From 23 August to 10 September 2021, the Netherlands will host the multinational maritime mine action exercise Sandy Coast 21. Some fifteen naval vessels and 600 soldiers will be active in that period in the Dutch coastal waters north of the Wadden Islands, between Ameland and Borkum.
In the last week of the exercise, the Eemshaven will be the training location for a port protection exercise with diving units and explosives cleaners.
The aim of Sandy Coast 21 is to strengthen the readiness, knowledge and expertise in the field of “Naval Mine Counter Measures”. The training area in the North Sea offers a challenging training environment for the participating mine action units thanks to its shallow water, strong currents, dynamic seabed, changing weather conditions and busy shipping routes.
The exercise is also intended to practise control from sea and from a headquarters on land. An operational headquarters will be manned in the Eemshaven during the entire exercise.
Besides naval vessels and their detection equipment, shallow water diving teams and port protection teams, including personnel from the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service (DEODS), will be deployed. They will come into action during the last week of the exercise, the so-called “Harbour Protection Week” in Eemshaven. There will be intensive cooperation with local and regional safety authorities.
Ships to keep their distance
During the exercise, shipping is requested to keep 1000 metres distance from mine-hunting vessels. Fishing vessels in, or in the vicinity of, the exercise area can contact the Dutch Coastguard on VHF channel 16 in case a (practice) mine is found. In case a real mine has to be defused, the surrounding shipping will be warned by VHF (channel 16). In that case, a safety distance of 1 mile must be respected.