Hydracrab participants pause for a photo together as the exercise came to a close. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Kelsey L. Adams)

SANTA RITA, Guam - Expeditionary forces from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States completed exercise Hydracrab 2019, Aug. 31.

Hydracrab was a first-of-its-kind quadrilateral exercise with key partner nations, which began Aug. 19 and spanned two weeks. The exercise aimed to prepare allied explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) forces to operate as an integrated, capable force in the changing and complex maritime Indo-Pacific region.

“During the inaugural EOD Hydracrab exercise, our teams took on an incredible compilation of highly-realistic unit level drills, and several tactics exchanges,” said Cmdr. Andrew Cook, EOD Mobile Unit 5 commanding officer. “The quality of the exercise was thanks to the diligent work by the unit planners, who began shaping this event over a year ago. We are looking forward to building on this success."

Environmental stewardship also played a role in the planning and execution of the exercise, by employing many protective measures to safeguard marine resources. Additionally, during the planning stage of the exercise, it was put in place that all training activity would cease if marine mammals or other significant marine life was seen in the area.

“The biggest example of environmental stewardship is how we have to site the beaches for sea turtle nesting,” said Lt. Dalton King, EOD Mobile Unit 5 lead Hydracrab planner. “Anytime we used any of the beaches on the island, we had environmental come and inspect for sea turtle nesting before and after the evolution.”

According to Lt. Michael Hutchesson, the Australian Clearance Diving Team One operations officer, he believed that being able to observe operators from each of the other allied nations as they moved through different training evolutions was one of the keys to the successful execution of the Hydracrab 2019.

“My favorite part of the exercise was engaging with all the partner nations EOD technicians and learning how they operate,” said Lt. Michael Hutchesson, the Australian Clearance Diving Team One operations officer. “Building that capacity to work together and learning how everyone else operates is extremely important to us. EOD Mobile Unit 5 has done a great job leading this exercise. They made it very easy for us to get around and get the most out of the exercise.”

Throughout the exercise, allied military forces integrated and practiced a wide range of expeditionary competencies to include visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), land and sea insertion techniques, joint demolition operations, small arms proficiency, counter improvised explosive device (CIED) operations, and anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP) diving operations.

EOD Mobile Unit 5 is assigned to Navy Expeditionary Forces Command Pacific, the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

U.S. 7th Fleet provides security alongside allies and partners throughout a free and open Indo- Pacific. As the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet operates roughly 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors.

U.S. Marines and Royal Canadian Navy clearance divers board USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312) during a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) subject matter expert knowledge exchange as part of exercise Hydracrab, Aug. 26. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jasen Moreno-Garcia)

Royal Australian Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians prepare to fast-rope down from a tower during training as part of exercise Hydracrab, Aug. 19. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Billy Ho)

Clearance divers assigned to the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic take up defensive positions after fast-roping from a U.S. Navy MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during exercise Hydracrab, Aug. 19. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Billy Ho)