The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) has mapped 35 underwater mines and 3 aircraft bombs in the seabed of Norway’s Oslofjord as part of NATO’s latest historic ordnance disposal operations.
Historic ordnance disposal operation ran between Feb. 24 and 4 March. The operation identified 170 underwater objects in total, after which these were examined more closely by underwater remote controlled vehicles or divers.
“Sea mines are legal weapons, and we know that many navies have large amounts of them in stock. So it is highly likely that these will be used in crisis or war. They will hamper our way of living, stopping all logistics coming with merchant shipping. It will also hamper a nation’s ability to receive Allied reinforcements, if needed. No merchant or military unit except for the mine countermeasure vessels will enter an area with a mine threat,” said Commander of SNMCMG1 Henning Knudsen-Hauge.
Around 1,800 mines remain in the Oslofjord from World War II, endangering fishing and shipping in the area if they are not mapped and identified.
The operations were conducted with support from the Royal Norwegian Mine Warfare Datacentre, who embarked aboard the German flagship FGS Donau during the operations. During the recent years the RNoN Mine Warfare Datacentre have studied historical publications and logbooks, and have traced the actual amounts of mines used, and the precise position where they were dropped in the Oslofjord.
SNMCMG1 is one of four standing forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations additional forces can be added to these groups, with the NATO command staff onboard and the ships of the group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.
SNMCMG1 is currently comprised of five assets: HNoMS OTRA (Norway), HNLMS Willemstad (Netherlands), BNS Bellis (Belgium), HMS Grimsby (Great Britain) and flagship FGS Donau (Germany).