By CTF-68 Public Affairs
U.S. Navy Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit 8 conducted a Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) certification training event with Croatian Mine Clearance Diving Platoon in Split, Croatia from February 15 to March 5.
The training involved a wide array of EOD skills including demolition procedures, and criteria used to safely identify, transport, and dispose of conventional unexploded ordnance.
The U.S. Navy personnel are participating with an emphasis on EOD operations and interoperability training in relevant environments in Croatia.
“Croatia is a vital NATO Ally that is critical to European security,” said Capt. Cameron Chen, Commodore of CTF-68.
Mine warfare is an ever-present threat that disrupts maritime security on a global scale, and nations around the world are working together 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.
“Completion of this HMA training brings the Host Nation closer to developing an EOD Center of Excellence where they can begin to teach this curriculum to other allied nations,” said LT Smith, the EOD Mobility Platoon’s OIC. “Through these efforts, the Croatian Navy EOD possess the capability of integration with other NATO forces to clear landmines and explosive remnants of war, ultimately resulting in the protection of personnel and property.”
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.
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.
“Engagements like these help foster relationships that ultimately strengthen both Nations’ efforts to rid the country of explosive hazards that have plagued the citizens for years.” said EOD2 Austin Forester, a team member of the EOD Mobility Platoon. “I feel as if I learn as much from the students as they learn from me.”
The unit took every precaution, following Croatian health protocols, to ensure the health and safety of our Sailors, along with our NATO Allies, while remaining operationally ready.
The Sailors followed strict COVID-19 mitigation measures in congruence with CDC guidelines to include restriction of movement prior to travel, mask wearing, social distancing as training allowed, and taking multiple COVID-19 tests.
The U.S. Navy routinely engages in complex military trainings and exercises to ensure we are prepared to fight alongside our NATO Allies and partners.
Navy Expeditionary Combat Force Europe-Africa/Task Force 68 is responsible for providing explosive ordnance disposal operations, naval construction, expeditionary security and theater security efforts to Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet.
U.S. Sixth 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.