Royal Navy divers train Ukrainians
Dozens of Ukrainian personnel are being trained by the Royal Navy to use hi-tech crewless vehicles to help them hunt mines.
Along with the US Navy, experts from the Diving & Threat Exploitation Group are teaching Ukrainians how to operate the drone-type devices, which search large areas of seabed for mines and unexploded ordnance without putting the operators in harm’s way.
The UK is giving six of the underwater drones to Ukraine and training its personnel here in Britain to use them so they can clear their coastline of mines when they return to their homeland.
The lightweight autonomous vehicle is designed for use in shallow coastal environments, operating effectively at depths of up to 100m to detect, locate and identify mines using an array of sensors, so the Ukrainian Navy can destroy them.
Dozens of Ukrainian Navy personnel will be taught to use the drones over the coming months, with the first tranche having already begun their training. This includes launching and recovering the devices at sea, as well as interpretation of the data sent back to identify mock mines.
The Royal Navy is also training Ukrainian sailors to operate Sandown-class minehunters.
“Through the expert skills being taught here, our Ukrainian allies will be able to clear their own waters of mines,” says First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key.
“These weapons target shipping indiscriminately, but particularly affect civilian traffic and trade and have had a devastating impact on freedom of navigation in the Black Sea.
“This training is another powerful demonstration of the UK’s ongoing commitment to Ukraine in their fight to defend their country and repel Russian aggression.”
Russia has been weaponising food by destroying Ukrainian agriculture and blockading the country’s Black Sea ports to prevent exports, with devastating consequences for the world’s poorest people as food prices rise.
A small number of ships carrying grain have left Ukraine since the UN brokered a deal in July to allow food exports, but efforts to get food out of the country continue to be hampered by sea mines left by Russian forces along Ukraine’s coast.
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