Members of Australian Clearance Dive Teams One and Four (AUSCDT 1 and AUSCDT 4) have taken time out from participating in Exercise RIMPAC 2012, to visit one of the United States most revered war graves.
On December 7 1941, the Japanese struck at “Battleship Row” in Pearl Harbor, marking the start of war in the pacific for the United States. The attack came without warning and killed 2,402 people. Eight ships were damaged and four sunk. The image of the battleship USSArizona, engulfed in smoke and flame, is one of the most enduring black and white images of the 20th century. The wreck remains in view and a memorial platform has been built above it – oil still seeps from the rusted remains. This is America’s Gallipoli.
Just a short distance away from the Arizona Memorial, the battleship USS Missouri stands proudly as a reminder of US Naval power. When the war finally drew to an end, the Japanese surrender was signed onboard the Missouri. A plaque now marks the spot where the ceremony was held.
LEUT Mark Graichen, Executive Officer of AUSCDT 1, says the visit to the Missouri was both humbling and awe inspiring.
“It adds reality for the younger members of my detachment,” LEUT Graichen said.
“They can touch and see the history and understand America’s role as well as our own role in World War Two. They can get a better understanding of who we are today.”
Able Seaman Clearance Diver (ABCD) Ronan Gallagher was among the Australians to pay tribute to the American sailors and civilians who died during the attack. ABCD Gallagher agrees the visit was a unique opportunity. He says Exercise RIMPAC is giving him and his fellow divers a better knowledge of how their American counterparts do business.
“I hope to get a lot of experience working with the Americans and Canadians here,” ABCD Gallagher said.
“Just to see how they operate and how differently they do things will help us to better ourselves.”
The focus of AUSCDT 1 and AUSCDT 4 during this RIMPAC is on Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD). They will also be accompanying US Marines during beach landings.
The skills they learn during the exercise will prove critical as the ADF’s focus turns towards amphibious operations.
Naval Today Staff, August 8, 2012; Image: Australian Navy