News | Feb. 3, 2022

NAVCENT Hosts Defense Leaders from Bahrain, Israel

By 5th Fleet Public Affairs - NAVCENT

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) hosted defense leaders from Bahrain and Israel, Feb. 3, for discussions on regional maritime security cooperation.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, welcomed Israel Minister of Defense Benjamin Gantz, Bahrain Minister of Defense Affairs Abdulla bin Hasan Al Noaimi and other senior government officials from the United States, Bahrain and Israel for a trilateral meeting at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

“This visit highlights the importance of U.S. 5th Fleet’s decades-long strategic relationship with Bahrain and expanding partnership with Israel following the recent alignment of Israel to U.S. Central Command,” said Cooper. “We are always at our best when we work together with our international partners.”

The visit marked the second time in less than six months that an Israeli government minister visited NAVCENT headquarters with a Bahraini counterpart, signaling strengthened trilateral ties.

“I have now completed an important visit to the 5th Fleet HQ,” said Gantz. “In the past year, thanks in part to the Abraham Accords and to Israel’s move to CENTCOM, cooperation between the Israel Defense Forces and the 5th Fleet has expanded. This strategic cooperation is critical in facing developing challenges in the region. Deepening cooperation will enable us to maintain regional stability and to defend the common interests of Israel, the United States and Bahrain.”

Rear Adm. Mohammed Yousif al-Asam, commander of the Royal Bahrain Naval Force, and Vice Adm. David Saar Salama, commander in chief of the Israeli Navy, were also part of the delegation.

Following the visit to NAVCENT headquarters, Israeli officials toured guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), currently moored in Bahrain.

Crewmembers briefed leaders on Cole’s recent flag verification boarding of a stateless fishing vessel transiting the Gulf of Oman along a known smuggling route. U.S. forces discovered 40 tons of urea fertilizer, a chemical compound with agricultural applications that is also known to be used as an explosive precursor. The U.S. Navy transferred the fertilizer and vessel to Yemen Coast Guard officials Jan. 21.

Cole is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.