Task Force 52 Completes UK/US Mine Countermeasures Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin J. Steinberg | December 12, 2018

The U.S. Navy and Royal Navy completed U.K./U.S. Mine Countermeasures Exercise (MCMEX) 19-1, a quarterly bilateral exercise in the central Arabian Gulf, Dec. 8.

Naval Forces from the U.S. and U.K. execute a series of mine countermeasure (MCM) exercises in the Arabian Gulf throughout the year that demonstrate their shared commitment of ensuring unfettered operations of naval and support vessels, as well as commercial shipping movements, throughout the maritime domain.

“The relevancy of having mine countermeasures cannot be understated,” said Cmdr. Wade Hilderbrand, U.S. Navy, commander, Task Group 52.3. “MCMEX is continuing to provide a great opportunity for realistic training with the goal of conducting integrated multinational mine countermeasures in the 5th Fleet.”

Participating in the exercise were Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships USS Sentry (MCM 3) and USS Devastator (MCM 6); expeditionary mobile base platform ship USS Lewis B. Puller; Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures company; Helicopter Mine Countermeasures squadron 15 (HM-15) Detachment 2; Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship landing ship dock RFA Cardigan Bay (L3009); Royal Navy mine hunter HMS Ledbury (M30); Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunter HMS Blyth (M111) and Fleet Diving Unit Three from the U.K.

“Joint training opportunities further enhance our collective effectiveness, thus helping to ensure unfettered operations of naval, support vessel and shipping movements throughout the Gulf region,” said Cmdr. Steve White, U.K. Royal Navy, commanding officer of Cardigan Bay. “These exercises have been conducted on a regular basis for many years, so there is a great deal of corporate knowledge across the various participating elements.”

The exercise consisted of mine countermeasures training and a variety of supporting at-sea events. A key portion of the exercise involved the integration of surface and airborne MCM assets.

The exercise promoted the sharing of knowledge and experiences between nations to improve tactical proficiencies and strengthen partnerships.

“This exercise was a great way to reengage with our allies and train as a team,” said Lt. Riley Harsh, U.S. Navy, from CTF 52.3. “Working with the United Kingdom gave us all a chance to sharpen our skills and learn from one another to become a stronger, unified force.”

Mine laying poses a risk to U.S. Navy ships, coalition and allied naval ships as well as merchant shipping vessels. As mines threaten maritime traffic indiscriminately, the U.S. and U.K. are committed to taking all action necessary to reduce the risk of mines to support the continuous free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation throughout the region, including honing mine exploitation methods by conducting tactical training like MCMEX.

Task Force 52 plans and executes mine warfare operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet operational objectives. Such operations are critical to maintaining sea lines of communication, deterring and countering adversaries and strengthening regional partner maritime capabilities to promote a secure maritime environment for all.

U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, Http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.