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Navy mine countermeasures exercise finishes with a bang

Defence personnel from Australia, the United States and New Zealand take part in a live underwater demolition exercise at Bindoon Military Training Area in Western Australia as part of Exercise Dugong (Source: Dept of Defence/Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez)

The Royal Australian Navy’s premier international mine countermeasure exercise, Exercise Dugong, has wrapped up at Fleet Base West in Western Australia.

The Royal Australian Navy’s premier international mine countermeasure exercise, Exercise Dugong, has wrapped up at Fleet Base West in Western Australia.

Exercise Dugong included representatives from a range of international navies including the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, plays a major role in enhancing interoperability between participating nations in all facets of maritime mine warfare.

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The exercise provided a unique opportunity for members of Australia’s Navy to work closely with international partners to develop skills in areas such as water space management and mine countermeasures.

Commanding Officer of Clearance Diving Team Four, Lieutenant Commander Ryan Post, said Exercise Dugong was a very successful exercise with all participating nations benefiting greatly from it.

"Dugong provides very shallow water mine countermeasure training, using both autonomous vehicles and clearance divers from participating nations. By bringing in our coalition partners we can work on our integration and improve how we operate together in the area of very shallow water mine countermeasures," LCDR Post said.

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Royal Canadian Navy Diving Officer Lieutenant Slava Khabiam said participating nations welcomed the chance to exchange various operational techniques with their coalition partners.

"Canada has been participating in Dugong for the past few years and the exercise is very beneficial for our team as it allows us to develop our ability to integrate into an international environment," Lt(N) Khabiam said.

Exercise Dugong also provides an opportunity for the US forces to practice mine countermeasure techniques in a unique environment.

Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One (EODMU1), Platoon 142 will also join the exercise, using unmanned systems (UMS) to practice detecting mines and mine-like objects without putting personnel at risk in a suspected minefield. 

Chief Staff Officer to Commander Task Force 75, Commander Brandon Casperson, said at the launch of the exercise, "Through Exercise Dugong '19, our explosive ordnance disposal teams will work side-by-side with their counterparts in the Royal Australian Navy to conduct a full mission profile of unmanned systems and mine countermeasures, to detect, classify and neutralise potential threats."

By participating in Dugong, they can test their equipment and procedures in an area where salinity, water temperature and ocean floor contours differ from the environments that they are used to.

First conducted in 1988, this was the 18th iteration of the exercise. Specifically, Exercise Dugong '19 is a field training exercise encompassing very shallow water mine countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal, counter improvised explosive device, underwater damage repair and expeditionary reconnaissance and clearance activities.

Navy mine countermeasures exercise finishes with a bang
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