ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures (EXMCM) Company 1, assigned to Commander Task Group (CTG) 56.1, partnered with British Forces in the Arabian Gulf to complete a mine countermeasures squadron exercise (Squadex), Jan. 23-25.
Squadex is a mine countermeasures exercise designed to assess the abilities of the U.S. Navy's explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units and reaffirm their proficiency with the latest equipment.
"Squadex is important for a number of reasons," said Lt. Andy Houck, commander of EXMCM Company 1. "Mainly, it integrates our forces in this theater, and we get to define our bilateral partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom."
Partnered with British forces, CTG 56.1's EXMCM completed a series of day and night missions over a 36-hour time period, performing back-to-back operations.
"The most challenging part of this exercise is usually the number of contacts we practice with," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class Matthew Krom, assigned to CTG 56.1. "Our command keeps the operational tempo pretty high, so we'll get anything from five to eight different contacts that we need to acquire before our time is up."
During time-set missions, the technicians utilize various tools and techniques including the remote operated vehicles (ROV), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), and EOD divers to hunt for underwater training mines.
"As EOD, we have a background of needing to adjust and being creative in our tasking, and I think that makes us well suited for the EXMCM mission," said Houck.
Receiving information of a possible mine, EXMCM companies are dispatched to the contact point where they launch their ROV. Controlled from an EOD vessel, the ROV provides sonar and visual imagery, finding the exact location of a mine. The ROV acts as a position holder as an EOD diver follows a tether and locates the mine.
"EXMCM Company 1 has had an incredible deployment, and it's finalized by this Squadex," said Houck. "We perform to whatever the situation may dictate, from route clearance with mine hunters to wide-area search, to rapidly locate whatever may be lost. Our company has teamwork nailed down."
CTG 56.1 conducts mine countermeasure, explosive ordnance disposal, salvage diving, and force protection operations throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
For more news from Expeditionary Combat Camera, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/ecc/.