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Sep 15 2020

Sandy Coast 2020 international mine action exercise concludes

ZEEBRUGGE, Belgium - From 1-10 September, 2020 SNMCMG1 including flagship LNS Jotvingis, minehunters HNLMS Schiedam, BNS Crocus, LVNS Imanta, FGS Groemitz, HNoMS Maaloy and ENS Admiral Cowan with a NATO partner Finnish vessel Vahterpaa took part in the international mine countermeasures exercise Sandy Coast 20. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, exercise was planned by the Admiralty Benelux (ABNL), controlled and executed by the Belgian Navy.

All necessary precaution measures were taken during ships staying at harbour and during coordination meetings that were conducted.

Sandy Coast 20 created a unique opportunity for training NATO mine countermeasures operations in one of the most difficult environmental conditions off the Belgian and Dutch coast.

“Threats to our security have not gone away while we are focusing on the pandemic, therefore it is critical that NATO forces continue to enhance cohesion, while enabling interoperability throughout the whole of NATO,” said Vice Admiral Keith Blount, Royal Navy, Commander of NATO's Allied Maritime Command.

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) units presented the capability needed to counter mines and underwater improvised explosive ordnance (UW IED) that could be used to deny the free use of maritime sea transport lines of communication, port approaches and traffic choke points that provide unrestricted access to all nations.

“Despite difficult environmental conditions taking into account constantly changing strong current, mine burial and poor underwater visibility, units have proven their skills and techniques are to be trusted when it comes to our main task - to find and countermine sea mines. Procedures and communication systems put me in a proper control of units under my command and assured strong line of communication with CTG”, said the Lithuanian Commander Audrius Venckunas, Commander of SNMCMG1.

The exercise has provided an opportunity to train units in order to maintain combat readiness of SNMCMG1 so that they can respond adequately to a wide range of real-world operation situations if such arise.

Story by Public Affairs Office at MARCOM

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