Royal Navy’s divers train Ukrainian counterparts to disarm Russian mines
Royal Navy divers, bomb disposal and mine warfare experts are training their Ukrainian counterparts on finding and safely neutralising mines and other explosive devices.
Specialist personnel from the Royal Navy’s Diving and Threat Exploitation Group (DTXG) – experts in dealing with explosive threats on land through extensive experience in Afghanistan, and at sea with the UK’s respected mine warfare forces – used the remote waters of Loch Ewe in north-west Scotland to pass on their knowledge to Ukrainian Navy divers, Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operators and personnel who work with uncrewed underwater vehicles.
The Royal Navy has provided training over the past 12 months to Ukrainian personnel, and this is a part of UK’s widespread commitment to training and supporting Ukraine in opposing Russia’s illegal invasion.
Sailors from Delta Diving Unit 1 and DTXG’s Operational Support Squadron delivered the training alongside NATO allies, including the United States, France, Belgium and Georgia, building on the existing knowledge and skills of the Ukrainian Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures team and helping them prepare for future operations.
Training progressed from clearing deep water shipping lanes to rendering shallow water and beaches safe for amphibious raids. It also covered clearing ports, jetties and any other infrastructure from potential threats.
Lieutenant Ali Aindow, Officer in Charge of Delta Diving Unit 1, said: ‘’It’s been great to be working with our close allies and partners again. We have been able to reinforce relationships and cohere into a single multi-national force able to find and destroy underwater or maritime threats for the Task Group Commander.”
Teams trained with crewless underwater vehicles – submarine robots packed with technology such as sensors that generate images of objects so operators can identify the threat.
Once a threat was identified, the divers moved in to neutralise the device and make the area safe. The training dealt with all types of exercise targets – free-floating buoyant mines, ground mines and improvised explosive devices in, on and around the water.
‘’This training has delivered real value,” said Lieutenant Commander David Starkey, Commanding Officer of DTXG Delta and Echo Squadrons.
“The operational capability of all the nations has improved and this continued effort, working together again has led to a really integrated team developing to counter explosive threats in the maritime environment.”