to assist at the Department of Transportation’s request. They asked for assistance from the Department of Defense,” said Capt. Rich Hooper, director of ocean engineering supervisor of salvage and diving, Naval Sea Systems Command. MDSU-2 spent the morning setting up their gear around the dive site. The area of collapse they chose to explore is placed between two slabs of roadway cars still lining the concrete. By the afternoon divers took to the water to assess the extent of the wreckage. “The Navy has some specialized skills on this type of operation where we’re capable of entering into a confined space with high currents to recover the remains that the Hennepin County sheriff is using as part of their investigation of the incident,” Hooper said. “They need that specialized expertise [that] MDSU-2 has, to get into cramped, confined spaces that are heavily damaged and that are very high risk situations for divers. That specialized skill is not something you can commonly get out on the commercial market.”Currently, DoD has committed 17 divers and a five-person command and control element from MSDU-2. The personnel are assessing the situation to best determine where their assistance will be needed to support the county sheriff and Department of Transportation’s recovery effort. MDSU 2 divers have been to the site and into water in order to assess the situation and survey the landscape in the river. MDSU-2 is part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), a global force provider of adaptive force packages of expeditionary capabilities to joint warfighting commanders. NECC serves as a single manning functional command to centrally manage the current and future readiness, resources, manning, training and equipping of the Navy Expeditionary Force. Over the years, MDSU-2 earned the title of “Experts in Salvage” through participation in such unique operations as the recovery of TWA Flight 800 and Swiss Air Flight 111, refloating of YFU-83 in Puerto Rico, the salvage of the USS Monitor screw and recovery of Haitian Ferry victims. Recently, the heavy salvage capabilities of MDSU-2 were demonstrated during the salvage of Titan IV Spacecraft off the coast of Cape Canaveral. MDSU-2 will report to U.S. Army North for this operation, who in turn will be acting in support of primary federal and local authorities in Minneapolis.