Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
For more information, contact:
Adrian Schulte 202-685-5055
February 3, 2010
MDSU 2 Clears the Way for Humanitarian Relief
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (DV) Chris Lussier, USNS Grasp Public Affairs
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Members of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Company 2-1, part of a U.S. Navy and Army joint-service dive task force, mapped the waterways of Port-au-Prince, Haiti Jan. 21 for major obstructions to navigation that would inhibit safe use of the main port.
The MDSU 2 team used an unmanned underwater vehicle equipped with marine sonic side scan sonar to accurately map the sea floor and identify hazards.
"Sonar allows us to see obstacles in water that is too murky for visual inspections or might be too dangerous for divers to enter," said Sonar Technician 1st Class (SW/EW) Vincent Forgione, MDSU 2.
The team's ability to assess the sea floor and recognize operational hazards helped them chart a shipping lane 163,000 meters in length, allowing the Army Landing Craft Unit Hobkirk (LCU 2023) to safely navigate the seaport and offload vital relief supplies.
"There is still a lot of debris in the water, but it has been cleared from the shipping lanes to allow pier side offloads," said Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Barone, officer in charge, MDSU 2, Company 2-1. "The debris that is still in the water is not as critical now because it does not stop the flow of humanitarian aid."
Barone said the areas he has personally mapped have not shown any changes to the charted depths of the harbor, but believes the earthquake may have changed other areas not yet identified.
In addition to clearing a safe navigation channel, the team has also identified a 90-foot sunken vessel in a section of the main seaport in Port-au-Prince, as well as numerous connex boxes and large sections of the pier on the sea floor.
Barone and his team of salvage divers, with the help of the USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51) will soon begin to clear the seaport of all hazards and increase the passage of humanitarian aid flowing into the port.
"During humanitarian efforts, there are no egos and no hero's, only our compassion and humanity for each other that spurs us on," said Barone.
Mobile diving and salvage units are capable of performing all aspects of recovery from lifting and cutting, to welding and demolition. MDSU 2 is conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations for Operation Unified Response under control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (NAVSO/C4F). NAVSO/C4F is directing all Naval assets and personnel in support of Joint Task Force Haiti, the joint command element directing U.S. military capabilities support to United States Agency for International Aid and the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
Return to 2010 Press Release archive...