MANAMA, Bahrain --
The Middle East region’s largest maritime exercise, International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 2023, concluded during a final briefing and ceremony in Muscat, Oman, March 16.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) led the 18-day naval training event, which it combined with exercise Cutlass Express led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. More than 7,000 personnel from more than 50 nations and international organizations participated.
“I liked this gathering because it was international. Together we stand, divided we fall,” said Yemen Coast Guard Cmdr. Faozi Sultan. “This exercise is of great importance for all the countries that participated because it was a chance to exchange experiences and learn from each other.”
The exercise focused on combined command and control, maritime security, mine countermeasures, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence integration, and global health management.
Participating international forces and organizations were divided into five operational task forces than spanned across the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and East African coastal regions.
“I’ve learned a lot in the decision-making process, especially through multiple training situations that happened at the same time. It made me think outside the box,” said Egyptian Navy Cmdr. Mohamed Gharbyia.
U.S. Navy expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) embarked 45 personnel from seven nations while operating in the Arabian Gulf. Participants conducted professional exchanges facilitated by U.S. Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel on vessel boarding procedures, evidence collection, safety and medical care.
IMX 2023 also employed more than 30 unmanned and artificial intelligence systems that partners operated on both sides of the Arabian Peninsula.
In the Gulf of Aqaba, participants simulated a ship-to-shore patient transfer using a MARTAC T-38 Devil Ray unmanned surface vessel (USV). The surface drone successfully moved a mannequin from a crewed vessel to land, marking the first time a USV was used in a medical evacuation training scenario.
Additionally, U.S. and international partners deployed for the first time in the Middle East a long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle called a K1000ULE. The aerial drone can fly for more than 26 hours, and is useful for further enhancing development of a resilient communications network for unmanned systems.
“This exercise was a good platform to have regional navies under one roof. We have different tactics and procedures, but we had one cause during the exercise of coordination, cooperation and interoperability,” said Pakistan Navy Lt. Cmdr. Najaf Rizvi.
This was the eighth iteration of IMX since its establishment in 2012.
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Brad Cooper from NAVCENT served as exercise commander, while officers from the United Arab Emirates, France, Pakistan and Egypt served deputy commander, vice commander, chief of staff and maritime operations center director, respectively. IMX’s five operational task forces were commanded by leaders from Bahrain, Jordan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
For imagery, photos and information on IMX, visit the feature page at https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/IMX23.