US, Royal Navy team up for Squadex-16

Minehunters from the U.S. and Royal Navy conducted the quarterly mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise Squadex-16 in the Arabian Gulf, July 30 through August 5.

Participating naval vessels included U.S. Navy mine countermeasures ships USS Gladiator (MCM 11) and USS Sentry (MCM 3), U.K. landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) and U.K Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunters HMS Bangor (M109) and HMS Penzance (M106).

“My intent is to maximize the opportunity provided by the SQUADEX to demonstrate our capability in mine detection and classification, focusing on lessons learned from previous exercises in operator skill and equipment capability, whilst developing coalition interoperability in a MCM environment,” said U.K. Maritime Component Commander, Royal Navy Commodore William Warrender.

As part of the exercise, participating MCM vessels set mine shapes in areas to test the efficiency of U.S. and U.K. assets in mine detection, utilizing five different sonars from surface platforms, divers and aircraft. This allowed participating ships to establish a more accurate timeline and data on how long it takes to clear an area of mines.

Ships were also able to use remote operated vehicles (ROVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and explosive ordnance disposal divers to assist in clearing areas.

“The development of mine countermeasures techniques and technology is vital to the continued free flow of commerce,” said Capt. Eric Wirstrom, commodore of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52. “The cooperation demonstrated by U.S. and U.K. forces during SQUADEX attests to the shared interests our navies have in deterring threats to regional stability.”