Mine hunting

The US Navy and the UK Royal Navy have successfully concluded a week-long mine hunting exercise in the Gulf.

Minehunters HMS Bangor and HMS Chiddingfold, and a specialist diving team along with US vessels participated in tracking and destroying dummy mines.

As a part of the exercise, the diver’s team searched for mines in jetties, ships and harbours.

"This reinforces our relationship with the US Navy, ensuring our ability to work with each other."

The exercise was aimed at honing the navy’s skills to ensure safety at sea.

Director of the exercise commander Jools Howe said: "This reinforces our relationship with the US Navy, ensuring our ability to work with each other and demonstrating the use of new technologies to find and dispose of mines in a quicker and safer way."

Bangor and Chiddingfold were based in Bahrain for six months, while the divers of Fleet Diving Unit 3 reached Portsmouth to take part in the exercise.

Royal Fleet Auxilary ship Cardigan Bay joined the fleet, which was deployed as a command ship for British mine and dive forces in the Middle East, along with the American minesweeper, USS Gladiator.

Chiddingfold constitutes the Royal navy’s second Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCM2) based in Portsmouth. It is equipped with the Seafox mine disposal system, an advanced sonar to track and dispose mines.

HMS Bangor is fitted with a variable depth sonar which is lowered to track mines in deep water.

The participating units used the Seafox submersible in the water to track and terminate the practise mines which were dropped into the sea prior to the exercise.

During the exercise, the USS Gladiator launched torpedo-like unmanned underwater vehicles to scan the seabed.

The US and UK navy concluded a similar mine hunting exercise in December 2015 in the Gulf, where they were tasked to clear the port of mines to allow a safe passage of the civilian carriers.

Image: The Sea-Fox system dropped into the sea. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.