Navy explosive ordnance disposal units and divers concluded the seventh iteration of Exercise Snow Crab at Camp Ripley in Little Falls, Minnesota, this month.
The exercise, which involved sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, aimed to hone Navy EOD and diver capabilities in a simulated Arctic environment to test and evaluate tactics, equipment and operations.
The first week of training focused on cold weather survival training and controlled ice diving training, according to Cdmr. Garrett Pankow, commanding officer of Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 2.
“The weather this year was a little mild, so it challenged us to use both cold weather mobility skills with vehicles, as well as potential snowmobiles and other snow, Arctic-related mobility capabilities.” Pankow, who oversaw the exercise, told Navy Times.
The second week of training focused on merging those cold weather skills into simulated problems sailors would encounter in such austere environments, Pankow said.
“Being in a new environment, and the realistic use of live unexploded ordnance here, built on our previous training and is critical to building confidence and competence for our platoons,” Explosive Ordnance Disposal Senior Chief Calvin Quinn, lead chief petty officer of EODMU 12, said in a Navy news release. “Every place is different; every piece of ordnance is different. This exercise gave us real-life training on what we simulate all the time.”
The Navy also teamed up with the Minnesota National Guard, who provided air support, and Air Force EOD Technicians from the 148th Fighter Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, who provided demolition training and operations.
Navy leaders have cited a need for a strong military presence in the Arctic as global warming opens more waters in the freezing-cold territory to navigation. As a result, the service has launched exercises like Snow Crab to allow sailors to become more adept at operating in the Arctic.
In January 2021, the Navy released its “Blue Arctic” strategy for the region, calling on the sea service to “operate more assertively” there. It also warned that Russia is reopening old bases in the Arctic and “reinvigorating” regional exercises – a trend that’s expected to continue.
That report also warns that China will bolster its naval activity “on, below and above Arctic waters.”
Exercise Snow Crab kicked off on Jan 24 and concluded on Feb. 4.