Story by PO2 Brianna Jones on 08/26/2019Coronado, CA-- Sailors from Amphibious Construction Battalion One (ACB-1) in San Diego teamed up with divers from Underwater Construction Team One (UCT-1) and Underwater Construction Team Two (UCT-2) during an Offshore Petroleum Discharge System (OPDS) training exercise that took place from July 22 to July 25.
The overall mission of OPDS is to transport clean, usable fuel from ship to shore at the times and quantities required.
While the exercise itself took 4 days, the Sailors from ACB-1, UCT-1, and UCT-2 participating in the exercise spent several weeks leading up to it undergoing classroom and lab sessions to prepare.
"The 3-week course culminated in a week long exercise designed to test our capabilities to sink and raise the equipment in question; and we did it without incident, and ahead of schedule," said Chief Petty Officer Jason Thompson, one of the officers in charge for the exercise. "That's hard to beat."
The mission of this exercise was to deploy and retract a section of the OPDS system, comprised of a Single Anchor Leg Mooring (SALM) and high pressure/high volume hoses that are under-ran along the ocean floor to the shore. The training was overseen by instructors from Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific (EWTGPAC).
"The OPDS training exercise is extremely important, without OPDS the war would be over in 30 days and without ACB-1 on station to conduct fuel transfer to the shore." said Gary Gunlock, Program Manager at EWTGPAC. "The initial amphibious operations establish control of the beach and airfield, only equipped to sustain themselves for the first 30 days. After that it's the ACB-1 team that keeps the war effort going. ACB-1 gets the Army and Marine build-up ashore. Without OPDS the amphibious operations would stop; it's game over. Any competent Admiral or General will tell you, it's logistics that wins wars".
The SALM works like a maritime gas station feeding from ships to forces on shore. It's sunk during installation with a large buoy for a fuel ship to moor to later. High pressure/high volume hoses, known as conduit, are then under-ran from the SALM to shore up to 4 nautical miles away. Ships can arrive on station, as fuel is needed, connect to the SALM, and begin pumping clean petroleum to be stored in a beach unit on shore at a rate of 1.2 million gallons of fuel in a day.
"We conducted ourselves with a great deal of professionalism and took a lot of pride and time to do what we did so successfully," said Thompson. ""You have to keep in mind this is a basic course, and in that regard they performed exceptionally well. I have absolutely no complaints, whatsoever. Of course the instructors are incredibly knowledgeable and thoughtful; they gave us plenty of hands on experience so it wasn't all technical material learned out of a book."
ACB-1's mission revolves around projection of assets and resources from ship-to-shore. OPDS is just one of the major operations they train for regularly. The exercise gives the eight boat crews from ACB-1, approximately 30 divers between UCT 1 and 2, and a handful of Sailors from ACU-1 and BMU-1 the opportunity to work handin-hand with each other as they would if they were deployed.