By Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal, Defense Media Activity-Hawaii
The USS Arizona Memorial marks the site where 1,177 crewmen lost their lives during World War II as a result of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor. Of those who lost their lives, 1,102 still remain in the wreckage. The memorial is dedicated to and honors the memory of those lost and celebrates the ultimate victory for the United States.
Divers from the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy paid their respects to the historical site while sharing their knowledge and skill sets during an integration dive on July 17 as a part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
Royal Australian Navy Chief Petty Officer Drew Mitchell of Perth, Australia from Australian Clearance Diving Team 4 discussed the goal of conducting training with other countries during RIMPAC.
“What we want to achieve through our RIMPAC experience is the integration between services and militaries from different countries,” Mitchell said. “We have the Australian navy clearance divers working with the U.S. Coast Guard divers and the mobile diving salvage unit for the duration of RIMPAC.”
Navy Diver 2nd Class Aaron Jones of Mobile Diving Salvage Unit One, Team 1-3, explained the benefits of being able to dive with coalition counterparts.
“We learn things from them; they learn things from us,” Jones said. “It creates friendships and confidence within each other to work as one. We can formulate a plan, get it done, dive at the same time if we have to, and make things happen on a smooth and consistent basis.”
Mitchell said that although learning from each other and becoming familiar with each other’s equipment was the goal of the day, being able to train at the USS Arizona Memorial made it something very special.
“I think today was a great success,” Mitchell said.
“My guys are very interested in diving wherever they can, when they can, and to be able to have the opportunity to dive on the USS Arizona Memorial is something that they will never forget. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for us, so we’re very grateful to our U.S. counterparts for organizing the dive for us today,” he said.
Twenty-four divers were able to practice their skills in a coalition and joint environment within a one-hour timeframe. The day marked the end of a three-day long mission.
“Now that we’ve done the integration and we’ve seen the equipment that our U.S. counterparts have, it will be a lot easier for us to work together very well if humanitarian aid was required by a country somewhere in the world,” Mitchell said.
“I think it’s been a great success and by doing that, we will be able to achieve some good end goals if the situation came upon us.”