Navy Ships

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The 188 foot ships are refueling at naval support activity so they can go back into the Gulf and continue searching for mines. They're participating in two exercises over the next couple of weeks.

This training in the Gulf of Mexico will teach the crews how to hunt and destroy mines in the Persian Gulf.

"We're practicing mine hunting and mine sweeping skills, currently we just completed squadron exercises where ships were out looking at the bottom, looking for practice mine shapes and evaluating crews for their proficiency at prosecuting those mines."

"Now this may seem like just another naval exercise, but here for the crew members on these minesweeping ships; this is their final exam."

"All crews are prepared to deploy over to the Gulf and this is the final certification exercise before getting the thumbs up that they're ready to go."

Once certified, three of these crews will probably leave within the next three months to relieve current crews off the coast of Bahrain. Perfect weather and water conditions here in the Panhandle help the sailors get the most out of their time here.

"Our supply department, our fuel department, port operations, public works are second to none throughout the region. Geographically, the Gulf is awesome, it is perfect for what these ships need from the depth of the water, the bottom contour for what their mission is."

And that helps these crews keep the waters around the world safe.

"Our business is to keep the sealines of communications open, and that's not only for us, but for nations around the world, and as you know, one of the cheapest ways to prevent that is through sea mines, so I think it's critical that we have the capability to detect and neutralize that threat and that's what these young men and women out here today are doing."

Some of these crews have been working for two straight months supporting the Katrina and Rita hurricane relief efforts.

They worked with the Coast Guard, surveying port channels around Beumont, Lake Charles and New Orleans. That's quite different t from the seek and destroy missions they'll soon be performing in the Persian Gulf.

The crews completed the mine hunting exercise Thursdy. Next week they'll tackle mine sweeping.