US, UK Complete Mine Countermeasure Exercise

Story Number: NNS130716-09Release Date: 7/16/2013 7:57:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Wray

ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- Sailors from the U.S. Navy and the Royal Navy completed a surface exercise (SURFEX) June 30.

The SURFEX demonstrated the coalition's mine countermeasure capabilities and gave the two countries a chance to practice their interoperability.

"It was a joint U.S. and U.K. exercise to validate how to defend a mine sweeping force in a mine environment," said Cmdr. Nicole Shue, commanding officer of guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76).

The task force, lead by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary amphibious landing dock vessel RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) and Higgins, cleared a simulated mine field while defending against an opposing force, simulated by U.S. Coast Guard cutter ships.

"I thought it was an incredible training opportunity that demonstrated U.S. and U.K. interoperability against opposition forces," said Cmdr. Neil Marriott, the surface mine countermeasure commander embarked on Higgins during the exercise.

Two U.S. F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters and one Royal Navy Lynx HMA MK 8 helicopter were used during the exercise, testing both surface and air capabilities.

Shue and Marriott agreed communication was a big part of the exercise.

"The exercise ended up a great success," said Shue. "Communication between the command and defense ship was great. Despite the geographical separation of the ships, the command ship (Cardigan Bay) was able to effectively meet their mission tasking."

Higgins is deployed with Nimitz Strike Group to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility promoting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.

For more news from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), visit

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