The U.S. Navy and Royal Navy completed a U.K./U.S. Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) in the central Arabian Gulf, Dec. 7.
This quarterly event doubled as the certification for the staff of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52 by Surface Mine Warfighting Development Center.
“We look forward to conducting this exercise every quarter. It unquestionably helps us build and grow with our coalition partner by improving tactical proficiencies and sharing knowledge,” said Capt. Michael Egan, commander of CTF 52.
The exercise involved a broad range of training and a variety of supporting at-sea events. MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 and the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM 11) conducted mine hunting operations alongside Royal Navy ships HMS Bangor, HMS Blyth, HMS Ledbury and HMS Middleton.
Participating units’ mission was to locate exercise mines. Also deployed for the exercise were a mine hunting unit and an unmanned systems platoon. These various components worked together to ensure all legs of the MCM triad, consisting of airborne, surface and underwater mine countermeasures, were achieved.
CTF 52 plans and executes mine warfare operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet operational objectives. Such operations are critical to maintaining sea lines of communication, deterring and countering adversaries and strengthening regional partner maritime capabilities to promote a secure maritime environment.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Bab el-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.