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MANAMA, Bahrain — More than 30 countries from six continents are participating in a maritime mine countermeasures exercise that began Monday.

The exercise, organized by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, began with a symposium in Bahrain, home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, on maritime infrastructure protection.

The International Mine Countermeasures Exercise, which runs through April 26, focuses on defensive operations to protect international commerce and trade, 5th Fleet said in a statement. Billed as the largest maritime exercise in the world, the exercise will include scenarios involving mine countermeasures, infrastructure protection and maritime security operations in support of civilian shipping.

New this year are demonstrations of new technologies such as unmanned underwater vehicles and the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Choctaw County, 5th Fleet said.

The training takes place in a region vital for international shipping and navigation, including the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb strait, and the Strait of Hormuz, where nearly 20 percent of the world’s oil transits. @CChurchStripes


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