ARS 50  
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May 24, 2002 The U.S. Air Force has requested the assistance of the U.S. Navy to recover the wreckage of an F-16 aircraft that crashed April 15 into the Sea of Japan off the coast of the Aomori Prefecture. USS Safeguard (ARS 50) is scheduled to begin operations May 29, after a civilian contracted firm surveys the ocean floor at the crash site to localize the position of the wreckage.

June 23, 2003 USS Safeguard arrived in Muara, Brunei, for the week-long Brunei phase, of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT).

August 16, ARS 50 recovered a sunken amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) off the coast of Okinawa. The Marine AAV, an armored landing vehicle capable of carrying troops from ship to shore, sank while being towed following a training exercise in April. The vehicle was located in June by USS Guardian (MCM 5) and technicians from Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 5. Safeguard, which operates out of Sasebo, Japan, arrived in White Beach, Okinawa, Aug. 8 to begin the complex rigging required to recover the 26-ton vehicle.

July 23, 2004 Sailors from USS Safeguard and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JDS Amakusa (AMS 4303), joined together for a training session here in support of a combined Towing Exercise (TOWEX) between the two navies.

April 21, 2005 Lt. Cmdr. Doyle K. Hodges relieved Lt. Cmdr. Ed Thompson as commanding officer of ARS 50. Thompson took command of the Navy’s only forward deployed rescue and salvage ship in July 2003.

June 7, USS Safeguard visited Changi and Sembawang, Singapore, May 5-15 to take part in exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) '05. After setting sail from her forward operating base of Sasebo, Japan, April 21, the rescue and salvage ship rendezvoused with USS Guardian (MCM 5) just outside of the Luzon Strait to escort the forward-deployed mine countermeasures ship to Thailand in support of Cobra Gold.

August 23, USS Safeguard completed the final phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2005 in the Philippines, successfully solidifying a long road in cooperation at sea and ashore.

September 28, ARS 50 completed the first Salvage Exercise (SALVEX) with the Indian navy Sept. 24, conducting 12 days of combined dive exercises off of India’s western coast city of Cochin and its surrounding waters.

October 16, USS Safeguard returned to Sasebo, Japan, after completing a six-month deployment in support of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2005.

April 4, 2006 ARS 50 conducted Salvage Exercise (SALVEX) 06 with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy diving and salvage ship ROKS Pyong Taek (ATS 27), March 16-30. The two navies completed two weeks of combined salvage and rescue training, both in-port and at-sea, focusing on a number of practical areas, including combined diving operations, heavy lift procedures, underwater cutting and welding, and a drill to practice procedures for moving an injured diver to medical care ashore. Safegaurd and Pyong Taek also teamed up in a real-world salvage operation to recover components of a U.S. Air Force F-16C fighter that was lost at sea March 14. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by the ROK Air Force.

May 11, USS Safeguard, with assistance from Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, recovered the majority of components of a U.S. Air Force 8th Fighter Wing F-16C fighter aircraft and its “black box”. The rescue and salvage ship arrived at the crash site May 5 and after prepping the area, commenced diving the morning of May 7. After three-and-a-half days and 12 surface-supplied dives, ARS 50 managed to recover 85 percent of the sunken aircraft, including the cockpit area, wing segments and several pieces of data recording equipment. A similar effort began March 25 but was suspended five days later due to bad weather.

February 2, 2007 ARS 50 completed a series of training dives over a three-day period Jan. 29-31 off the coast of Sasebo, Japan. The training consisted of more than 14 total deep sea dives and 10 recompression chamber dives, testing Safeguard divers in a number of situations and increased their proficiency to carry out the ship's primary mission of rescue and salvage.

February 15, The Safeguard recently departed Kagoshima, Japan, after a scheduled port visit.

March 20, ARS 50 conducted a towing exercise March 15 in the Sea of Japan, working with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Ship JS Amakusa (AMS 4303).

April 10, USS Safeguard conducted a de-beaching exercise with Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) ship ROKS Pyungtaek (ATS-27) during an annual salvage exercise (SALVEX 07).

September 26, USS Safeguard was decommissioned and transferred to Military Sealift Command (MSC) in a ceremony held in Sasebo, Japan. Safeguard’s new civil service master, Capt. Edward Dickerson, and 26 civil service crew members then reported aboard. The ship will continue to complete salvage and recovery missions as USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50).