There is an age-old military proverb: “train how you fight and fight how you train”. The Mine Warfare (MIW) staff of the new Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) embodied this adage during a homeland defense exercise to ensure American ports remain free of mine threats, Oct. 26 – Nov. 6.
SMWDC’s MIW Battle Staff employed Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 3 and other commands to conduct a bicoastal defense effort to locate and remove simulated underwater explosives. Among those commands were: Mine Countermeasures Division 31, amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25), mine countermeasures ship USS Champion (MCM 4), Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1, 2, 11, and 12, Naval Oceanography and Mine Warfare Command (NOMWC), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), and a pair of U.S. Coast Guard sectors.
SMWDC’s engagement in the Field Training Exercise (FTX) improved operational readiness -- specifically by ensuring that participating MIW units were equipped with the skills needed to defend the homeland in support of the Maritime Operational Threat Response Plan.
“We demonstrated the ability to command and control mine countermeasure (MCM) operations in multiple U.S. ports – on the East and West Coast,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Baughman, vice commander of SMWDC’s Mine Warfare Task Force. “The MCM forces were able to successfully search, locate and clear exercise mine threats, and report that information back to military leaders.”
Baughman and his staff developed a plan to counter suspected mining in the homeland by organizing subordinate MCM forces – then executed a responsive action to simulated mining scenarios. The San Diego-based staff “coordinated with local authorities,” Baughman said, to combat threats in three areas: Colts Neck, New Jersey; Puget Sound, Washington; and Seal Beach, California.
(Oct. 28, 2015) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians, assigned to EOD Mobile Unit 12 (EODMU 12), participate in a force integration exercise led by The Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC). SMWDC's MIW Battle Staff employed Somerset, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 3 (MCMRON 3), EODMU 12, and other commands to conduct a bicoastal defense effort to locate and remove simulated underwater explosives Oct. 26 – Nov. 6. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kori Melvin/RELEASED)
One of the Navy’s newest ships, USS Somerset, supported the Southern California portion of the drill by acting as the Afloat Forward Staging Base. Multiple EODMU platoons supported the West Coast – from sunny SOCAL, to the chilly waters of Washington – with Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), EOD MCM divers, and unmanned vehicles.
“An 80-person team was able to successfully search and clear nearly 350 nautical miles, detect 75 mine-like objects, and neutralize 20 [simulated] mines in eight days,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher P. Kent, EODMU 2’s executive officer. “This training offered an ideal opportunity to exercise multiple underwater mine countermeasure capabilities (UMCM) in a challenging environment. Our MCM adaptive force package consisted of unmanned underwater vehicles, an expeditionary MCM company, and a command and control element sourced by us, EODMU 12, SPAWAR and NOMWC.”
Commissioned just three years ago, Somerset and its crew embraced SMWDC and its subordinate MCM Forces. The Navy’s latest amphibious transport dock ship was exposed to a rare opportunity to participate in real-time expeditionary threat scenarios.