By NAVEUR/ NAVAF/ SIXTH FLEET Public Affairs
Service members and high-ranking officials from the U.S. and Croatia celebrated the ground-breaking ceremony of the EOD Training Facility construction at Lora Naval Base Split, Croatia, April 14, 2021.
Officials in attendance were Capt. Cameron Chen, commodore, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 68, and Command Master Chief Larry Sharpe, Croatian Rear Admiral Damir Dojkic Chief of Staff; Deputy Commander of Croatian Navy and Croatian MCPON Boris Skokic.
This construction project, to be carried out on the Croatian Naval Base at Lora, will enable further training of Croatian Armed Forces personnel in the ongoing efforts to clear and render safe the over 400 square kilometers of land mine fields in Croatia and the over 3,000 underwater mine contacts in Croatian territorial waters.
“This training center will greatly enhance the [United States European Command] EUCOM Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) training by expanding the breadth and depth of our cooperation to ensure that others can walk the earth in safety,” said Mr. Mark Veneris, EUCOM J9 department, Humanitarian Mine Action Program Manager.
The U.S.-Croatia partnership at sea is essential to the two countries’ NATO military cooperation and shared security.
U.S. Sixth Fleet forces regularly work with Croatian partners, including training together in naval diving, building capacity for the Croatian military, and operating shoulder-to-shoulder around the European and African theater.
"We are excited to engage in projects that require this level of coordination and cooperation." said Mr. Jose Hernandez, Project Manager, NAVFAC EURAFCENT. "We worked with the Croatian Navy, Naval Forces Europe and Africa and Sixth Fleet to translate the needs of our military partners into a construction contract that was awarded to a local Croatian company. When the construction is complete, this contract is will result in a facility and training area that will enable our NATO partners to train more effectively. We're proud to have a role in this project."
CTF 68’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 have conducted Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) training at the Lora Naval Base Split with the Croatian Navy Mine Clearance Diver Unit (CNMCDU) for several years, but the facilities at Lora Naval base were insufficient and unsafe for the advancement of training. After EODMU 8 and Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) N46 department developed a scope of work for this project, coordination with the United States European Command (EUCOM) J9 department HMA program manager (PM) resulted in a TASKORD and funding for construction of an HMA Training Facility at Split Croatia.
Before conducting the actual ground-breaking with Rear Admiral Damir Dojkic, Capt. Chen spoke at the event recognizing the historic precedence set between the partnering nations and the importance of the facility to future joint and multinational operations.
Commander, Task Force 68 based out of Rota, Spain, is a subordinate command of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force (NECF), executing construction and engineering projects in support of airfield damage repair, building and maintaining critical infrastructure; and providing power, water, and other essential commodities in the U.S. Sixth Fleet Area of Operation. The NECF is strengthened by the support of the American public and values opportunities to increase public awareness and understanding of the Navy through participation in community outreach events nationwide.
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 security interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.