SIGONELLA, Sicily — Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit Eight (EODMU8) conducted theater security cooperation (TSC) training using side scan sonar equipment with the Ukrainian Navy at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella Sept. 21-25.
The training highlights the importance of TSC in the Black Sea area of responsibility and increases maritime awareness, according to Chief Sonar Technician Surface Manuel Ybarra, EODMU8 Area Search Platoon leading chief petty officer.
"The ability to interact with members of the Ukrainian Navy and their officers has been rewarding. They brought with them extensive knowledge of the Black Sea, but they have limited operational use of the equipment," said Ybarra. "The training we are giving them increases interoperability between the U.S. and Ukrainian Navies and is a highlight of what EODMU8 and the United States Navy does."
The training consisted of hands-on training in the Mediterranean using side scan sonar machines equivalent to equipment recently acquired by the Ukrainian Navy. The training also included computerized training to provide the skills necessary for proper data analysis.
"This training is very important to us because we are learning about these extremely important devices and how to use the information we gain from them," said Capt. Igor Teroihin, senior mine warfare officer for the Ukrainian Navy. "We will not only learn how to detect navigational hazards, but in order for the Ukraine to work with the United States and NATO, we must be able to effectively exchange information. What we are learning allows us to work together and it puts the Ukrainian Navy on the same level. This aids in the possibility of future joint exercises, which would be severely hindered had the U.S. Navy not provided this training."
EODMU8's mission is to eliminate hazards from unexploded ordnance that jeopardize operations and to perform specialized EOD services in support of the national military strategy. This is achieved by providing specially trained, combat ready, highly mobile EOD forces, including an area search capability using towed side-scan sonar and unmanned underwater vehicles to locate submerged objects.