U.S., Thai, South Korean Underwater Construction Teams Work Together

Navy underwater construction teams from the U.S., Thailand and South Korea are training and operating together at Thung Prong Bay Sattahip Navy Base here during the 37th annual Cobra Gold exercise, which ends Feb. 23.

“We are here to perform underwater inspection techniques and also to talk about maintenance plans,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Ramirez, a construction mechanic.

The main operation of the day for the underwater construction teams was the inspection of Thrung Prong Pier, which was originally built in the 1970s and was rebuilt for the first time last year.

“The UCTs completely rebuilt Thrung Prong in 2017,” Ramirez said. During that work, the teams installed 377 sacrificial anodes, which are used to protect submerged metal structures from corrosion. This year, the teams measured the rate of deterioration on those anodes. “Since the pier was built, it has been used for various purposes — ammo offloads, mooring, getting supplies on and off the base and basically enabling the Royal Thai Navy to be a little bit more efficient,” he said.

The underwater construction team members will also prepare for the possible future reconstruction of DeLong Pier.

“The DeLong Pier was built in the 1960s,” Ramirez said. “It’s an ammo offload pier that the U.S forces built, and right now it is dilapidated, so we are here to make some measurements and create a possible demolition plan for a future project.”

South Korean navy Lt. Donghyua Oh, from Jinhae Naval Base, said that the Thai, South Korean and U.S. personnel working together strengthens the alliances between them exponentially. This Cobra Gold and every other one moving forward will continue to grow and strengthen the underwater construction teams combined interoperability.

Underwater construction teams are a small community in each nation’s navy, which is a reason why their ability to operate together and build lines of communication is part of Cobra Gold 18.

Cobra Gold 18 is an annual exercise conducted in Thailand, which this year runs from Feb. 13-23 and has seven fully participating nations.