Fall naval exercise aims to keep international waterways free
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 8, 2014
MANAMA, Bahrain — The U.S. Navy plans to host a large-scale international mine countermeasures exercise in the Middle East this fall, U.S. 5th Fleet officials announced Sunday.
More than 40 nations from six continents are expected to participate in the exercise, scheduled for Oct. 27 to Nov. 13.
Lt. Joe Hontz, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman, said it’s a “defensive exercise that will enhance international naval capability to preserve freedom of navigation in international waterways.”
U.S. 5th Fleet encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water in the Middle East region. The Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea contain three critical choke points for maritime shipping and navigation.
“Closure of any strategic waterway will have worldwide economic and national security consequences. For example, this region’s strategic waterways are a global commons for the free flow of food, consumer goods, raw materials and energy for nations in and outside the region,” Hontz said.
The exercise aims to build upon a similar large-scale exercise conducted last year, which brought together some 6,500 servicemembers, 5th Fleet said in a news release.
As in last year’s exercise, officials plan to test the afloat forward staging base concept aboard the USS Ponce and practice a wide variety of operations on the surface, underwater, and in the air.
Ships from various countries participating in the international mine countermeasures exercise in the Persian Gulf sail in close formation for a photo opportunity, May 21, 2013. U.S 5th Fleet plans to host a similar large-scale exercise in October, aimed at enhancing the capability to preserve freedom of navigation in international waterways.
HENDRICK SIMOES/STARS AND STRIPES