UCT 1 Participates in Humanitarian Mine Assistance Mission in Croatia

By EA1 Zac Cunningham, UCT 1

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EA1 Zac Cunningham (left), UCT 1, protects the survey computer from rain during survey operations. Chief Petty Officer Lisnjic and Senior Chief Petty Officer Listes (Croatia) operate the computer while Petty Officer 1st Class Stankovic (Croatia) drives the boat. Photo by Lt. Thomas Hallam, executive officer

The U.S. government believes that there are an estimated 40-50 million landmines and other explosive remnants of war around the world. In an effort to combat this problem, the Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) Program was established to provide nations around the world the capability to detect unexploded ordnance.

Members of Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 combined with members of Explosive Ordnance Division (EOD) Mobile Unit 1 from Sept. 9 – Oct. 20, 2013, in Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia, to teach the techniques of finding and mapping underwater unexploded ordnance to navy divers and special police from the countries of Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia.

U.S. forces taught host nations side-scan sonar, magnetometer, and planning and mapping software to detect and map underwater mines.

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EA2 Garrett Snyder (center), UCT 1, instructs the software setup of the magnetometer during the training phase of the HMA Program mission. Photo by  EA1 Zac Cunningham

Once the mines were located, a team of divers were dispatched to the suspected locations to provide positive identification of the hazards.

Following two weeks of classroom and three weeks of field operations, the three countries successfully mapped over four square miles of sea floor off the coast of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The host nations were very pleased with the new technology and skills.

1048971_lowCM2 Tory Madsen (center), UCT 1, instructs the theory of side-scan sonar to Croatian, Montenegrin, and Slovenian navy personnel. Photo by EA1 Zac Cunningham

Petty Officer 1st Class Stankovic of Croatia said, “This technology is amazing. In the past we did everything with only divers and the searches took too long. It would have taken us years to do everything we did here in three weeks.”

Ultimately, everyone involved learned a lot about the technology, international alliances were strengthened, and three countries now have the capability to detect and map underwater ordnance to make their waters safer for the future.

UCT 1 provides responsive inshore and ocean underwater construction, inspection, repair and maintenance to ocean facilities for Navy, Marine Corps and joint forces engaged in military operations.

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EA2 Garrett Snyder (second from left), UCT 1, instructs Montenegrin sailors during the post-processing phase of the survey operation. Photo by EA1 Zac Cunningham