U.S. Navy Seabee divers, assigned to Commander Task Force 68, conducted an advanced bilateral dive engagement with Royal Moroccan Navy divers at the Moroccan Naval diving school at Ksar Sghir, Morocco, from Oct. 31 - Nov. 19, 2022.
“We are excited to work with the U.S. Navy divers again,” said Lt. Toaufik Essaadi, Royal Moroccan Navy. “Our goal is to increase our diving capability in all aspects of military diving.”
The engagement focused on advanced diving capabilities such as surface supplied diving, underwater cutting and welding, and dive casualty management. These capabilities are important to both the U.S. Navy and Royal Moroccan Navy because of the extremely large amount of ship traffic in the region.
“The Moroccan Navy divers are a highly trained team of professional divers,” said U.S. Navy Construction Mechanic Senior Chief Nathan Emmett, from Underwater Construction Team 1, and the Construction Detachment Charlie master diver and officer in charge. “Having strong relationships with partners like this right in our backyard means we are much more prepared to respond to a crisis.”
The dive engagement builds on a multi-year effort between CTF 68 and Moroccan partners. Seabees assigned to CTF 68 have been constructing training facilities at the Royal Moroccan Navy dive school for the two last years. These construction efforts have included maritime training facility with a rappelling tower, a close-quarter shoot house, and a shipping container mockup.
The work accomplished building these facilities, and diving alongside one another, paves the way for continued training opportunities during annual exercises Phoenix Express and African Lion. The U.S. and Morocco are planning for future maritime interdiction training and a multinational dive exchange.
“The Royal Moroccan Navy were fantastic and gracious hosts and their dive school is very impressive,” said U.S. Navy Utilitiesman 2nd Class Robert Urlich. “It was an honor and a real pleasure to work side by side with such professionals!”
UCT 1 is a specially trained and equipped unit within the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force that constructs, inspects, repairs and maintains ports, ocean facilities, underwater systems, and general maritime infrastructure. UCT is a key component of port damage repair operations during a disaster or contingency.
CTF 68, headquartered in Rota, Spain, commands all Navy Expeditionary Forces in the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility and is responsible for providing EOD operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts in direct support of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet.