October 6, 2020 (Google Translation) – As part of its participation in the NATO exercise Dynamic Mariner 2020, the La Fayette (FLF) -type frigate Surcouf embarks for several days a detachment of the group of Mediterranean clearing divers (GPD MED) belonging to the Navy. national and mine warfare specialists from the Belgian Navy.
Uncommon on an FLF whose main mission is not mine warfare, the presence of this allied detachment provides it with a capacity to fight against the mine threat in shallow water, thanks to its underwater drones and its divers. deminers.
Combined with the stealth of the FLF which allows it to deploy discreetly close to the coast, this capability is a relevant lever to act in addition to the action of mine hunters, when faced with a threat in a coastal environment. It also allows the force directed from the PHA Mistral to have a flexible element that can be moved quickly and can be used when appropriate.
French and Belgian soldiers were thus deployed at night to recognize landing sites that will be used by the amphibious forces. Thanks to their underwater drones, they were able to precisely map the underwater obstacles before eliminating them by the action of the divers, thus making it possible to open a practicable “assault channel” for the skippers of the helicopter carriers.
At the same time, this detachment permanently maintains a rapid reaction capability (QRF – Quick Response Force) against conventional explosive device (EOD – Explosive Ordnance Disposal) or improvised (IED – Improvised Explosive Device), projectable at very low notice from the Surcouf .
This alert was thus activated in a few minutes during a transit exercise by an amphibious force in a mined area under asymmetric threat in the bay of Hyères. He had to neutralize an artisanal surface drone filled with explosives called WBIED (Water Borne Improvised Explosive Device), a concrete illustration of a type of threat that is very real today in theaters of operations.
This expertise of the GPD was also requested within the framework of a visit operation on a building suspected of being used as a minelayer: part of the Surcouf inspection team, the clearance divers were able to intervene on explosive devices on board. the suspect building M-IED (Maritime Improvised Explosive Device), thus ensuring the safety and success of the visit operation.
Original, this cooperation between a frigate and an allied detachment of mine warfare specialists in support of an amphibious maneuver illustrates the resolutely multi-domain dimension of modern air-maritime operations, which requires a combination of the efforts of each maritime component; doing Dynamic Mariner 20 is an international exercise at all levels.