USS NIMITZ, At Sea -- Members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11 participated in a mine pouncing training exercise in the Indian Ocean May 26. "Back in the day, they would jump out of a helo near a mine and attach an explosive to it," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician 2nd Class Ruben Villegas. "They would then get picked up and go on to the next one, then the next one. That's where the term mine pouncing came from." Currently assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and equipped with the knowledge to detonate mines safely, EODMU 11 has been training to clear the way for Nimitz and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 during deployment.
"It's not as common anymore," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class David Medwedeff, another member of EODMU 11. "We're doing this in case it happens again." "It has happened where we're going," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Ruben Villegas, one of EODMU 11's team members. "They're not all conventional mines."
These EOD technicians held a demolition buildup earlier in the week for Rear Adm. Michael White, Commander, CSG 11, and members of his staff in preparation for the mine pounce exercise. "The admiral and some of his staff came to increase their awareness of this capability so we can keep practicing," said Lt. j.g. Thomas Rollow, the EOD Platoon 11-0-1 officer in charge. "We've practiced on land, but this is the first time we've done this on a floating platform."
During the demolition buildup, members from mobile unit 11 constructed charges used to demolish mines.
"If this were real and there was a contact mine, they would need us to get rid of it," said Villegas.
Starting with time trains, a type of fuse, EOD technicians calculated the lengths needed to create a charge that would be used to safely detonate a training mine.
"It's extremely crucial," said Rollow. "All it takes is one mistake." With the word of a (training) mine spotted ahead, two MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 took off from Nimitz' flight deck carrying members of EODMU 11. Upon arriving on the mine and given the okay by the demolition operation supervisor, two EOD divers jumped out of the first helicopter into the ocean; one with the charge, one with the time fuse. The divers attached the charge to the mine together. For safety reasons, once it was set, one diver swam for the helicopter where he was picked up at a safe distance. The remaining diver then set the charge and followed the first. "We want it to be 15 minutes," said Villegas. The operation is marked as a success with a thunderous explosion on the horizon. All personnel are safe, and the way is clear for the strike group to move forward, thanks to the members of EODMU 11. "The admiral was thoroughly impressed and happy at his new found capability in the strike group brought by our team," said Rollow. "It gave us the opportunity to practice a real scenario and get the kinks out so everyone knows their responsibilities to contribute to the overall success of the mission." Nimitz Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.