Improving Navigation Safety at Pohnpei and Kapingamarangi Atoll

U.S. Navy photo by Construction Electrician 2nd Class Philip Wall

Sailors assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, Construction Dive Det. Alpha, completed a recompression chamber inspection and maritime infrastructure assessment of the Pohnpei Harbor and Kapingamarangi Atoll on May 7, as part of Pacific Partnership 2019.

The assessment, which began April 16, will help maintain and expand the harbor port in Pohnpei and improve navigation safety in both Pohnpei and Kapingamarangi Atoll, according to Petty Officer 2nd Class, Jasen Moreno Garcia.

“We came to Pohnpei for Pacific Partnership 2019 to inspect the faces of the wharf in the Pohnpei Harbor and do multiple hydrographic surveys, including surveying both the harbor in Pohnpei and Kapingamarangi Atoll,” said Construction Electrician 1st Class, Daniel Lehne, the project supervisor.

Lehne also mentioned that the channel in Kapingamarangi Atoll is currently not only very narrow, but also has a very difficult 90-degree turn. The hard turn and the narrowness prevent larger vessels from transiting during increased sea states.

“The surveys we completed will allow us to formulate a calculated plan using [precision placement of] explosives and other dredging techniques to widen the channel, making it a much safer passage for local ferries and the boats bringing supplies to the atoll,” said Lehne.

The UCT 2 team also performed a wharf inspection at Pohnpei Harbor using specialized equipment to test the current thickness of the metal wall in the wharf face. The measurements taken will be used as a baseline measurement for future inspections to help track the deterioration of the metal on the face over time.

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