German, US Navy EOD units wrap up joint drills

US Navy sailors from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12 joined their German Navy counterparts for two weeks of EOD training missions at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Nov. 27 through Dec. 11.

EODMU 12 and their German counterparts conducted training evolutions on expeditionary mine countermeasures, underwater remote operated vehicles, helicopter rope suspension technique, counter-homemade explosives, surface improvised explosive devices and a day of live-fire exercises.

“The value of this training is building partner relations, as well as getting hands-on experience using different tools, techniques and procedures that we may not use every day,” said Lt. j. g. Kevin Stoddard, EOD platoon commander.

The Germans, who specialize in mine countermeasure warfare, brought a unique skill-set and expertise to the joint training, giving their American EOD counterparts a new perspective.

“They are exceptionally good at the mine countermeasures mission,” Stoddard said. “How they operate in very shallow water and how they perform mine countermeasure dives are things we can possibly employ in our missions.”

The German unit, known as “minentaucher,” which translates to “mine clearance divers,” was perfectly at home in the water. Although they have the skillset of surface IED disposal, they took value in the hands-on experience of dealing with IEDs.

“One of the biggest things we will take back is the IED demolition procedures,” said German Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christian Dubberke, team leader with the German mine clearance diving company. “To see the American equipment and how they use it is very good for us to look at and use going forward.”

Although the language barrier was present at the beginning of the two-week training, both teams spoke a common language of EOD.

“Over the course of the training, we were able to get more comfortable, and we are fortunate enough to have a lot of the same phrases and words for the missions and equipment we use, so any language barrier that we had was really not an issue,” Dubberke said.

The training was not only an opportunity to explore best practices in various warfare missions but also a chance to get to know and develop friendships with other warriors performing similar missions.

“Everyone got along so great because we all have the same mentality, and we have a mutual respect for each other,” Stoddard said. “The relationships and friendships that we have forged are something that we will build on, and hopefully we can do this again.”