USACE Dive Safety Experts Support Overseas Construction Projects

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Middle East District
Published Sept. 13, 2019
Photo of 8 construction workers in a group shot. One is being given the rabbit ears gesture used in photos.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District Chief of Safety and Occupational Health and certified dive safety specialist Dennis Bradley recently supported a diving operation for USACE's Middle East District in Bahrain. Bradley said although there was a language barrier with the contractor divers, they were able to overcome it with mutual respect and hand gestures. Bradley is shown here receiving "bunny ears," the universal signal that he's been accepted as part of the team.

When an organization works with a district in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one of the benefits to them is not only getting the knowledge and expertise within that district but an entire spectrum of capabilities from across the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

That ability to reach out and utilize expertise from another district is known as reach back and it’s a resource USACE’s Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) used when it was in need of dive safety support. While many USACE districts maintain dams, levees and other water related infrastructure with a need for dive safety expertise, TAM’s primary mission is supporting USCENTCOM and allied partners in the Middle East. Recently however, the district found itself working a pier refurbishment project for the U.S. Navy in Bahrain that included the need for safety dive plans and observation support for several dives by the contractor. 

Luckily for Melanie Barajas, TAM’s Chief of Safety, USACE civilians in other districts were willing to answer the call.

Barajas explained that prior to any dive, the contractor has to submit a comprehensive dive safety plan and it has to be reviewed and approved independently by the Designated Dive Coordinator (DDC) and a Dive Safety Representative (DSR). The dive safety plan covers numerous topics such as how the team will conduct the dive operations, the dive team’s training certificates, emergency response and rescue plans, activity hazard analyses, and much more.

“Dive operations are considered a high risk/hazard operation by USACE’s definition and require specialized support. Personnel who provide the dive support are certified through the USACE Diving Safety/Diving Supervisor/Diving Inspector/Diving Coordinator or Dive Safety Administration Course, but since we don’t have an ongoing need for something so specialized, it’s not cost effective for us to send someone to the course,” said Barajas.  “We’re fortunate that we have a strong volunteer roster of people in other districts who are certified in dive safety who are willing to help us when needed. It’s a win-win, we get their expertise and they get a great professional development opportunity, a way to gain more dive experience and the chance to see a part of the world they might not otherwise.”

One such dive safety representative was Dennis Bradley, USACE’s Little Rock District Chief of Safety & Occupational Health. Bradley said that while the skillset and mission requirements were very similar to working on a dive safety plan in the U.S., he appreciated the opportunity to work with another district and experience a change of scenery.

“Although I didn't find that the diving in the Middle East was much different than what we do in the states, it was nice to experience another culture. Everyone was very professional and respectful and when I advised the contractor of an infraction he took immediate action to correct it. Other than the language barrier I found it to be pretty much the same. They used the same equipment that we do and follow the same safety and health regulations,” said Bradley.

Bradley said even the language barrier was overcome by the smiles and gestures that kept everyone moving towards their common goal.

In addition to Little Rock District, TAM has also utilized Dive experts from the USACE Dive Community of Practice from Louisville and Sacramento Districts and also utilized the Tulsa District to review dive safety plans.

“I really appreciate the top-notch support we’ve received from everyone,” said Barajas. “It’s not just for the District but ensures our mission partners are getting the expertise they’ve come to expect.”

For his part, Bradley said he’d gladly help the district support future operations.

“I didn't consider this "just another job" because I felt like the talent that I brought to the table was well received and that everyone wanted to do what was right and I was able to facilitate that. I enjoyed my time in the Middle East and would make myself available again should they ever need my services.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division serves as USACE’s tip of the spear in one of the most dynamic construction environments in the world, STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS, BUILDING CAPACITY, and ENHANCING SECURITY for our nation, allies, and partners. 

We deliver agile, responsive, and innovative, design, construction, engineering and contingency solutions in support of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and other global partners to advance national security interests.

Transatlantic Division News

  • April

    Building Resilience and Respect: USACE’s Role in Sustaining Military Capacity at Camp Buehring During Ramadan

    Strategic Infrastructure is crucial for sustaining military capability, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plays a vital role in ensuring its effectiveness. As a part of monthly rotational site visit engagements, U.S. Army Col. Mohammed Z. Rahman, USACE Transatlantic Expeditionary District commander, along with a team of district engineers and the district Safety chief, traveled to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, to review two key projects: the Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility and the Udairi Landing Zone Transition Repair projects. These engagements exemplify USACE's commitment to operational excellence and project oversight.
  • USACE Strengthens Partnership for Global Infrastructure in Kuwait

    In a significant meeting held on March 17, at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, U.S. Army Col. Mohammed Z. Rahman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Expeditionary District commander, and Viet Nguyen, Expeditionary District deputy district engineer, engaged in strategic discussions with The U.S. Ambassador and the Economic Counselor from the American Embassy in Kuwait. The engagement centered around enhancing the role of USACE in the context of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, PGII, and its implications for U.S. and allied economic and national security interests.
  • March

    USACE Transatlantic Division employee embarks on Army Coaching Program journey

    A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division employee is undertaking an intense talent management program in order to help fellow employees in their careers; the first employee in the organization to do so.
  • February

    USACE Transatlantic Division: Setting Extraordinary Standards as ‘Partner of Choice’ in CENTCOM AOR

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division stands as a pivotal force in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. Since the 1950s, the Division has actively shaped the landscape of engineering, design, and construction across the Middle East. Transforming from its initial focus on basic military construction, the Division now leads sophisticated, large-scale infrastructure projects, demonstrating a deep commitment to building capacity and enhancing security in the region. By setting and consistently upholding extraordinary operational standards, it has established itself as the ‘partner of choice.’
  • January

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division Commander Promoted to Brigadier General

    Col. William C. Hannan, Jr., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division commander, was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during a ceremony here Jan. 16.
  • October

    On Solid Ground: Army Values are the Foundation of USACE Transatlantic Division’s Mission

    With a history of more than 70 years in the region, the Transatlantic Division oversees more than $5 billion in projects including military construction programs, force protection innovations, and security cooperation initiatives, strengthening Army readiness, enhancing vital infrastructure, and deepening global partnerships. Each action reinforces the Army's unwavering commitment to its service members and global partners.
  • USACE Innovation: The Key to 'Building Strong' in the CENTCOM AOR

    For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division, innovation is the essential energy that drives success. From the initial development phase of a project, through the design and construction, and well into the operational phase, innovation drives the relentless pursuit of excellence, supporting sustainable strategies and fostering the development of long-lasting, reliable solutions.
  • September

    USACE Transatlantic Division supports Typhoon Mawar disaster relief

    A staff member assigned to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division was activated and sent to Guam from June until July to assist FEMA, federal partners and territorial officials’ response to the typhoon which caused significant impacts to essential services throughout portions of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, including water, energy and transportation.
  • ‘Go Army, Beat Navy’: A Time-honored Rivalry Transformed into Integrated Partnership in Bahrain

    In a series of key leader engagements, U.S. Army Col. William C. Hannan, Jr., Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division commander, visited Bahrain on Sept. 11, to fortify the already strong inter-service partnerships with the Naval Forces Central Command and Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
  • August

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division participates in Eagle Resolve 2023

    Two staff members assigned U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, May 21- 25, 2023 to participate in Eagle Resolve 2023, a Combined Joint All-Domain exercise which improves interoperability on land, in the air, at sea, in space, and in cyberspace with the U.S. military and partner nations, enhances the ability to respond to contingencies, and underscores USCENTCOM's commitment to the Middle East.