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NEWS | Oct. 9, 2017

Naval mine shop provides unique mission to JB Charleston

By Senior Airman Christian Sullivan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

 Editor’s note: Senior Airman Thomas T. Charlton contributed to this article.

The Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit Charleston, on Joint Base Charleston – Weapons Station, is responsible for assembling the mines required for Air Force and Navy missions.

“The Charleston unit is the largest intermediate maintenance activity for mines in the world. Our area of responsibility covers more than half the globe,” said Michael Mills, NMCLANT UC mine operations manager. “Our first mission is to store, maintain and assemble, as needed, pre-positioned war reserve stock service mines. Secondly, we provide exercise and training mines to support the Navy, Air Force and allied forces.”

Sailors in the mine shop are trained to mobilize and support overseas and stateside munitions operations.

“All active duty and reserve enlisted sailors are organized and trained to deploy as mobile detachments to support mining operations,” said Mills. “These teams deploy overseas and within the continental United States to aircraft carriers and Air Force bomber bases.”

Members from NMCLANT UC are responsible for maintaining munition assets around the world. Due to the dangers associated with handling mines, each munition must be assembled with caution.

“In this shop, we do most of the maintenance for assets related to mine warfare,” said Mineman Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Evans, NMCLANT UC lead petty officer for production. “When working with explosives there’s a lot that can go wrong so we take every precaution possible to ensure everyone and everything is safe.”

NMCLANT UC also acts as a training center for reserve detachments while being ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

“Three reserve mine detachments are permanently assigned to NMCLANT Unit Charleston and assist when needed,” said Mills. “Other reserve detachments attached to overseas mine shops perform routine training and certification at Charleston.”

One of the Charleston unit’s priorities is constructing quick-strike and versatile exercise mines. Mineman Petty Officer 2nd Class Jake La Grange, NMCLANT UC LPO for Versatile Exercise Mine Systems, said these mines help train United States and allied military forces.

“VEMS are smart exercise mines that when placed in water, will transmit a signal back to our ships and will test how effective and versatile our ships are when navigating through a minefield,” said LaGrange. “The mines are placed in the water with the assistance of Air Force bomber aircraft from airdrop.”

 NMCLANT UC members are trained to be able to quickly and safely get their assets to all designated locations. Getting these mines where they need to go keeps military members vigilant for real-world situations.

“We can build many mines quickly and ship them out the door just as fast,” said LaGrange. “Our job is to help the Navy, Air Force and other allied forces keep the steel edge of their blades sharp.”