U.S., Royal Navy conduct mine countermeasure exercise

U.S. Navy Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures (EXMCM) Company 1 teamed up with British Second Mine Warfare Battle Staff (2MWBS) onboard RFA Cardigan Bay in the Arabian Gulf to complete the mine countermeasures squadron exercise (Squadex), January 23-25.

Squadex is a mine countermeasures exercise designed to assess the abilities of the U.S. Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units.

Lt. Andy Houck, commander of EXMCM Company 1, said: “Squadex is important for a number of reasons. Mainly, it integrates our forces in this theater, and we get to define our bi-lateral partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom.”

The exercise consisted of a series of day and night missions over a 36-hour time period, performing back-to-back operations.

During time-set missions, the technicians utilize various tools and techniques including the remote operated vehicles (ROV), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), and EOD divers to hunt for underwater training mines.

Receiving information of a possible mine, EXMCM companies are dispatched to the contact point where they launch their ROV. Controlled from an EOD vessel, the ROV provides sonar and visual imagery, finding the exact location of a mine. The ROV acts as a position holder as an EOD diver follows a tether and locates the mine.

CTG 56.1 conducts mine countermeasure, explosive ordnance disposal, salvage-diving, and force protection operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

The British 2MWBS is comprised of a team of 17 specialists drawn from multiple warfare and engineering disciplines from regular and reserve arenas. They are embarked on RFA Cardigan Bay, the Afloat Forward Support Base for the UK Mine Counter Measures Force.

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