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BALTOPS 2012 Team finds Historical Ordinance, Clears Sea Lanes

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The combined mine warfare counter syndicate operating during a training exercise in the Baltic Sea discovered historical ordnance off the western coast of Poland, June 8.

The Danish mine counter measures unit, MCM Denmark, embarked on board Danish mine counter measures command ship, HDMS Thetis (F357), discovered an unexploded aerial bomb on the sea bed of the Baltic while surveying for decoy mines placed for training in support of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2012.

"Finding real, live historic ordnance usually happens in the Baltic Sea. The reason for that is the Baltic Sea was the battlefield for two world wars which used heavy mining techniques," said German Navy Cmdr. Torsten Wedig, mine warfare action officer and liaison officer to the Combined Forces Maritime Component Commander, Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 embarked onboard guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60).

In addition to mines, torpedoes, depth charges, and unexploded aerial bombs populate the bottom of the Baltic due to their heavy use in the 1940s.

"Researchers say there are about 110,000 mines left at the bottom of the sea," said Wedig.

The aerial bomb was located by using mine hunting sonar technology which detected the ordnance. A subject matter expert then classified it as a potential mine and a drone was deployed to confirm and gather additional information about the contact. It was then detonated.

Seven countries comprise the mine warfare contingent participating in BALTOPS 2012. Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Norway and Poland are contributing nine mine hunters, four mine sweepers and four support vessels to the integrated training. The United States is contributing mine warfare experts such as Mineman 1st Class (SW) Sean Silman.

"It is exciting to find live ordnance," said Silman. "Every time we find a mine or bomb and neutralize it, we make the seas that much safer for merchants, travelers and military partners."

BALTOPS 2012, an invitational joint and combined exercise designed to enhance multinational maritime capabilities and interoperability, and improve involvement in the larger Baltic region theater security cooperation strategy. Twelve countries are participating in the exercise which continues until June 16.

Article by Lt. Cmdr. Candice Tresch, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 Public Affairs