Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Helo Squadron Flies in Bilateral Exercise, Increases Interoperability

By Lt. Kim Gentner, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 Public Affairs

YEOSU, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14, Detachment 1, participated in bilateral mine countermeasure training exercises with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy in exercise Foal Eagle, March 13–20, in the area around Yeosu, Korea.

Throughout the exercise, HM-14's two MH-53E helicopters coordinated with ROK and U.S. minesweepers to clear channels through notional mine fields in the waters around Yeosu.

"The opportunity to participate in Foal Eagle has proven to be a special event we look forward to every year," said Det. 1 Officer in Charge Lt. Cmdr. Tony Monell. "We commence training for the exercise months in advance, attempting to hone the readiness of our flight crews."

During the exercise HM-14 coordinated with ROK Navy ships ONG-GIN, KANG-JIN, KO-RYUNG and USS Patriot (MCM 7) in various scenarios. The ROK Navy also provided search and rescue capability to HM-14 in the remote waters of Yeosu, often shadowing their every move.

The exercise also provided valuable data to planners in relation to bottom type, water salinity, clarity and temperature to provide battle space profile information that previously went unrecorded. This type of data project assists in shaping commander's decisions when integrating the capabilities of both countries in future engagements.

"Not only does it improve South Korean and U.S. combat readiness, it targets joint-combined interoperability to improve battle space awareness and communications between both nations," said Monell. "It's been a great experience for our detachment, and we look forward to building on an already solid foundation with the ROK."

HM-14 is currently forward deployed to Pohang, Republic of Korea, and serves under Task Force 76 led by Rear Adm. Richard Landolt and headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.