MANAMA, Bahrain (March 29, 2011) — Commander, Task Force 52 ships participated in a mine countermeasures exercise with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group(SNMCMG) 2 and French Forces in the Arabian Gulf last week.
Mine countermeasures ships USS Ardent (MCM 12) and USS Scout (MCM 8), Royal Navy’s Fleet auxiliary landing dock ship RFA Lyme Bay and mine countermeasures ships HMS Pembroke and HMS Middleton, all assigned to CTF 52, participated alongside French Ships Croix de Sud and Var as well as the ships of SNMCMG 2, Greek frigate HS Spetsai, and minehunters FGS Herten (Germany), HS Kallisto(Greece) ITS Viareggio (Italy) and ESPS Tajo (Spain).
The five-day long exercise began March 20 and gave all forces an opportunity to increase tactical and technical proficiency in a variety of disciplines and emphasized operating as part of a multi-national effort.
In addition to mine detection and neutralization events, the ships conducted gunnery exercises, a group formation photo exercise, underway replenishments and operations with helicopters from Spetsai and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 Det 2, assigned to CTF 52.
LCDR Curtis Sparling, Scout’s commanding officer said, “The NATO PASSEX [passing exercise] provided great opportunities to not only practice our core mine warfare competencies, but to do so with our NATO partners. Together, we were able to become a better prepared, more unified force.”
At the conclusion of the event, a reception was held aboard Greek frigate HS Spetsai, serving as the flagship for SNMCMG 2. It provided a chance for the crews to meet one another in person.
U.S. Fifth Fleet Commander, VADM Mark Fox attended the event.
“We have a unique set of challenges in this region,” Fox said. “We rely on cooperation and partnerships with other coalitions and independent navies to help achieve our goals of maritime stability and security throughout the region.”
CTF 52 is the mine countermeasures force of the Coalition Forces Maritime Component Command overseen by the U.S. 5th Fleet. It operates regularly to ensure free and unfettered use of the sea lanes in the central Arabian Gulf, one of the world’s critical stretches of sea for international commerce.