RIMPAC 2016: USS Pearl Harbor hosts mine-diver drill

Divers from U.S. and Royal Australian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and German Armed Forces conducted dive operations training aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) while underway as part of the Southern California portion of the Rim of the Pacific 2016 exercise.

This is the first time a multi-nation diving evolution has taken place aboard Pearl Harbor. The training evolution consisted of mine warfare scenarios, including mine hunting, diver clearance searches and mine sweeping.

During the comprehensive evolution, participants had the opportunity to train far from the shores of their home nations, honing their craft alongside international partners. Personnel from nations involved were able to execute successful dive operations, perfect their diving techniques and improve the cooperation among partner nations.

“Our intentions in this training are to develop proficiencies in searching, identifying and disposing of underwater ammunition,” said German navy Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Leukert, division officer for the German Dive Team and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team of the German Navy Sea Battalion. “We are here to support MCM (mine countermeasure) operations with our dive team and work closely with our allied nations.”

“There’s a lot of coordination that goes into the wet well operations each day,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Audrey L. Herrington, Pearl Harbor 1st Lt. “Deck leadership is speaking very closely with the coalition dive teams each night to verify which crafts we’re going to be launching the next day. A lot of the operations for RIMPAC are dependent on sea state and weather, so we have to remain flexible and be ready to man the well deck or boat deck on extremely short notice.”

Royal Australian Navy Able Seaman Aaron Eagle, a clearance diver, said the training exercise provided an invaluable opportunity to improve his skills.

“Our core role is searching for mines,” Eagle said. “Diving is inherently dangerous, and this exercise gave us the opportunity to overcome language barriers with our partner nations, and learn each other’s capabilities. This will have long term benefits.”