BU1 Justin Lewis and ND2 Kent Knudson of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit give direction to members of the Montenegrin Navy as part of a recent Humanitarian Mine Action Underwater Explosive Remnants of War Clearance Program collaboration. (Photo by Lt. Jennifer Jewell)
MONTENEGRO - U.S. Navy Divers from the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU) in Panama City, Florida recently traveled to Montenegro to provide two weeks of capacity building training to Montenegrin Navy Divers, EOD Technicians, Seals, and Medics.
This collaboration was instrumental in enhancing the security cooperation between the United States and Montenegro. As DoD Underwater HMA Program Manager Bill Grau remarked, “The U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Mine Action Underwater Explosive Remnants of War Clearance Program is an important part of the U.S. Government’s overall security cooperation strategy. Not only does it improve the safety of the Montenegrin people and visitors, it allows for increased engagement opportunities to expand an enduring partnership between our two countries. This program enhances the operational readiness skills of U.S. Navy and Montenegrin divers, and it helps develop the Montenegrin Navy Underwater Mine Counter Measures (UMCM) program.”
The event was funded by the USEUCOM Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) Program, while the U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC) led the project management and mission planning efforts. Since 2012, the DoD HMA Program has provided training and equipment to the Montenegrin Navy to build the capabilities of Montenegrin Navy Divers, EOD Technicians, and SEALs to safely locate and remove underwater ordnance from past wars to ensure Montenegrin waterways are safe.
The training topics focused on diving safety, diving supervisory and mission planning, the diagnosis, treatment, and evacuation of diving emergencies, and advanced diving medicine. In addition, U.S. Navy and Montenegrin Divers shared techniques and procedures to improve NATO interoperability for both nations.
On the last day of training, a comprehensive drill was conducted to test all the participants’ knowledge and skills gained. Montenegrin side scan sonar experts surveyed sea lanes to find training ordnance planted on the sea bottom, and transferred the GPS coordinates to the divers. The divers used the GPS coordinates to locate the planted practice ordnance and made decisions on safe recovery and final disposal.
In addition, divers conducted a simulated diving casualty drill. Montenegrin Navy Medics were required to properly diagnose and treat a life-threating diving injury.
All participants did an outstanding job throughout the entire event. “I’ve conducted many diving exercises with partner nations in the past 16 years,” said US Navy Master Diver Ryan Langley. “I am very impressed with the professionalism and skill levels of Montenegrin Navy Medics, Divers, SEALs, and EOD technicians.”
During the past seven underwater HMA capacity building events, the U.S. Department of Defense HMA Program has provided over $1 million dollars in equipment donations. Additionally, HDTC U/W HMA subject matter expert, U.S. Navy Divers, and US Navy EOD Technicians have provided extensive training and technical assistance.
The US Navy and Montenegrin participants developed a close professional and personal bond. As the leader of the NEDU training team, US Navy Commander Bradley Hickey, remarked during the closing ceremony: “We came as military colleagues and we are leaving as friends.”