SMWDC Mine Warfare Division
Tactical Excellence By Design
 
11/23/2015
SMWDC, Expeditionary Forces
Protect the Homeland during Mine Warfare Exercise

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.

EOD Technician
PACIFIC OCEAN (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.

 

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"It was an honor to for us,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Lennie Reed, Somerset’s commanding officer. “The crew was excited to execute in an uncommon warfare area for amphibious ships. The technology and assets for combating mine threats are truly advanced; and demonstrating strong communication and interoperability between Somerset crew, SMWDC, and EODMU 2 showcased the Navy's flexibility in neutralizing unconventional threats in support of homeland security."

This mine warfare exercise was an integrated training and annual assessment event for SMWDC’s MIW Battle Staff, MCMRON 3, and EODMU 2. The annual drill was a collective defense effort that also included U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet, and the U.S. Coast Guard (sectors Los Angeles and Seattle).

The U.S. Navy plays a vital role in protecting global shipping -- hence why an effectively trained and forward-deployed naval force is America’s single greatest guardian of unimpeded maritime commerce. The two-week MIW FTX demonstrated that the Navy’s mine warfare team is equipped to “fight how it trains”, and is ready to protect U.S. coastal region and ports against any subsurface improvised explosive devices.

“I’m extremely proud of the performance of the MIW force, particularly the manner in which they integrated seamlessly into a cohesive team,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kilby, commander, SMWDC headquarters (HQ). “The Point Loma team did an amazing job; I look forward to us continuing to build on their subject matter expertise and capabilities as we move forward.”

SMWDC’s MIW staff, located in Point Loma (sector of San Diego), is a division of SMWDC (HQ), a new command activated at Naval Base San Diego, June 9, 2015. Supported by U.S. Naval Surface Forces Pacific, the one-star command is responsible for increasing the tactical proficiency of the surface and mine warfare communities through the creation of warfare doctrine, underway assessment exercises and Warfare Tactics Instructors. Surface Warfare Magazine

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