Press Day Remarks for the Seychelles Dive Team Engagement

U.S. Navy LCDR Kohlmann addresses participants and press.

Press Day Remarks for the Seychelles Dive Team Engagement
Remarks – OSC Chief, LCDR Kohlmann
Friday, December 9, 2022, 10:30am

It is an extreme honor to represent the United States at this event today as we recognize and make known a very meaningful engagement that is currently ongoing.

13 U.S. Navy divers from Commander, Task Force sixty-eight, based in Rota, Spain, are helping Seychelles Coast Guard and Seychelles Ports Authority remove the submerged wreckage of the Oceans Bounty vessel right in front of us. The submerged vessel is a hazard to navigation in the port area and is blocking valuable pier space.

At the same time, and also near to us right now, members of a U.S. Navy Fleet Survey Team, also together with Seychelles Coast Guard and Seychelles Ports Authority, are conducting a complete hydrographic survey of the Seychelles harbor area, to include the Seychelles Coast Guard pier area. This survey will provide valuable data for future Seychelles Port Authority port expansion designs, and Seychelles Coast Guard pier renovation projects. According to CTF-68 divers, the ongoing hydrographic survey is the largest survey the team has ever conducted.

In addition to the practical outcomes of these two missions, namely the removal of the wreckage, and the hydrographic survey report, this engagement is important because it highlights the robust security cooperation relationship that is shared between Seychelles and the United States. And this event is indeed one of cooperation. Both of our countries have contributed greatly to make sure this engagement is a success.

On the Seychelles side, Seychelles Ports Authority has provided transportation to and from the airport for the U.S. dive and salvage equipment, all the oxygen that will be used for the welding and cutting of the vessel, diesel fuel for equipment operation, the crane you can see behind us for removal of scrap metal, a shipping container for secure storage of U.S. equipment, a generous supply of drinking water (much needed in this hot weather), and other items necessary for the completion of this project.

From the Seychelles Defense Forces side, they have provided several rooms in the Seychelles Defense Academy barracks to house the entire U.S. dive team, food and water during their stay, a vessel and fuel for the conduct of the hydrographic survey, and a coxswain for piloting the survey vessel.

On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank Seychelles for this tremendous support. As always, your team has gone above and beyond. Your generosity is a testament to the importance of our U.S.-Seychelles partnership, and to the things we can accomplish when we work together. From the United States side, as mentioned, we have brought a 13-person dive and salvage team with specialized expertise and knowledge in dive and salvage operations. The team traveled all the way from Rota, Spain via a U.S. military aircraft, along all the necessary dive and salvage equipment needed to complete the salvage operation and the survey. While it is never very difficult to convince anyone to travel to Seychelles for 3-weeks, it can be a challenge to devote vast resources for operations of the magnitude we’re seeing here today. Many thanks to U.S. CTF-68 and their team of divers for committing these resources so that this engagement can be a success.

In closing, let me reiterate our hope and desire that this and any future United States security assistance to Seychelles continues to advance our mutual goal of a more secure and prosperous maritime environment in and around Seychelles. Thank you again for your support and for having us here today.