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Guardian and Royal Thai Navy Successful in Cobra Gold 07 MCM Operations

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070517-20
Release Date: 5/17/2007 3:56:00 PM

By Lt j.g. Steve Peterson, USS Guardian (MCM 5) Public Affairs

CHUK SAMET HARBOR, Thailand (NNS) -- The Sasebo, Japan-based minesweeper USS Guardian (MCM 5) completed several days of at-sea mine countermeasure operations May 15 off the shores of Sattahip, Thailand, as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 07.

Guardian and embarked Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Detachment (Det.) 51 worked alongside the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) minesweeper Tha Din Daeng (MHC 634) to detect, sweep and neutralize simulated mines.

On the first day of the active exercise, which began May 11, Guardian, Tha Din Daeng and a U.S. P-3 Orion from Patrol Squadron 4 randomly laid exercise mines within specific operating boxes in the waters of Chuk Samet Harbor. The P-3 Orion deployed two simulated mine shapes, while Guardian deployed eight simulated mine shapes and the Tha Din Daeng deployed two simulated mine shapes.

Following the mine-laying Guardian and Tha Din Daeng worked together to neutralize the mine shapes with a series of underwater detonations or at least map the mines, so that sea traffic could flow freely as if it were a real scenario.

“This was an important opportunity for us to execute our specialty which is to locate, neutralize, and clear mines that threaten shipping lanes and work closely with our counterparts from the Royal Thai Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steve DeMoss, Guardian’s commanding officer. “The coordinated effort between us and the Thais was exemplary and bodes well for future operations together. I am confident that if a real-world scenario were ever to occur involving mines, we would have the bilateral capabilities to keep the seas safe.”

While Tha Din Daeng hunted for mines in one operating area, a short distance away Guardian hunted in another. When Guardian’s sonar operators detected two mine-like objects, minemen armed the AN/SLQ-48 Mine Neutralization Vehicle (MNV), a remote-controlled, unmanned submersible vehicle with an explosive mission package designed to countercharge the mines, took over.

These explosive mission packages are floating bomblets designed to neutralize moored mines from a safe distance. Video cameras on the vehicle allow the operator to visually identify and classify the sonar contact as a mine. The explosive bomblets are attached to the moored mines by the MNV.

The MNV is carried aboard Guardian for such missions, and is operated by Mineman qualified to “fly” the vehicle from a remote station within the ship.

“We train year-round to expertly pilot the vehicle,” said Mineman 3rd Class Bradley Derum, assigned to the Guardian Operations Department. “Though this is not a real-world situation, it closely resembles one and shows that we are ready and can successively carry out the mission at any time. This is the reason I came to a forward-deployed ship.”

After the mission package is attached to the moored mine, the MNV is remotely “flown” back to Guardian. The ship positions itself a safe distance away to execute the remote detonation of the mission package.

Similar ordnance-intensive neutralizing measures were employed by Guardian’s EOD detachment. On May 13 EOD deployed from Guardian on a 10-meter MK5 Zodiac to mine shape-laden operating areas. The EOD divers were able to visually identify the targets as mines and neutralize them with explosive charges.

During the course of the mine countermeasures operations, Guardian used approximately 1,000 pounds of explosives to safely detonate numerous exercise mine shapes.

Throughout the operations, Guardian hosted guests from various regional media services as well as members of the Royal Thai Army and Navy for daylong rides to observe evolutions and experience life aboard a U.S. minesweeper.

In addition to working alongside the RTN minesweeper, having the guests aboard Guardian, helped build key relationships, said Demoss.

“One of the goals of this exercise is to improve military-to-military relationships between the U.S. and Thai navies,” said DeMoss. “We have achieved that and much more. This crew should be proud of both their mission accomplishment and by being good hosts and ambassadors.”

Guardian, with embarked EODMU 5 Det. 51, is currently on deployment in Southeast Asia to support the U.S. 7th Fleet’s interoperability and training commitments in mine neutralization warfare and maritime operations. Guardian serves under Task Force 76, based out of Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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