NATO assets clear historic sea-mines along French Coast

Photo Courtesy: NATO MARCOM

One of NATO`’s four standing multinational maritime groups, Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG 1) has recently conducted a Historical Ordnance Disposal (HOD) Operations along the north coast of France, NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) has announced on 8th April. In total they have disposed eight historical sea mines from the seabed.

The HOD Operation ran between March 23 and April 5 in the area of Le Tréport. In total six ships from six different nations were involved in the operation, searching an area of 20,3 square nautical miles and disposed of eight historical ordnances. The operation identified 94 underwater objects in total, after which these were examined more closely by underwater remotely controlled vehicles or divers.

“By working closely together also in times of crisis, SNMCMG1 continues to conduct our operations. By removing historical ordnances from the seabed we keep the sea lines of communication safe for modern seafarers,” said Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One, Commander S.G. Henning Knudsen-Hauge.

By disposing the sea mines and other historical ordnances, the group made the sea a safer place for fishermen, merchant shipping, underwater operations and oil and gas installations. Although the mines are no longer active, they still pose a threat if they are exposed to an anchor, underwater installations, divers or other operations on the seabed. By removing the explosives, they also removed the threat.

The recently cleared area will in the future facilitate a wind farm outside Le Tréport, France.

SNMCMG1 is one of four standing forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations additional forces can be added to these groups, with the NATO command staff on board and the ships of the group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.

SNMCMG1 was comprised of six assets during the operation: BNS Bellis (Belgium), FS Andromède (France), HNLMS Willemstad (Netherlands), HNoMS Otra (Norway), HMS Grimsby (Great Britain) and flagship FGS Donau (Germany).

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SNMCMG-1 Assets

In 2019 NATO Mine Countermeasures operations cleared from mines and other historic ordnances a total of 220 square nautical miles of Allied territory.