Navy's Largest Exercise Underway in the
Manama, Bahrain – (NNS)
– October 30, 2014 – The International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX),
the world's largest naval exercise, with 44 participating nations from six
continents, began with the Maritime Infrastructure Protection Symposium in
Manama, Bahrain, Oct. 27.
Divers conduct a search dive while participating in IMCMEX
The exercise is organized and led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
(NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet.
IMCMEX is an opportunity for more than 6,500 personnel from navies around the
world to hone the intricate defensive techniques necessary to search for and
dispose of mines, which represent a threat to all nations worldwide.
"I am delighted that we are hosting IMCMEX here in the Gulf," said Commodore
Keith Blount, Royal Navy, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) deputy commander and
IMCMEX lead. "Freedom of navigation on the high seas and in international
straits is critical to keeping the global economy running smoothly. This
exercise offers a unique opportunity for nations from across the world to work
together to prove our capability to keep the sea lanes open for legitimate trade."
The initial stages of IMCMEX will take place ashore, allowing participating
nations to ensure they can communicate with each other, which is a challenge
considering each nation has its own systems. Representatives will then have an
opportunity to talk through and plan operations and maneuvers together. Once the
task group sails, the ships will practice at-sea mine countermeasure operations
as well as maritime infrastructure protection and maritime security operations.
The exercise runs through Nov. 13 and will end with a chance to discuss best
practices and lessons learned for future exercises.
"This IMCMEX will continue in its focus on mine countermeasures," said Blount.
"However, it has been broadened to include opportunities for ships' crews from
around the world to conduct maritime security operations such as escorting and
defending commercial shipping, as well as carrying out the drills required to
protect maritime infrastructure, such as harbors and oil rigs.
"The key for me is that this exercise demonstrates that the international
community is capable and ready to work together in the spirit of cooperation and
partnership," he added.
As an international task group cannot always rely on support from the shore,
the International Mine Exercise Force will test the afloat staging base concept.
Support will be provided afloat from the U.S. Navy's Afloat Forward Staging Base
(Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) and British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA)
amphibious assault vessel Cardigan Bay (L3009). Operations will include diving
operations, small-boat exercises, unmanned underwater vehicle operations, port
clearance tactics and will be coordinated with industry and commercial shipping.
NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area
including the Arabian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and parts of the
Indian Ocean and 20 countries.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet,