Tuesday, January 19, 2010

USNS Grasp, Divers Arrive in Port-au-Prince, Begin Port Assessments

The Military Sealift Command rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp (ARS 51) arrives at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to put on stores and refuel while en route to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief to Haiti. Grasp was diverted from its mission to assist with relief efforts following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Bill Mesta/Released)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51) arrived in Haiti Jan. 18 and began coordinated joint diving operations in the port of Port-au-Prince in support of Operation Unified Response.

Grasp, a Military Sealift Command (MSC) rescue and salvage vessel, began dive operations with embarked U.S. Army's 544th Engineer Dive Team to assess the damage to the port facilities in order to reopen them for operations, allowing relief supplies and personnel additional access to provide aid.

"The 544th is ready to execute underwater surveying operations to identify obstacles that are blocking the channels in Haiti as well as confirm possible areas for unloading of cargo." said Capt. Scott Sann, Commander, 544th Engineer Dive Team. "This would be followed by salvage operations to clear debris from the identified pathways."

Grasp and the 544th will work in conjunction with Explosive Ordnance Disposal group 2, the Mobile and Diving Salvage Unit 2, and Underwater Construction Team 2 under command of Rear Adm. Samuel Perez, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 42. CTF 42 is overall in charge of all port assessment activities and coordination during Operation Unified Response.

Grasp and the 544th had been conducting Navy Diver Southern Partnership Station 2010 (ND SPS 10) off the coast of Belize prior to the earthquake in Haiti. Once diverted, the ship made a brief stop in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to refuel and collect food and supplies for humanitarian aid and disaster relief prior to their arrival in Port-au-Prince.