Mine countermeasure ships deployed to NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) worked with the the Royal Norwegian Navy recently to locate WWII ordnance in the waters of Oslo Fjord.
The group detected a total of 23 mines from and four torpedoes over the last two weeks.
Conducting mine identification and neutralization in the freezing waters of Oslo Fjord, sometimes dipping to two degrees Celsius, demonstrates the capabilities of the ships to operate under these conditions to ensure safe access to harbors and sea lanes.
Commander Peter Ramboer of the Belgian Navy led the efforts from the group flagship HNLMS Mercuur, working with Royal Navy Mine Countermeasures Vessel HMS Cattistock, Royal Norwegian Navy minesweeper HNoMS Rauma and Royal Norwegian Navy mine hunter HNoMS Måløy.
“Our recent mine counter measures operations in Norwegian waters off Oslo proved to be extremely valuable,” said Commander Ramboer, “With more than twenty mine finds we have made the approaches to Oslo safer. We took the opportunity of the presence of WWII mines in a challenging environment to enhance our operational readiness. The fact that we helped to make this place safer is a bonus and boosts morale for future operations.”
As the breeding season for cod and other species of fish continues through February, the found ordnance was not detonated, but moved them to a safe place in the Fjord. Norwegian authorities will later decide on a suitable timing for the destruction of them.
The NATO group regularly conducts historical ordnance disposal operations or “HOD Ops” in coordination with Allied Navies as a way to sharpen the skills of the group on real mines and other ordnance as well as provide a service to nations by identifying and neutralizing (as needed) naval mines from previous conflicts.