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MCM Sailors Prepare for Improved Future of Minehunting

By Jacqui Barker, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division | May 19, 2016

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Eighteen mine countermeasure Sailors completed a two-week AN/AQS-24B sonar upgrade operator and maintenance training hosted by Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) May 13.

During the training, 10 fleet operators assigned to HM-14 and HM-15, helicopter mine squadrons based in Norfolk, Virginia, learned how to operate the upgraded AN/AQS-24B sonar in the Gulf of Mexico. This was the first airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) crew to receive this training.

Eight maintenance squadron personnel also attended Intermediate Maintenance training for the newly upgraded mine hunting sonar system.

The upgraded AN/AQS-24B sonar offers the U.S. Navy advanced capabilities and performance to hunt for mines on the sea floor and in the water column, and the AN/AQS-24B system allows Sailors to detect, classify and localize modern-day mine threats through enhanced mine hunting sonar.

AMCM subject matters experts from NSWC PCD trained both the operators and maintainers on what to expect from the upgraded sonar.

"The upgrades were made to existing fleet hardware through an engineering change proposal. Many of the differences in the system are upgrades to supportability and maintainability," said AN/AQS-24B instructor Ken Condron. "This will translate into much less down time for the system and the Sailors."

The initial operator training was offered in preparation for delivery of the AN/AN/AQS-24B sonar to the fleet, which is expected in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year. Once the system is delivered, the Sailors will receive refresher operator and maintenance training before putting the system to use.

NSWC PCD is one of the major research, development, test and evaluation laboratories of the U.S. Navy and boasts a wide base of expertise in engineering and scientific disciplines. NSWC PCD is also the Technical Center of Excellence for Littoral Warfare and Coastal Defense.