By By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
| September 20, 2018
ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 16, 2018) A MK-60 Griffin surface-to-surface missile is launched from coastal patrol ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12). Ships attached to U.S. 5th Fleet's Task Force 55 are conducting missile and naval gun exercises against high speed maneuvering targets to advance their ability to defend minesweepers and other coastal patrol ships. U.S. 5th Fleet and coalition assets are participating in numerous exercises as part of the greater Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise to ensure maritime stability and security in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (Photo by MC2 Kevin Steinberg)
ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 11, 2018) Engineman 1st Class Marcus Boley mans a .50-caliber machine gun aboard a Mark VI patrol boat assigned to Task Force 56 during Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) 18-3. MCMEX is the premier quarterly mine countermeasures exercise in the Middle East, and is conducted with the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy to increase interoperability and demonstrate the shared commitment to ensuring unfettered maritime operations. U.S. 5th Fleet and coalition assets are participating in numerous simultaneous exercises as part of the greater Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise to ensure maritime stability and security in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (Photo by MC2 Samantha P. Montenegro)
180916-N-AF263-0402 GULF OF ADEN (Sept. 16, 2018) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Landon Jamison launches an F-35B Lightning II attached to the Avengers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 from the flight deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) during a scheduled deployment of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The Essex ARG/13th MEU is the first U.S. Navy/Marine Corps team to deploy tot eh U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations with the transformational warfighting capabilities of the F-35B Lightning II, making it a more lethal, flexible and persistent force, leading to a more stable region for our partner nations. (Photo by MCSN SABYN MARRS)
U.S. Navy and coalition assets completed the U.S. 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise, Sept. 20.
The multi-faceted exercise was conducted to ensure maritime stability and security in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.
“Cooperative security ensures cooperative prosperity, and these collective exercises conducted with our partners and allies allow us to practice the full spectrum of naval operations,” said Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet. “This demonstration of naval maneuver, posture and partnership reassures the international community that we will ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, anywhere, anytime.”
U.S. 5th Fleet assets lead Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal (TACR) 18, Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) 18-3 and a MK-60 Griffin surface-to-surface missile and naval gun exercise. U.S. 5th Fleet assets also participated in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) led exercise Bright Star 18 in Egypt.
Taking place in Djibouti, TACR enhanced readiness for littoral and mine countermeasures capabilities inherent to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team to preserve freedom of movement through the critical choke point of the Bab al Mandeb. Approximately 4,500 U.S. Marines and Sailors participated in the integrated amphibious training, which included simulated air defense training, mine countermeasure training, quick-reaction force drills, deck landing qualifications, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel rehearsals as well as visit, board, search and seizure exercises (VBSS).
MCMEX 18-3, an exercise conducted between the U.S. and United Kingdom quarterly, enhanced cooperation, mutual mine countermeasure capabilities and interoperability, demonstrating the shared commitment of ensuring unfettered operations of naval, support and commercial vessels throughout the maritime domain. The exercise allowed the two nations to incorporate all aspects of the MCM ‘triad’, using airborne, surface and underwater assets.
Five coastal patrol ships forward-deployed to Bahrain conducted surface warfare training in the Arabian Gulf to enhance their ability to defend minesweepers and other coastal patrol ships by executing a MK-60 Griffin missile exercise and gunnery exercise led by U.S. 5th Fleet’s Task Force (TF) 55.
“This fleet firing event was a great opportunity for TF 55 patrol craft to maintain proficiency and increase lethality against small boats,” said Capt. Adan Cruz, TF 55 commodore. “The hard work, attention to detail and effective coordination between civilian agencies and military units paid great dividends and has been a tremendous success.”
The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FASTCENT), a Task Force 55 VBSS team and a Task Force 56 expeditionary mine countermeasures company participated in Bright Star 18, centralized around joint regional security and cooperation in conventional and irregular warfare scenarios near the critical choke point of the Suez Canal.
U.S. 5th Fleet also welcomed the arrival of the F-35B to theater, as part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group. The F-35B combines next-generation fighter characteristics of radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed, fighter agility and advanced logistical support with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in the U.S. inventory, providing the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) significantly improved capability to approach missions from a position of strength.
The successful completion of these combined exercises illustrate that the U.S. and our partners stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.