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Ships Depart for Underway Portion of IMCMEX

By U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs | April 11, 2016

MANAMA, Bahrain -- Coalition ships sailed to begin the underway portion of the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise, April 10.

U.S. and Royal Navy ships sailed into the Arabian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz to practice working together to address threats such as piracy, terrorism, and mines.

IMCMEX is a wholly defensive exercise and will accommodate a full spectrum of security and support capabilities in order to keep sea lanes open and protect the free flow of commerce.

"This will not be the first time my crew has been challenged, and we are ready for this exercise," said Lt. Cmdr. Maryla Ingham, RN, commanding officer of HMS Middleton, a British mine countermeasures vessel. "I am thoroughly looking forward to working with our international partners and getting out to find mines."

Previous IMCMEX exercises operated together in a series of at-sea maneuvers where international air, sea and undersea forces responded to simulated sea-mine attacks in international waters and cleared maritime routes to restore freedom of navigation.

This year's exercise will involve scenarios in mine countermeasures, maritime security operations, infrastructure protection, mass casualties, search and rescue, and visit, board, search and seizure.

Today USS Ponce, HMS Middleton, several other mine countermeasures vessels, and embarked air, MCM and MSO detachments departed for operations in the Arabian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz.

IMCMEX began April 4 with a symposium in Bahrain on Maritime Infrastructure Protection bringing together governments, militaries and industry to discuss how to best provide the necessary foundation of security that supports unrestricted access to the vital maritime infrastructure that is critical to regional and global economies.

The exercise will continue through April 26.