Monday, February 1, 2010

** This day in Diving History -- 01 February 1966 -- Harbor Clearance Unit ONE Established **

01 February 1966; Harbor Clearance Unit ONE established at Subic Bay, Philippines. The establishment of HCU ONE was authorized by the Secretary of the Navy to fill the need for harbor clearance of any waterway or port in Vietnam. While the idea of a harbor clearance team harkened back to successful clearance operations by various units in WWII, this new operational concept gave Navy Salvage an additional capability. The missions of HCU ONE in Vietnam would call for committing small and highly mobile teams of well qualified salvage specialists to a job rather than relying on large salvage ships. While deep heavy salvage was and is very necessary; the waterways, rivers and deltas of certain geographic areas (like Vietnam) simply won't support large vessels just as open ocean doesn't do well with small ones.

The original crew of HCU ONE consisted of a hand-picked cadre of five officers and sixty-five enlisted men. The unit's headquarters started out as a barge specifically converted to a salvage tender that was outfitted with all the shop facilities, storage, and accommodations necessary to support various salvage operations. The team would later acquire adequate medical, office and armory facilities. A typical diving team consisted of an officer and 18 enlisted men. These Divers were all a colorful and confident bunch (as would be expected) even giving their teams nicknames. For example, HCU ONE Team FIVE was originally known as Bennett's Bastards after their OIC LT John Bennett. HCU ONE Team ONE was known as Naquin's Nitwits again after the OIC LT John C. Naquin. HCU ONE grew in men and equipment during its years of existence and amassed a huge record of success. During its tenure in the Philippines, the unit was awarded two Navy Unit Commendations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation and a Vietnamese Unit Cross of Gallantry. Eventually, HCU ONE would move its homeport to Hawaii and later be renamed Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit ONE where it continues operations today. Its east coast counterpart Harbor Clearance Unit TWO would be stood up 8 months later on October 1, 1966 and will be covered in a future email.

Note: To see more HCU ONE photos and sea stories than could possibly be attached to this email check out the following website: