Being called the world’s largest naval exercise, this year’s International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) has just kicked off in the Persian Gulf. Participants include more than 6,500 personnel representing 44 nations from around the globe.
Led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the exercise consists of several phases, commencing with onshore training and communications. Participants will work together to plan operations and then execute at-sea mine countermeasure operations, maritime infrastructure protection and maritime security operations.
Commodore Keith Blount, Royal Navy, Combined Maritime Forces Deputy Command and IMCMEX lead details that “this IMCMEX will continue its focus on mine countermeasures, however, it has been broadened to include opportunities for ships’ crews around the world to conduct maritime security operations such as escorting and defending commercial shipping, as well as carrying out the drills required to protect maritime infrastructure, such as harbors and oil rig.”
The US Navy’s Afloat Forward Staging Base – Interim, the USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15), and British Royal Fleet Auxiliary amphibious assault vessel Cardigan Bay (L3009) will provide at-sea support. The Ponce recently had the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) installed as an at-sea test platform – no word if they’ll be testing it during the exercise.
This event is an important opportunity for allies and partners to improve skills, trade lessons learned, and build relationships. The exercise runs from 27 October through 13 November.