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Navy Team Surveys Port of Djibouti

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS060315-12
Release Date: 3/15/2006 8:00:00 PM

By Chief Journalist (DV) Robert Palomares, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Public Affairs

DJIBOUTI (NNS) -- A team of Navy hydrographers came to the Horn of Africa in February and has spent two months surveying and mapping the seabed of the Port of Djibouti.

Lt. Sean Yemm, head of the Fleet Survey Team, said the endeavor was a result of a port visit by USS Normandy (CG 60) about a year earlier.

“In an after-action report, the ship’s CO said there were some discrepancies between existing charts and what the ship actually experienced in the port,” he said. “As a result, our team was called upon by Fleet Forces Command to do a survey of the port to accurately map the port.”

For the next several weeks, the four-member team crisscrossed the port, using side-scan sonar and other methods to map the seabed of the port from the northern and western approaches, Yemm said. The survey was prepared to meet established hydrographic standards throughout the maritime world.

After the data were collected, the second part of the project was started – the analysis of what they found.

“The data we came up with was compared with existing charts. Then we came up with a new chart of the port,” Yemm said.

After the survey was completed, the team presented copies of the chart to the Djibouti navy and the U.S. Ambassador, Marguerita D. Ragsdale.

The team’s survey work was interrupted for a time when they were called upon to use its seven-meter rigid hulled inflatable boat to help search for the wreckage of two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters carrying a dozen crew and U.S. troops from a counterterrorism force that went down Feb. 17 in the Gulf of Aden, near the northern coastal town of Ras Siyyan. Ten of the service members were killed, and two crew members were rescued.

Team members used the side scan sonar to locate wreckage and map the debris field.

“We were also able to help the pararescue personnel in the incident,” he said. “We were obviously sorry for the circumstances, but were happy to help with that.”

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