There is still a significant amount of ordnance left off the coast of France from the two world wars. To this day, the sea mines and other war ordnance pose a threat to shipping routes in French territorial waters.
"Each time we countermine a piece of historic ordnance, it is an opportunity to heal a wound from the past and work toward a better future. Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 and assigned MCM forces are proud to be part of that progress and happy to help our friends and allies ensure freedom of navigation and safety for all mariners in and around French territorial waters," said Commander of SNMCMG1, Captain Sam Brasfield (United States Navy)
Each time we countermine a piece of historic ordnance, it is an opportunity
to heal a wound from the past and work toward a better future.
Together SNMCMG1 spent 480 hours on task time clearing an area of 65 square nautical miles of French waters. Clearance divers from the French, Portuguese, United States and Latvian Navies conducted nine hours and thirty minutes of diving operations identifying mine like contacts. Out of the 54 contacts found, SNMCMG1 identified three pieces of historical ordnances, all were WWII air-delivered bottom mines, with a total TNT explosive equivalent of 2,575 kilograms.
Two pieces of historical ordnance discovered off the coast of Courseulles were discovered and countermined by FS Croix du Sud and one off the coast of Le Treport was discovered by a local fisherman and countermined by explosive ordnance technicians from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8 (EODMU8) deployed onboard USNS Carson City.
SNMCMG1 provided the Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) in Cherbourg, France, with detailed bottom information of the hunted area. This in order to facilitate their ongoing efforts to map the sea bed and ensure the safety of navigation within French territorial waters. All historical ordnance countermining activities were executed in close coordination and consent of the French authorities.
The objective of the operation is to reduce risk posed by sea mines to maritime communities and traffic in French territorial waters, as well as provide enhanced training in mine countermeasures operations to SNMCMG1 participating units.
During the operation, SNMCMG1 consisted of the flagship FGS Elbe (Germany) and mine countermeasures vessels FGS Homburg (Germany), LVNS Talivaldis (Latvia), FS Croix du Sud (France) and USNS Carson City (United States).
After completion of the French historical ordnance disposal operations, SNMCMG1 visited Eemshaven, the Netherlands for rest and replenishments before participating in exercise Sandy Coast 2021.