ROV deployed to assist in missing diver recovery
SANTA RITA, Guam (March 10, 2015) – A Navy Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) assisted in the recovery of a civilian diver who went missing at the Blue Hole near Apra Harbor, Guam on Feb. 28.
The Guam Fire Department received a call regarding a missing South Korean tourist and several marine units were activated, including the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy divers assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40).
The search soon turned into a recovery mission and her body was found at a depth of about 350 feet. The ROV Launch and Recovery System was deployed to assist in the ascent of the body.
“This was the only method we had due to the depth as the depth limitations would not allow us to dive that far,” said U.S. Navy Diver 2nd Class (DSWS) Erik Clark, a Frank Cable Sailor and supervisor of the Frank Cable divers. “We were able to get to the required depth and do what we needed to do.”
The ROV has sonar capability, which allows for searching for metallic objects, and an integrated GPS tracking system, which helps in determining its position, said Clark. Auto-depth features allow the ROV to sit at a predetermined depth and in a holding pattern at up to 900 feet.
“This was the first time Frank Cable divers used the ROV in a recovery and it proved to be of critical importance,” said U.S. Navy Diver 3rd Class (DSWS) Collyn Kelley, the ROV operator for the recovery. “The Frank Cable dive locker first received ROV training about four months ago.”
The first day was a bit demoralizing since they were not able to complete the task of recovering the body before sunset, but the divers were able to regroup and complete the mission on March 1.
“It was relieving,” said Kelley. “It was relieving to know that we were able to get her up to the surface and return her body to her family.”
Kelley said communication and teamwork between the Frank Cable divers and other organizations were instrumental in the success of the operation.
“We have an excellent working relationship (with the other agencies). The (U.S.) Coast Guard is always ready to respond to our needs and (the relationship) is great with the military assets as well as other local agencies,” said Guam Fire Department Capt. Alex Castro, who first received the call. “I would like to work together more in the future. We already have a great working relationship and we have something working well right now.”
Castro said that they receive similar calls about diving accidents regularly and he cautions that anyone who ventures into the waters need to understand the dangers. He stressed that if you are diving, use your dive buddy and never go under without someone experienced in those waters.
For more information, contact the Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs Office at (671) 349-4055/3209.