During a recent mine warfare exercise by Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1), the flotilla identified 170 curious underwater objects along the seabed of Norway’s Oslofjord.

After they were examined more closely by underwater remote-controlled vehicles (ROVs) or mine clearance divers, it turned out that 35 were underwater mines and three more were aircraft bombs, in other words, 38 pieces of live ordnance, most dating back to WWII when the fjord was the subject of the sharp fight in April 1940 during the German invasion and a longer RAF campaign in the resulting Axis occupation.

Of note, the flag of SNMCMG1 is the German Navy’s Type 404/Elbe-class supply tender Donau (A516) coupled with the minesweepers HNoMS OTRA (Norway), HNLMS Willemstad (Netherlands), BNS Bellis (Belgium), and HMS Grimsby (Great Britain).

From the left: HNLMS Willemstad, BNS Bellis, FGS Donau, HMS Grimsby, HNoMS Otra linked together for a photo during Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) historic ordnance disposal operations in Oslofjord, Norway on March 1, 2020. Photo by: PO Marius Vagenes Villanger

The group is sure to remain busy in the coming years. It is estimated around 1,800 mines remain in the Oslofjord from the war.

“The NATO group regularly conducts Historical Ordnance Disposal operations or ‘HOD Ops’ in coordination with Allied Navies as a way to sharpen the skills of the group on real mines and other ordnance as well as provide a service to nations by identifying and neutralizing (as needed) naval mines from previous conflicts.”

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