08 August 2007

Navy Begins Diving at Minnesota Bridge

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua Adam Nuzzo.

Navy Diver First Class Brian Bennett, bottom, and Navy Diver Second Class Phil Hartman both assigned to Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., arrive at 934th Air Reserve Base Minneapolis, Minn.

A Navy diving detachment and salvage team arrived early Tuesday morning to search for bodies stilll missing after the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Aug. 1.

The team of 15 divers and a five-member command crew arrived hours before dawn Tuesday, and several divers immediately entered the Mississippi River even though local officials encouraged them to wait until daybreak.

"Two in the morning, they dove into the water," [Minneapolis Police Capt. Mike] Martin said, calling them "the best divers in the world."

"These guys make our SWAT guys look humble," he said. ...

The Navy divers will be tethered to above-ground oxygen tanks, so they can stay in the water much longer than local divers, who had been using scuba tanks. Heavy-duty equipment will allow divers to cut through steel wreckage. The Navy also has sophisticated sonar to scan for bodies. ...

It's also emotionally difficult work, Newsum [executive director of the Association of Diving Contractors International] said. "You have to get your head right before you go down there, because you're recovering a human being."

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