Review of Operation Historical Ordnance Disposal by the NATO Mine Warfare Group (SNMCMG1) in the English Channel-North Sea
From 20 October to 7 November 2017 , an international mine warfare operation, organized as part of the Historical Ordnance Disposal (HOD) mission, was scheduled in the Channel-North Sea.
Assured by NATO warships belonging to the Standing Nato Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG 1) and placed under the command of the Latvian commander, Gvido Laudups, commander of the force from the minesweeper LVNS Virsaitis (Latvia), the group , representing 4 different nations. It consisted of FGS mine hunters Sulzbach Rosenberg (Germany), HNOMS Rauma (Norway), BNS Primula (Belgium) and HNLMS Makkus(Netherlands). Integrated with the NATO Response Force, the group has ensured the Alliance with a permanent mine warfare capability in all types of operations. In the balance sheet, 4 historical explosive devices were neutralized at 11 nautical miles (21 km) off the department of Calvados (14), representing 3 tons TNT equivalent. On Wednesday, November 1st, 2017, a first demining operation took place off Courseulles-sur-Mer (14) following the discovery by the Belgian minesweeper BNS Primula of a 125kg US equivalent TNT bomb . The next day, Thursday 2 November, the SNB Primula once again carried out the destruction of an explosive device discovered the previous day off Courseulles-sur-Mer. It was a Luft Marine Bomb (LMB) representing 975 kg TNT equivalent.
On Monday, November 6, 2017, a second LMB was destroyed by the BNS Primula off Courseulles-sur-Mer, representing 975 kg TNT.
A final counter-mining operation at sea took place on Wednesday 8 November off Ouistreham (14) following the discovery the day before of a new LMB by the HNLMS Makkum mine hunter . The bomb accounted for 975 kg of TNT equivalent.
Since 1996, allied operations called “HOD” are conducted each year in the Channel – North Sea in order to eliminate ammunition of a historical nature. The seabed of this maritime area is indeed characterized by the significant presence of explosive devices from the last two world conflicts (bombs, concrete shells, underground mines). It is therefore a maritime safety issue to carry out the research and the neutralization of these hazards, and the “HOD” operation is directly involved in the major cleanup of the seabed in the English Channel – North Sea .