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Joint Exercise Tests Mine Warfare Training

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070522-11
Release Date: 5/22/2007 12:55:00 PM

By Ed Mickley, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 300 Sailors tested their mine warfare proficiency from May 7 to 16 during Gulf of Mexico Exercise (GOMEX) 07-2, which marks the transition training to ready-to-deploy status and includes integrated surface, air and undersea mine countermeasures (MCM) operations.

This exercise was the first in which the Navy Mission Essential Task List was used as a fleetwide standardized assessment procedure to evaluate mine countermeasure operations.

“There are Sailors on board to oversee the operational aspects of the exercise,” said Cmdr. Robert Hoar, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC) Assessment Division department head, during the exercise. “We’re seeking to improve mine countermeasure operations across the fleet.”

GOMEX 07-2 also served as a certification exercise for Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 3. The exercise was conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, near Panama City operating areas.

“These exercises verify the capability of the crews,” Hoar added. “They demonstrate their proficiency in ship handling, mine sweeping, and command and control coordination during operations, then are certified in mine countermeasure operations.”

Two Canadian ships, the HMCS Goose Bay (MM 707) and HMCS Kingston (MM 700), participated to hone their skills by utilizing mine countermeasure techniques for their route survey ships. These Canadian forces sharpened both their side scan sonar proficiency as well as their remote operating vehicle (ROV) identification system tactics.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Alan Offer, commanding officer of the Kingston, the Canadians worked with the U.S. mine countermeasures ships to train and evaluate the crews’ technique providing opportunities they normally don’t see.

“It is a chance to prove our equipment and methods,” he added.

Capt. Kevin Tokarick, commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 3, based in Ingleside, Texas, was the tactical commander of MCM forces participating in GOMEX. The exercise included integrated mine countermeasures operations using surface ships, helicopters and explosive ordnance disposal detachments.

Ships from MCM class included the USS Blackhawk (MHC 58), USS Devastator (MCM 6), and USS Shirke (MHC 62). Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 based in Norfolk sent three MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters to participate and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 Detachment 7 provided diver support.

Subject matter experts from Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, who assess the Navy's integrated MCM capabilities, performed this one as well as provided the MCMRON an opportunity to attain their certification.

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