By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
Teams from U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 deployed from commander, Task Force 68 out of Rota, Spain, and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, participated in the annual multinational exercise Northern Coasts 2019, Sept. 4-19, 2019.
The exercise, co-hosted by Germany and Denmark near the Danish straits and along the northern coast of Germany, is designed to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional partners.
U.S. maritime forces worked with counterparts from partner nations on land and at sea to restore freedom of navigation through maritime surveillance, naval combat, air-defense, anti-submarine warfare and mine-clearance.
“It’s ideal to train with our allied forces and see how well we work together and build that rapport in the field and in the maritime,” said Lt. Nicholas DeMasters, troop commander for U.S. expeditionary forces. “The drills we are running on each other’s unmanned maritime systems and EOD platoons are realistic and ensure a ready mindset for countering global or regional threats. This Northern Coasts team is an amalgamation of EOD capability.”
The overall exercise scenario encompassed approximately 3,000 troops and more than 40 vessels. Canadian, Danish, German, and U.S. forces were involved in the expeditionary piece of the exercise, which utilized unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and EOD operators to detect, identify and engage maritime sea mines and land-based improvised explosive devices, mines, weapons’ caches, and other threats to the allied forces.
This year’s participating countries included Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. NATO staff personnel also participated.
“The Northern Coast exercise reinforces our warfighter readiness and demonstrates our collective expeditionary mine countermeasure capabilities,” said Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. “Working alongside our partners and allies in this challenging environment strengthens the enduring relationships that contribute to stability and security in the Baltics, and is critical to our collaborative approach to rapidly respond to emergent regional crises.”
The platoon from MDSU 2 conducted 13 UUV operations to cover nine square nautical miles of underwater sonar imaging and detected nearly 60 contacts, with more than 10 successfully reacquired and identified by the EOD platoon through very shallow water (VSW) dives. The EOD platoon also engaged and neutralized more than 10 ground and maritime IEDs.
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.