Navy secretary visits Minneapolis bridge site

By Senior Chief Petty Officer Dave Nagle | Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs | August 09, 2007

The Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Donald C. Winter, surveyed recovery efforts at the site of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minn., on Aug. 8.
Secretary Winter also met with Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 and officials from local, state and federal agencies involved in the search and recovery efforts.

Two teams of divers from MSDU-2, based at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., have been at the scene since Aug. 7 in support of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. Divers have been in the water conducting a meticulous hand-over-hand search of the area and removing debris and recovering vehicles.

“The Navy was asked if we could provide some additional capability to the efforts here,” Winter said. “The Navy brings that salvage diving capability, which is fairly unique and a much-needed capability here given these challenging circumstances.

"This is something Navy diving and salvage units are trained and equipped for, and they have been able to supplement and complement the efforts of the local dive teams and other agencies. Whatever we can do to support the people of Minneapolis, that’s what we’re here for.”

The Department of Transportation, the primary federal agency for recovery efforts in Minneapolis, requested specialized dive capabilities on behalf of the local sheriff’s office, which prompted the deployment of a Defense Coordinating Officer and Defense Coordination Element that oversees all Department of Defense assets at the site, including the Navy dive teams.

The DCO and DCE are assigned to United States Army North, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Army North provides defense support to civil authorities as the Army component of U.S. Northern Command, the unified command on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., that is responsible for homeland defense and civil support.
Secretary Winter praised the efforts and the teamwork of the MDSU-2 divers and all the agencies involved in the search and recovery operation.

“The Navy, and all the branches of service, is an all-volunteer force, just like all the agencies involved here. They are all people who have chosen a career of service and really want to help out, whenever and wherever,” Winter said. “This is a very multi-faceted team from a wide variety of organizations working extremely well together.”

For more images of Navy participation in recovery operations in Minneapolis, please visit the U.S. Navy Web site.