UK Navy Divers Challenge Each Other in Iceland

Devising highly complex explosive devices and then challenging each other to disarm them was the name of the game for Royal Navy divers during a NATO exercise in Iceland.

Ten men from Fleet Diving Unit 2, based at Horsea Island, Portsmouth, worked with personnel from eight other nations in a series of exercises disabling IEDs.

Teams of personnel took part in a range of scenarios, both on land and at sea, during the two-week Exercise Northern Challenge, hosted by the Icelandic Coast Guard at the former naval air station in Keflevik.

An annual exercise, this year’s scenario was based on terrorists taking over Iceland by planting hundreds of IEDs to try to destabilise the government as well as affect the economy.

Leading Diver Paul Hill worked closely with the other nations in a ‘bomb-making factory’ constructing realistic training devices, which were used to replicate real IEDs and test the abilities of the disposal personnel.

Constructing dummy IEDs to test the teams was really interesting.

I learned a lot from the other NATO divers and feel that we made a real contribution in testing the skills of all the teams.

Other team members worked side by side with their counterparts from other nations on land and conducted force protection diving exercises in harbours and waterways.

Divers were able to see other nations’ military tactics, techniques and procedures during a series of scenarios which involved hundreds of realistic but inert IED training aids, which were built months before the exercise.

The teams included five Army Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) teams, 12 Navy IEDD teams and one law enforcement advanced IEDD team. Commanding Officer of Southern Diving Group Lt Cdr Al Nekrews coordinated the exercise as Commander of the Multi-National EOD Cell.

Commanding Officer of the Fleet Diving Group Lieutenant Commander Kev Stockton said:

Exercise Northern Challenge has been an excellent opportunity to bring to bear all of the specialist disciplines that FDU2 deliver as the Royal Navy’s expeditionary Maritime IEDD capability.

As well as the UK, military personnel from Iceland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Austria, France, Italy, The Netherlands and the USA took part in the exercise, which supports NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work.

Royal Navy divers deploy on minehunter ships but also work in teams across the UK as on-call bomb disposal experts and were deployed throughout Op Herrick in Afghanistan.

Press release, Image: UK Navy

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