Five-nation mine countermeasure drill Dugong kicks off

Mine countermeasure and explosive ordnance disposal personnel from five countries met at an opening ceremony for the 19th iteration of Exercise Dugong, on November 11.

US Navy file photo

Dugong 2019 brings mine warfare and dive teams from United States of America, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand together for two weeks to practice contemporary mine warfare and dive salvage techniques and procedures in the vicinity of Garden Island.

US Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five (EODMU5), Platoon 502 brings skilled technicians who can render safe all types of ordinance, in addition to the ability to safely dispose of hazardous munitions, pyrotechnics, and retrograde explosives using detonation and burning techniques.

“Having all of our closest allies come together and show one another our diving capabilities as well as new technologies that everyone is incorporating will be fascinating.” Said Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Jonathan Ross. “Practicing Mine Countermeasure Operations in a different part of the world furthering our cold-water training and exercising under logistical constraints pushes our limits and shows us how better to plan in the future.”

Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) One will also take part, conducting harbor clearance operations in the vicinity of Garden Island, enhancing interoperability and diving capabilities as a part of the international exercise.

“Through exercise Dugong 2019, our EOD teams will work side-by-side with their counterparts in the Royal Australian Navy to conduct a Full Mission Profile of Unmanned Systems (UMS) and Mine Countermeasures (MCM) to detect, classify, and neutralize potential threats.” Said Cmdr. Brandon Casperson, chief staff officer Commander, Task Force 75. “Exercises like Dugong 2019 are an important part of building confidence with our foreign partners and increasing our interoperability proficiency within the MCM platforms. It also provides us an opportunity to exchange best practices with equipment, tactics, techniques, and procedures in Mine Countermeasures.”

Dugong also provides an opportunity to practice mine countermeasure techniques in a unique environment. Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One (EODMU1), Platoon 142 will also join the exercise, using unmanned systems (UMS) to practice detecting mines and mine-like objects without putting personnel at risk in a suspected minefield. By participating in Dugong, they can test their equipment and procedures in an area where salinity, water temperature and ocean floor contours differ from the environments that they are used to.