ORMOC CITY, Leyte --
Service members of the U.S. Navy Underwater Construction Team 2 and the Philippine Navy came together to execute an underwater demolition to clear away portions of a dilapidated pier during Balikatan 2017 at Ipil Port May 10, 2017.
The international team of divers and specialized construction technicians cleared away several of the pier's piles to enhance water safety for watercraft and town residents.
"We did underwater demolition shots with C4 explosives to remove hazards that were coming across Ipil Pier," said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Erick Martin, project supervisor.
Underwater construction teams executed the demolition safely.
"I learned how our U.S. counterparts strictly observed the safety protocols and standard operating procedures for everything," said Philippine Navy Lt. Antonio Quiapo, Jr. "It was important that every detail was rehearsed prior to actual events."
Safety briefs and detailed rehearsals enabled U.S. and Philippine divers to utilize the event as a bilateral training opportunity.
"We used that as a training evolution to show these guys how we use demolitions in a certain matter to effectively take down objectives," Martin said. "It was a huge asset to the Philippine forces to participate in arming the demolition shots, placing the charges, and setting them off."
UCT 2 leaders appreciated having the chance to pass on career knowledge to their Philippine Navy allies.
"My favorite thing about this exercise was having the opportunity to teach underwater demolitions to the Philippine UCT, a job we normally do not get to do," said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Plummer.
In addition to underwater demolitions, Philippine UCT members received hands-on training with underwater hydraulic tools and weight handling, surface supply diving system and scuba operations, bathometric site scans and pier inspections.
"What I see from the Philippine Navy leadership is that they make sure every UCT team member gets hands-on experience with all of our training evolutions so they can come out with the knowledge of what we're trying to teach them," said Martin.
Quiapo, leader of the Philippine Navy UCT, was inspired by Martin and the other members of UCT 2.
"Working with our U.S. counterparts was inspiring and I hope someday we can be comparable to them," Quiapo said. "I hope that in one way or another, they will continue to share their knowledge and skills."
In the 33rd iteration of Balikatan, U.S. and Philippine forces have been keeping their relationships strong, and current participants show no lack of motivation for this year's exercise.
Quiapo and Martin can see how excited the Philippine Navy team was to learn additional skills from UCT 2.
"These guys are eager to learn, and they're super hungry for knowledge," Martin said. "I want to give them as much as I possibly can."
Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez visited the site to meet the team members.
"I'm happy that everything is flowing smoothly, the community is happy with all the activities, and I'm very grateful that you guys are here, because even our local armed forces are learning from you guys," said Mayor Gomez. "It's a good exchange of ideas, techniques and culture."