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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

EODMU-3 Wraps Up Operation Deep Freeze with USCG

by Lt. j. g. Rae Timberlake
01 April 2024

Navy Divers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit THREE (EODMU-3) returned from a deployment on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 10) Feb. 13.

Polar Star is the U.S.’ only heavy icebreaker. Polar Star’s primary mission is to support scientific research at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, by breaking ice and keeping the sea channels clear for supplies to move in and out.

The Navy and Coast Guard divers were on hand to provide emergency underwater ship’s husbandry services. During the deployment, Coast Guard and Navy divers conducted medical training and training on all aspects of recompression chamber operations.

“For dive operations, we’re required to be able to reach a recompression chamber within six hours, whether that’s by helo or at a local hospital,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Korte, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area’s dive force manager. “The Coast Guard doesn’t currently have a chamber so that’s why we partner with the Navy divers to bring that capability onboard Polar Star. We couldn’t have done the mission without them.”

The Coast Guard expects to acquire the same type of recompression chamber the Navy has early next year.

“The time that they didn’t spend diving, was spent on qualification training with the junior Coast Guard divers, showing them how to use the chamber and practicing procedures under pressure,” said Korte.

The joint dive team conducted 72 military dives totaling about 1,198 minutes of bottom time as deep at 45-feet.

Joint missions like Operation Deep Freeze are opportunities for the Navy and Coast Guard to innovate new tactics and improve existing capabilities in a challenging environment.

“Diving in 29 degree water, there’s a lot of challenges,” said Korte. “A tear in the dry suit or frozen equipment adds risk to what would be a routine dive.”

The U.S. is an Arctic nation with sovereign territory and maritime claims. Despite containing the world’s smallest ocean, the Arctic Region has the potential to connect nearly 75% of the world’s population.

As a component of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group ONE, EODMU-3 provides skilled and combat-ready deployable forces around the globe to support a range of operations in any environment.