This year's International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) concluded in Bahrain Nov. 13, after nearly three weeks of seminars and training maneuvers.
The exercise provided a wide array of maritime operations designed to promote international interoperability, protect global commerce and ensure secure sea lanes.
More than 6,500 military service members from more than 40 nations, along with 700 civilian mariners, operated 38 naval ships, 32 civilian merchant vessels and three exercise task forces throughout the Arabian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea.
"This year's exercise has been a great success," said Vice Adm. John W. Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/5th Fleet (C5F)/Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). "Not only did we have more nations participate and greater involvement from the commercial shipping industry, but we also greatly improved on the complexity of our scenarios, command and control of our vessels, interoperability, the quality of our presentations and discussions, and our multilateral interactions in general."
Mine countermeasures (MCM) operations included ships, crews and observers underway to conduct training in at-sea maneuvers, mine hunting operations, aerial MCM operations, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations and unmanned underwater vehicles. The exercise continued to confirm the effectiveness of the afloat staging base concept, employing the British amphibious assault vessels HMS Bulwark (L15) and RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009) and the Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15), as a platform for mine countermeasures.
"While the mine countermeasure part of this exercise was key, [the exercise] delivered far more," said Commodore Keith Blount, Royal Navy, deputy commander Combined Maritime Forces and Commander of this year's International Maritime Exercise Force. "Broader maritime security operations (MSO) and maritime infrastructure protection (MIP) were equally as important components and enhanced our proficiency in proving our ability to deliver port-of-departure to port-of-arrival security. It has been a large success."