A quadrilateral military exercise involving expeditionary forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States has concluded and officials are hoping to build on what they said was a successful first-of-its-kind exercise.
According to a U.S. Navy article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia, Command Task Force 75, Hydracrab was a two-week-long exercise, the goal of which is to prepare allied explosive ordnance disposal forces to "operate as an integrated, capable force in the changing and complex maritime Indo-Pacific region."
Part of the exercise was to train on safe handling and removal of underwater mines.
Environmental stewardship also played a role in the planning and execution of the exercise, military leaders said. The planners took protective measures to safeguard marine resources. Part of that safeguard was ceasing all training activity if marine mammals or other significant marine life was seen in the area.
“The biggest example of environmental stewardship is how we have to site the beaches for sea turtle nesting,” said Lt. Dalton King, EOD Mobile Unit 5 lead Hydracrab planner. “Anytime we used any of the beaches on the island, we had environmental come and inspect for sea turtle nesting before and after the evolution.”
“During the inaugural EOD Hydracrab exercise, our teams took on an incredible compilation of highly realistic unit-level drills, and several tactics exchanges,” said Cmdr. Andrew Cook, EOD Mobile Unit 5 commanding officer. “The quality of the exercise was thanks to the diligent work by the unit planners, who began shaping this event over a year ago. We are looking forward to building on this success."
Hydracrab 2019 ran from Aug. 19-Aug. 31.
Lt. Michael Hutchesson, the Australian Clearance Diving Team One operations officer, said he believed that being able to observe operators from each of the other allied nations as they moved through the training evolutions was one of the keys to the successful execution of the Hydracrab 2019.
“My favorite part of the exercise was engaging with all the partner nations' EOD technicians and learning how they operate,” said Hutchesson. “Building that capacity to work together and learning how everyone else operates is extremely important to us. EOD Mobile Unit 5 has done a great job leading this exercise. They made it very easy for us to get around and get the most out of the exercise.”
Throughout the exercise, allied military forces integrated and practiced a wide range of expeditionary competencies to include visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), land and sea insertion techniques, joint demolition operations, small arms proficiency, counter-improvised explosive device (CIED) operations, and anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP) diving operations.
EOD Mobile Unit 5 is assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Forces Command Pacific, the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
The U.S. 7th Fleet operates roughly 50 to 70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 sailors.