Dec. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Navy personnel concluded the second of a three-part training session with the Croatian Navy on underwater mine clearance, the U.S. Navy announced this week.
The three-week session in December at the Lora Naval Base in Split, Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea, involved U.S. sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eight, who facilitated Department of Defense Humanitarian Mine Action EOD Level 2 training of the Croatian Navy's underwater EOD team.
It came after the U.S. government donated $280,000 in mine countermeasure and explosive ordnance disposal equipment to the Croatian Navy.
The funds were provided by the U.S. European Command Humanitarian Mine Action Program, to "fortify our defense partnership," a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Croatia said on Dec. 16.
"These kinds of focused training not only enhance the capabilities of our maritime forces but also strengthen our bond and effectiveness as NATO allies," the statement added. "This action is just one of the many examples of partnership between United States European Command, United States Navy, the Embassy, Croatian Government, and the Army."
The session included classroom and hands-on training for Croatian Army technicians, some of whom had not previously been instructed in English, a U.S. Navy statement said on Tuesday.
"The Adriatic Sea has many dumping zones of ordnance from World War I and World War II, both contact mines and ammunition from airplanes dropped into the sea," said Croatian Navy Capt. Ivan Milinkovic, commander of the Croatian Mine Clear Diving Platoon.
"Only four of us have finished EOD training in the United States. Being able to have this training here in Croatia, with the U.S. team, gives us more of the experience we need. It also helps us practice our English and get familiar with ordnance in two languages," said Milinkovic.
Upcoming training will bring the Croatian sailors to Level 3 certification, an indication of mastery of specialized training for mine disposal.
"Training evolutions like these between partnered countries help build trust," said Lt. Jack Smith, commander of EOD Platoon 3-1."The HMA training is a DoD [U.S. Department of Defense] and [U.S. Navy] Sixth Fleet priority, where we will be establishing a future standard of excellence for all of Europe."
Croatia, formerly a part of Yugoslavia, declared independence in 1991 and became a NATO partner nation in 2009.