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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Navy Divers Complete Large Scale Exercise 2023

by Lt. Brittany Stephens
05 September 2023 VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Navy Divers from EOD Mobile Unit 6 (EODMU 6), Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 (MDSU 2), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 operated with the United States Navy and Marine Corps across the East Coast and the Atlantic Ocean during Large Scale Exercise 2023 (LSE 2023), August 9-18.

LSE 2023 is an exercise that demonstrates the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across six maritime component commands, seven numbered fleets, and 22 time zones. It merges real-world operations with virtually constructed scenarios to create a realistic training environment.

Throughout the exercise, EODMU 6 acted as a headquarters and controlled multiple teams from a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) located on Joint Expeditionary Little Creek in Virginia Beach, VA.

“The Navy EOD and Salvage Force provide unique capabilities that enable both the Fleet and Joint Force to dictate the timing and tempo of operations,” said Cmdr. Ryan Schippert, commanding officer, EODMU 6. “We successfully conducted navy expeditionary operations that directly enabled Naval power projection across multiple warfighting domains throughout the duration of LSE 2023.”

EODMU 6 was responsible for live, virtual, and constructive forces that executed operations that rearmed, resupplied, and repaired naval forces to stay in the fight.

“We focused on integrating quickly under the simulated demands of global and synchronized maritime operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kristen Fekete, future operations officer at Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 (EODGRU 2) and an exercise planner for LSE 2023. “Then, EOD and Diver teams could leverage their skillsets provide the Navy and Marine Corps access to (typically) denied areas within the maritime domain.”

The ExMCM company from EODMU 12 comprised of a command and control element, an unmanned systems platoon and an explosive ordnance disposal mine countermeasures platoon embarked the Whidbey Island-Class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44) to provide expeditionary mine countermeasures clearance in the Atlantic Ocean. The team located and identified simulated mine threats. Simulated mine threats were neutralized using controlled underwater detonations.

“Expeditionary mine countermeasures (ExMCM) companies are adaptable units, specific to Navy EOD that counter mine threats,” said Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Kyle Haushalter, leading chief petty officer and member of the ExMCM company. “But we have to be ready for anything, or that Fleet asset won’t have access to the space we need. This was a great chance to continue to sharpen our skills as a team and stay flexible.”

The MDS company from MDSU 2 completed expeditionary battle damage assessment and repair (ExBDAR) against simulated ship damage aboard the Arleigh Burke-Class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78). The team conducted initial entry and assessment via a fast rope insertion and integrated with the ship's damage control team to locate and assess simulated damage while establishing communication with the headquarters element ashore.

“Our intent is to assist a stricken vessel sea by conducting a rapid assessment and providing battle damage response, surface and subsurface,” said Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Luberto. “Expeditionary salvage and husbandry capabilities provided by Navy Divers integrating with the Fleet can enable a ship to get back into the fight swiftly.”

An EOD platoon from EODMU 6 enabled airfield damage repair airfield damage repair efforts onboard Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. The platoon surveyed the airfield, identifying explosive hazards, clearing the area of simulated ordnance to enable the airfield to get back to usable condition.

This is the second iteration of LSE, which built on lessons learned from LSE 2021 and warfighting concepts refined through Fleet Battle Problems. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps will incorporate lessons learned from LSE 2023 into the planning of its next large scale exercise iteration which will take place in 2025.

Navy EOD and Diver forces employed during LSE 2023 are subordinate commands of EODGRU 2. EODGRU 2 operates as a critical part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force (NECF), and EODGRU 2 provides skilled, capable, and combat-ready deployable Navy EOD and Navy Diver forces around the globe to support a range of operations.