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Navy mine countermeasures unit uses undersea drones in exercise

Torpedo-shaped MK 18 unmanned underwater vehicles were involved in mine countermeasure certification exercises at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla., this month. Photo courtesy of EODMU2/Facebook
Torpedo-shaped MK 18 unmanned underwater vehicles were involved in mine countermeasure certification exercises at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla., this month. Photo courtesy of EODMU2/Facebook

April 26 (UPI) -- A mine countermeasures unit used unmanned undersea vehicles, or UUVs, in completing a certification exercise, the U.S. Navy said on Monday.

A 27-person platoon of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 completed a pre-deployment Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures Advanced Certification Exercise at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla., on April 16, with the involvement of Unmanned Undersea Vehicles and operators.

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The exercise tested their ability to detect, identify and neutralize simulated mine threats, a Navy statement said.

The platoon deployed MK 18 UUVs, torpedo-like experimental vessels built by the Hydroid division of shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, to locate potential mines.

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At 12.8 feet in length and weighing 621 pounds, the UUVs can descend to a depth of 1,968 feet, using sonar to report the discovery of mines. Data analysis then identifies potential threats.

"The exercise is an integration event in order qualify the company for any future deployments," said Lt. Samuel Stearney.

"The CERTEX used real-world operational scenarios to validate tactics, techniques and procedures so the company is ready operate in any operational environment," said Stearney, ExMCM Company 2-2 commander.

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The Navy's ExMCM program began in 2012. A 2017 statement from the office of the Secretary of the Navy called it a "truly groundbreaking initiative."

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"They've made themselves indispensable in rather short order," said Capt. Dean Muriano, commodore of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One, said in the statement.

"Our sailors are the drivers behind this innovation; they have been remarkable as they've developed tactics, techniques and procedures and integrated technologies into their unit," Muriano said.

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