Story by PO1 Heather Salzman on 06/19/2019PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 held a change of command ceremony on Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, June 14.
Lt. Cmdr. Mike Dobling, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa was relieved by Lt. Cmdr. John Kvandal, from San Diego, California, as the commanding officer of UCT-2 in a ceremony attended by military and civilian guests, and distinguished visitors.
Capt. David McAlister, commodore of Naval Construction Group 1, the guest of honor, expressed his gratitude for Dobling's accomplishments during his tenure as commanding officer before awarding him the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal.
"Lt. Cmdr. Dobling has led this elite team of underwater construction experts with passion, drive and engaged leadership," said McAlister. "He has maximized every opportunity to build readiness and develop leaders in every single paygrade."
He mentioned Dobling's command of a Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Task Unit during Exercise Pacific Blitz 2019, where he led 300 personnel from five different units who conducted port security, maritime prepositioning force operations, expeditionary airfield damage repair, port damage repair, explosive demolition, and deep water diving missions throughout southern California. He also cited UCT-2's involvement in the Air Niugini flight 73 rescue in the Federated States of Micronesia, where the unit was vital to the survival of passengers on board when it crashed in the Chuuk lagoon.
"Two years ago, I sat up here and talked about things I really didn't understand or know about; honor and privilege," said Dobling. "To be able to serve with a group like this, I didn't know then how special it would be. I will tell you this; it is the best job ever for three reasons; the mission, the people, and the family."
After the transfer of authority, Kvandal addressed the crowd.
"To the men and women of UCT-2 and your families, I have had the pleasure of working with [you] a couple of times before I got out here and I have always walked away inspired and impressed by your enthusiasm and professionalism," said Kvandal. "I truly believe you are among the best that the Navy has to offer and I am humbled with the responsibility of leading such a tremendous organization of professionals."
Kvandal previously served as Special Operations Officer at NAVSEA Advanced Undersea Systems Program. His expeditionary tours include company commander at Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 and officer in charge of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303 Det. Lemoore. In 2010, he was accepted into the Civil Engineering Corps Ocean Facilities Program and attended the University of California, San Diego prior to reporting to Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Florida, where he completed his Marine Engineering Dive Officer training. He later served at Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center, Washington Navy Yard, before reporting to Marine Corps Base Quantico Facilities, Engineering and Acquisitions Division office as a construction manager. He also served as the executive officer and operations officer of CBMU-303, and operations officer of NMCB-74.
Seabee diving began in WWII to address unique underwater missions such as underwater blasting to ensure unimpeded access by the fleet, channel and mooring work to support shipping and logistics, underwater construction in support of advanced naval bases, and salvage work. Most Seabee divers were assigned to naval mobile construction battalions, but some were assigned to more specialized underwater demolition teams. In the early 1970s, specially trained Seabee detachments were created to construct, and repair underwater facilities and those attachments ultimately became independent commands known as underwater construction teams.
UCT-2 is home-ported in Port Hueneme, California. Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the naval service. They provide task-tailored, adaptable and combat-ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support global Navy objectives.