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.
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.
A three-day MIP symposium, prior to the beginning of the at-sea phase of the exercise, provided an exchange of ideas as industry representatives discussed means to ensure the safety of maritime commerce through vital sea lanes and at strategic sea ports with senior leaders from participating countries. MIP included close engagement with industry partners, conducting a table-top oil-spill exercise, and standing up a cell to coordinate military and civilian shipping.
In addition to the symposium, expanded mass casualty drills that simulated maritime accidents extended the infrastructure protection concept to include medical triage and evacuation of injured personnel.
This year’s IMCMEX took place in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, which encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean. Twenty countries comprise this expanse, which includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
Press release, Image: US Navy