A Navy TALON robot examines a simulated vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in front of the Alaska State Capitol on March 10, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

A Navy TALON robot examines a simulated vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in front of the Alaska State Capitol on March 10, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Teamwork makes the dream work: Navy, JPD hold bomb drill outside capitol building

It’s good to know what to do before a crisis happens.

Law enforcement agencies in Juneau took advantage of the presence of Navy explosives ordnance disposal specialists in town to hold a drill outside the Alaska State Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

Members of EOD Mobile Unit 1 assessed and handled a simulated vehicle-borne improvised explosive device secreted in a fuel truck using a robot and personnel.

“Anytime we can work with other agencies it can help build teamwork and understanding on how each other work together,” said Lt. Krag Campbell. “It also helps building relationships within the groups and can speed up the request for assistance when needed.”

[Freedom of the seas: Royal Canadian Navy practices minesweeping outside Juneau]

JPD officers simulated clearing nearby buildings and blocking off the street with police vehicles so Navy EOD technicians could assess and neutralize the simulated threat.

“We’re up here as part of Arctic Edge 2022,” said Cmdr. Mike Dalrymple, commanding officer of EODMU1. “What we’re doing right now is another component of what we do — IED response.”

The Navy EOD team has been practicing mine countermeasures in the Gastineau Channel — find, fix, finish, Dalrymple said. But there are more explosives under the sky than those designed to sink ships, and Navy EOD teams are expected to be able to deal with all of them.

“Part of what this is is the a certification event for a team to be certified to deploy,” Dalrymple said.

A Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician approaches a simulated vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in front of the Alaska State Capitol on March 10, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

A Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician approaches a simulated vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in front of the Alaska State Capitol on March 10, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The simulated IED was tucked between the cab and tank of a fuel truck. The team first deployed a tracked TALON robot to investigate the suspected IED, before an EOD technician put on the armored bomb suit and went in for a look. The model of robot the team is using has been in use for about 15 years, Dalrymple said, though the electronics are always being upgraded.

“Although JPD EOD may be one of the first EOD teams to respond to assess a situation, depending on the scope of the threat, other agencies could be contacted to assist or take over,” Campbell said. “Having worked together in the past allows EOD teams to make those requests quicker, or have a direct point of contact to speak with about a specific situation.”

The familiarity could save critical time as JPD responds to a potential threat, Campbell said.

“They would be the point agency and they would coordinate it from there, depending on the size and stuff, if they need more help,” Vinson said. “It kind of depends on where (the possible explosive is) at and what it is.”

Campbell and Ramye Vinson, chief of security for Legislative Security both said they couldn’t recall when the last credible bomb threat to Juneau was. There are no current threats that Campbell was aware of, he said, but the presence of the state Capitol here could increase the risk.

“It’s always good to figure out how to deal with the new threats,” Dalrymple said. “There’s always the potential for the unusual and devious.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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