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US, UK Work Together in SQUADEX-16

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS160808-19
Release Date: 8/8/2016 2:54:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan D. McLearnon, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- U.S. Navy and U.K. Royal Navy conducted mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise SQUADEX-16 in the Arabian Gulf, July 30 through Aug. 5.

"SQUADEX is a quarterly exercise that provides an opportunity for U.K. and U.S. assets to further develop and test their minehunting capabilities," said Cmdr. David Morgan, commander of U.K. Mine Countermeasures Force.

Participating naval vessels included U.S. Navy mine countermeasures ships USS Gladiator (MCM 11) and USS Sentry (MCM 3), U.K. landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) and U.K Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunters HMS Bangor (M109) and HMS Penzance (M106).

"My intent is to maximize the opportunity provided by the SQUADEX to demonstrate our capability in mine detection and classification, focusing on lessons learned from previous exercises in operator skill and equipment capability, whilst developing coalition interoperability in a MCM environment," said U.K. Maritime Component Commander, Royal Navy Commodore William Warrender.

As part of the exercise, participating MCM vessels set mine shapes in areas to test the efficiency of U.S. and U.K. assets in mine detection, utilizing five difference sonars from surface platforms, divers and aircraft. This allowed participating ships to establish a more accurate timeline and data on how long it takes to clear an area of mines.

"I am keen that the exercise design and execution allows us to identify the contribution that the operator, environment and equipment have on MCM operational capabilities," said Warrender.

U.S. and U.K. sailors conducted minehunting in challenging environmental conditions including high sea temperatures and variable depths. With continued advances in technology in MCM operations, ships were able to use remote operated vehicles (ROVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and explosive ordnance disposal divers to assist in clearing areas.

"A robust mine countermeasures capability in the [Arabian] Gulf is vital to ensuring that sea lanes remain open and free, to safeguard freedom of navigation and legitimate trade," said Morgan.

The U.S. and U.K. will continue to conduct joint training exercises to assess lessons learned from MCM operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

"The development of mine countermeasures techniques and technology is vital to the continued free flow of commerce," said Capt. Eric Wirstrom, commodore of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52. "The cooperation demonstrated by U.S. and U.K. forces during SQUADEX attests to the shared interests our navies have in deterring threats to regional stability."

CTF 52 plans and executes mine warfare operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet operational objectives. The command's efforts are critical to maintaining sea lines of communication, deterring and countering disruptive adversaries, and strengthening regional partner maritime capabilities to promote a secure maritime environment in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.



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