Experimental mine countermeasures drill concludes in Croatia

US Navy explosive ordnance disposal specialists joined forces with maritime forces from the Republic of Croatia for an experimental mine countermeasures (MCM) operation in Croatian waters on August 17.

Photo: US Navy

In a combined partnership between US Sixth Fleet, the US Office of Naval Research, and Croatian Naval Forces, the operation was the last in a series of three operations focused on employment and evaluation of next generation automated underwater vehicle (AUV) expeditionary MCM systems.

The two previous iterations of this operation took place during Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018, a joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise featuring forces from NATO allies and regional partners in the Baltic Sea region, and exercise Noble Melinda, an explosive ordnance disposal and MCM exercise that featured maritime forces from the Mediterranean Sea region.

The operation was carried out by sailors assigned to Task Force (TF) 68, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8, and Underwater Construction Team (UTC) 1, and helped EOD technicians determine the best employment of AUVs in the MCM domain.

“Working with the Croatian mine clearance diver forces this past week has been a great experience.” said Lt. j.g. Logan Burchett, EOD officer in charge. “Getting to apply advanced mine countermeasures training and enhancing the interoperability between our two nations has proven to be an excellent experience for both myself and my platoon.”

In addition to the technical aspect of the operation, Croatian maritime forces enhanced the professional relationship between maritime forces among the two NATO allies, and increased the capacity of both navies to conduct the full spectrum of military operations necessary to deter adversaries and respond to any threat to regional security.

“My Platoon was given an incredible opportunity to dive alongside our Croatian brothers,” said Chief EOD Technician Mike Morris. “We were able to dive with a newer version of a commercial off the shelf hand held sonar. The Office of Naval Research provided our divers with a recently scanned map of the operations area. This gave the divers more situational awareness making them more cognizant of the obstacles around and minimizing their time in a potentially hazardous environment.”