Ships of the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1 recently concluded fire and flood control training in the North of Germany.
The exercise took place at the Einsatzausbildungszentrum Schadensabwehr (Combat Training Centre for Damage Control or EAZS) in Neustadt, about 30 miles southeast of Kiel.
The international force, which patrols the waters of northern Europe carrying out a mixture of present-day minehunting exercises and dealing with unexploded ordnance from last century’s conflicts, spent two weeks being tested to the limit at the German Navy’s naval warfare school.
The centre features a sinking ship simulator on land, a fire-fighting training comple and the former frigate Köln which was set on fire and partially flooded for sailors to deal with.
German instructors set a mock-up helicopter ablaze for the Royal Navy’s HMS Ramsey sailors to extinguish and had damage control teams hammering blocks of wood into holes in the hull of the training simulator – a proven method which saved HMS Nottingham from sinking when she was holed in Australia in 2002.
After a week in Neustadt, the training shifted to the Baltic with many of the same drills – minus the real fires and floods – plus air attacks and engine breakdowns closing with the rescue of a stricken merchant ship with casualties on board which had to be saved by the combined efforts of the minehunter force.
The group’s spell in the Baltic has allowed time to visit famous cities such as Copenhagen and Lübeck, as well as tiny ports like Neustadt and Rønne on the small Danish island of Bornholm.
After cutting back to the North Sea through the Kiel Canal, the German-led group paid a short visit to Amsterdam before heading out again.