November 19, 2019 – Remembrance Day was honoured at Fleet Base West with a ceremony that was attended by the Five Eyes nation participants in the recently commenced Exercise DUGONG 19.
Exercise DUGONG 19 brings mine warfare and dive teams from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America together for two weeks to practice contemporary mine warfare and dive salvage techniques and procedures in the vicinity of Western Australia’s Fleet Base West at Garden Island.
Specifically, Exercise DUGONG 19 is a field training exercise encompassing very shallow water mine countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal, counter improvised explosive device, underwater damage repair and expeditionary reconnaissance and clearance activities.
The United States Navy is represented by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five (EODMU5), Platoon 502, which brings highly skilled technicians who can render safe all types of ordinance, in addition to the ability to safely dispose of hazardous munitions, pyrotechnics, and retrograde explosives using detonation and burning techniques.
Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Jonathan Ross said he was looking forward to the exercise.
“Having all of our closest allies come together and show one another our diving capabilities, as well as new technologies that everyone is incorporating will be fascinating.
“Practicing Mine Countermeasure Operations in a different part of the world, furthering our cold-water training, and exercising under logistical constraints pushes our limits and shows us how better to plan in the future,” he said.
Also representing the United States Navy is Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One, who will also take part, conducting harbor clearance operations in the vicinity of Garden Island to enhance interoperability and diving capabilities as a part of the exercise.
“Through Exercise DUGONG 19, our explosive ordnance disposal teams will work side-by-side with their counterparts in the Royal Australian Navy to conduct a Full Mission Profile of Unmanned Systems and Mine Countermeasures, to detect, classify, and neutralise potential threats,” the Chief Staff Officer to Commander Task Force 75, Commander Brandon Casperson, said.
“Exercises like Exercise DUGONG 19 are an important part of building confidence with our foreign partners and increasing our interoperability proficiency within the Mine Countermeasures platforms.
“It also provides us an opportunity to exchange best practices with equipment, tactics, techniques, and procedures in Mine Countermeasures,” he said.
The Remembrance Day ceremony was preceded by the opening ceremony for the exercise, which saw all participants come together as the Royal Australian Navy’s Commodore Flotillas, Commodore Ivan Ingham, briefed them on the purpose of the training activity.
Exercise DUGONG 19 Director, Captain Peter Bartlett, commented on the significance of beginning the exercise on Remembrance Day.
“It’s fitting that the Five Eyes nations that are present today for the start of Exercise DUGONG are the same five nations that stood side by side at the end of the Great War in November 1918.
“For us Australians to stand together with those from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA to commemorate Remembrance Day is a reminder of the sacrifices that we have all made in the pursuit of freedom and peace,” Commodore Ingham said.