Tuesday, November 10, 2009

MINEX Brings Four Nations Together to Address WWII Mines

The U.S. Navy has joined French, Australian and New Zealand military personnel in a French-led humanitarian effort to remove World War II era sea mines from New Caledonian waters in the South Pacific.

Lagoon Mine Exercise (MINEX), which runs through the third week of November, includes the support of approximately 300 military personnel from the four participating nations, and several Australian, New Zealand, and French Navy mine hunting, survey, and amphibious ships.

The U.S. Navy has provided a team of divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 with four bottlenose dolphins trained to hunt mines.

Their combined efforts will focus on de-mining in the New Caledonia Lagoon.

During World War II, New Caledonia became an important outpost. Over the course of the war, more than 40,000 U.S. troops were stationed on the island. Based on the possibility of enemy attack, the U.S. requested assistance from Australia to do defensive mining around the island.

In 1944, the U.S. conducted mechanical sweeping clearance operations. Swept mines either surfaced and were destroyed or sunk. All remaining mines are now assessed to be neutralized or are on the bottom.

MINEX will focus on recovering or making the remaining mines safe.

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