Effective mine countermeasure training at Exercise Northern Coasts 2019

KORSOR, Denmark (Sept. 10, 2019) - Explosive ordnance disposal technicians assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 verify coordinates given by unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) prior to the EOD dive team entering the water to reacquire underwater training mines during exercise Northern Coasts in Korsor, Denmark, Sept. 10, 2019. Northern Coasts provides the opportunity for participating nations to engage in realistic maritime training, to build experience and teamwork, and strengthen our interoperability as we work toward mutual goals. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

A platoon from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 deployed from Task Force 68 out of Rota, Spain, and a team from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, are working together during exercise Northern Coasts 2019 to quickly neutralize maritime mine threats and validate the integration of unmanned maritime systems (UMS) and EOD forces at all levels.

Mine warfare is an ever-present threat that disrupts maritime security on a global scale and nations around the world are working together during exercises like Northern Coasts to quickly identify and neutralize these underwater threats. Harbor and beach clearance are key components of the Navy’s mine countermeasures (MCM) mission, the exercise’s maritime improvised explosive device (M-IED) and underwater mine scenarios are proving grounds for the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) and EOD diving units.

“Command and control integration is critical for successfully completing the MCM mission,” said Lt. John Hogan, officer in charge of platoon 801 from EODMU 8. “UUV platoons and EOD platoons need to work hand in hand throughout a full mission profile.”

Exercise Northern Coasts provides the opportunity for participating nations to engage in realistic maritime training, to build experience and teamwork, and strengthen our interoperability as we work toward mutual goals. The two Navy expeditionary units are working seamlessly together on similar expeditionary missions with their Canadian and German counterparts.

“Most other NATO countries have organic, full detect-to-engage capabilities that we put to the test during these exercises,” said Hogan. “Typically, EODMU 8 will integrate with UUV platoons of partner countries or other U.S. UUV platoons in order to search and clear an area.”

The UUV missions and follow-on EOD dives give commanders a better picture of where landing forces should be employed and what kind of threats allied forces need to neutralize.

The ExMCM team programmed and uploaded mapped-out missions to their Remote Environmental Measuring Units (REMUS) 100 UUVs while co-located with EOD divers who prepared their diving rigs, robotics and disposal equipment. They both have the same mission and are working together to accomplish it – greatly reducing the maritime threat for allied forces.

“The ability to simultaneously run large area side-scan sonar and reacquire and identify missions with EOD and UMS is an effective use of available assets and is reducing the find, fix, and finish process,” said Lt. Justin Adams, officer in charge of the ExMCM company from MDSU 2. “NOCO 19 has been a great opportunity to see other NATO country’s capabilities and assets in order to improve our knowledge and ability back at home.”

Autonomous torpedo-like underwater vehicles like the REMUS 100 Mk 18 family of systems (FoS) UUV ease the amount time divers need to spend in dangerous waters.

“Mod 1 capabilities, like high-fidelity sonar and video, make the MK 18 FoS our asset for mines in the water or below the surface while increasing safety of the operator,” said Adams.

Sailors are able to deploy UUVs to detect, locate, identify and capture images of undersea threats without risking loss of life. Increasing technologies on sensors and the user interface gives mission commanders more options and the ability to adjust parameters on the go through communication interfaces.

“The ability of EOD and UMS acting as one ExMCM company enhances communication and effectiveness, improves efficiency, and streamlines the detect-to-engage process,” said Adams.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, and promote security and stability in Europe and Africa.