By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Abraham Essenmacher, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs
CHINHAE, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- The U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) navies conducted a successful mine countermeasures exercise March 30 - April 11 as part of Foal Eagle 2015.
The bilateral training is designed to increase readiness and interoperability in mine countermeasures operations and enhance theater security cooperation between the two navies.
"Bilateral training in mine countermeasures is critical for our strategic ROK-U.S. alliance," said Capt. Mike Dowling, commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 (MCMRON 7). "It also enhances our combined capabilities and interoperability with the ROK Navy. These live force exercises continue to support our commitment to maintaining maritime stability in this region."
Approximately 300 U.S. Navy personnel assigned to MCMRON 7, mine countermeasures ships USS Warrior (MCM 10) and USS Chief (MCM 14); along with teams from Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1, Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, and Mobile Mine Assembly Group participated in the training alongside their ROK Navy partners.
"We took 'warfighting first' to heart and took advantage of every opportunity to maintain and improve our mine warfare capabilities," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tyree, executive officer of Chief.
During the exercise, U.S. and ROK Navy ships and explosive ordnance disposal divers practiced clearing routes for shipping and conducted training surveys for clearing operational areas. In addition to ships, remotely operated vehicles were also used to rehearse mine countermeasures operations from under the sea.
"Operating in waters near the Korean peninsula provided us the most realistic training we could hope for in preparing for contingency operations," said Tyree. "The geography and bathymetry can't be replicated anywhere else and it's good for our sonar operators, Mine Neutralization Vehicle (MNV) pilots, and Mine Warfare (MIW) evaluators to experience it firsthand."
Foal Eagle is an umbrella of regularly-scheduled, annual exercises that are the culmination of many months of planning and are based on realistic training scenarios. The naval portion of the Foal Eagle exercises take place in international waters around South Korea and features a full spectrum of maritime operations.
MCMRON 7, commanded by Capt. Mike Dowling, is a combined readiness and tactical staff responsible for mine countermeasures in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. The squadron consists of four Avenger-class minesweepers forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and a helicopter mine countermeasures detachment in Pohang, ROK.