SQUADEX is a quarterly exercise that provides an opportunity for U.K. and U.S. assets to further develop and test their minehunting capabilities.
Participating naval vessels included U.S. Navy mine countermeasures ships USS Gladiator and USS Sentry, U.K. landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay and U.K Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunters HMS Bangor and HMS Penzance.
First intent is to maximize the opportunity provided by the SQUADEX to demonstrate capability in mine detection and classification, focusing on lessons learned from previous exercises in operator skill and equipment capability, whilst developing coalition interoperability in a environment.
As part of the exercise, participating MCM vessels set mine shapes in areas to test the efficiency of U.S. and U.K. assets in mine detection, utilizing five difference sonars from surface platforms, divers and aircraft. This allowed participating ships to establish a more accurate timeline and data on how long it takes to clear an area of mines.
The exercise design and execution allows to identify the contribution that the operator, environment and equipment have on MCM operational capabilities.
U.S. and U.K. sailors conducted minehunting in challenging environmental conditions including high sea temperatures and variable depths. With continued advances in technology in MCM operations, ships were able to use remote operated vehicles (ROVs), unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and explosive ordnance disposal divers to assist in clearing areas.
The U.S. and U.K. will continue to conduct joint training exercises to assess lessons learned from MCM operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
The development of mine countermeasures techniques and technology is vital to the continued free flow of commerce. The cooperation demonstrated by U.S. and U.K. forces during SQUADEX attests to the shared interests.