Tuesday, August 22, 2017

USCG Arctic Dive Operations

By Karen Robes Meeks

For the first time in 11 years, the US Coast Guard began shipboard dive operations from a Coast Guard cutter in the Arctic.

Crews from Coast Guard Regional Dive Lockers San Diego and Honolulu and US Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility made up the dive team.

It was the first time dive board operations took place since 2006, when Coast Guard divers Lt. Jessica Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Duque died during an ice dive in the Arctic Ocean aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a 420-foot long research vessel.

The Coast Guard reviewed its dive program following their deaths, enhancing “diving proficiency and retention by making diving a primary duty and establishing the first three regional dive lockers to centralize control, training and operations,” according to the Coast Guard.

The crew of the Healy and joint dive team honored the fallen divers in a memorial July 29 during the vessel’s current Arctic patrol.

“There is no prospect more sobering than the death of a crewmember,” said Capt. Greg Tlapa, commanding officer of the Healy. “We honor the memory of our shipmates, Lt. Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Duque, and will never forget their sacrifices. It gives our crew great pride to re-establish dive capabilities to Healy and meet the subsurface needs and challenges our service will face in the coming years in the Arctic.”