Ronald Reagan Strike Group Sailors Receive Mine Warfare Training During COMPTUEX

Story Number: NNS080406-03Release Date: 4/6/2008 11:38:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph L. Painter, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group received special training on mine warfare March 31 - April 4 aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), courtesy of Mobile Mine Assembly Unit (MOMAU) 1, based out of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif.

As part of Ronald Reagan's Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) taking place off the coast of California, MOMAU-1 provided training to strike group personnel while preparing 14 MK-63 mines to be used in an upcoming mine laying qualification evolution for pilots assigned to Carrier Air Wing 14.

"We do this kind of thing for carriers in their COMPTUEX workup cycles," said Chief Mineman (SW) David Epton, who led the MOMAU-1 team. "We basically come out to the ship to train personnel on proper assembly of these mines before they deploy."

Epton said that a "laying mine" is an exercise and training configuration used by aircraft to practice mine planting techniques. The laying mines used in this exercise were for naval aviators to practice mine operations in order to develop the degree of proficiency necessary to plant a minefield. According to Epton, laying mines are the same as service mines minus the explosives, which are replaced with cement to maintain weight consistency.

"Safety and proficiency are the two biggest concerns for this evolution," said Mineman 2nd Class (SW/SCW) Jeremy Merry, the MOMAU-1 team leader for the exercise.

Merry said that once the mines are assembled they are then loaded onto F/A-18's, where the pilots will drop the mines in designated areas of the sea.

"These kinds of mines are activated through magnetism. When a ship passes above the mine while it sits on the bottom of the ocean floor, it detonates based on the magnetism the passing ship gives off," said Merry.

"They can also be programmed to detonate at certain intervals for passing ships, making it possible to allow two ships to pass over without detonating and then detonating on the third ship to pass over," he added.

According to Mineman 2nd Class Chris Robinson, laying mines are reusable so marine mammal recovery gear is used to ensure retrieval. "We actually use sea lions to retrieve these mines," he said.

According to Cmdr. Tom Karney, Ronald Reagan's "Gun Boss," the training provided by MOMAU-1 is important so that Sailors aboard Ronald Reagan have the proper skills to build the mines.

"If it was building mines for an actual evolution, a real world operation, we could build those mines with the personnel we have on board," said Karney. "The reason these guys are out here is because they are kind of the exercise team."

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