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Dutch, French and German navies hold mine countermeasures drill during Sandy Coast 2020

On August 24 2020, the harbour protection exercise started at three different locations in the inner port of Ostend. This exercise is the first part of a diptych of Exercise SANDY COAST 2020, an international mine action exercise in Belgian waters.


On August 24 2020, the harbour protection exercise started at three different locations in the inner port of Ostend. This exercise is the first part of a diptych of Exercise SANDY COAST 2020, an international mine action exercise in Belgian waters.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Launch of harbour protection exercise in Ostend. (Picture source: Belgian Navy)


During the exercise, the Dutch, French and German "Very Shallow Water" (VSW) and "explosive ordnance disposal" (EOD) teams train in the procedures that are actually applied when they have to search for explosive devices. It goes without saying that fake explosive devices will be used during the exercise. The two teams explore the bottom and the walls of the quay in search of explosive material (improvised explosive device and mines). They locate explosive devices using unmanned systems (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles abbreviated AUV) such as the Alister-9 and the Remus 100.

After analyzing the images from these AUVs, objects presumed to be explosive devices are identified with the help of divers. If the contact turns out to be an explosive (even if it is a real explosive), it will be rendered harmless. During the exercise, attention is also paid to suspicious objects in the vicinity of the exercise areas, which will then also be neutralized according to a planned procedure. During this exercise in the inner port of Ostend, the teams will keep the staff, which coordinates everything, informed of developments.

SACO 20 as a Binational exercise will primarily focus on MCM tactics, techniques and procedures, including experimental tactics (EXTACS) and VSW/EOD techniques and procedures. The 2020 edition will equally focus on harbour protection (HP) and shore-based VSW MCM.


Dutch French and German Navies hold mine countermeasures drill during Sandy Coast 2020 925 002Launch of harbour protection exercise in Ostend. (Picture source: Belgian Navy)