Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2020 for US and Royal British Navy

U.S. and UK Royal Navy mine countermeasures and surface assets are conducting Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2020 (MCMEX 20-3) in the Arabian Gulf April-May. The pre-planned exercise was conducted with U.S. MCMs and UK MCMVs, as well as Royal Navy Type-23 frigates with their embarked Wildcat helicopters.
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Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2020 for US and Royal British Navy 925 001 The HMS Argyll, HMS Shoreham and the mine countermeasures ship USS Dextrous (MCM 13) participate in the bilateral Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2020 (MCMEX 20) with the mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM 11) in the Arabian Gulf, March 28. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

As the theater Mine Warfare Commander (MIWC), the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 52, with embedded Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy mine warfare staff members, designed and directed the exercise. Set in a scenario requiring a combined UK/U.S. response to a notional mining event by a regional adversary, the exercise’s main objective was to integrate Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) with U.S. naval forces, including MH-53 helicopters, an expeditionary squadron of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) divers and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) specialists and Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships (MCM).

This exercise is an opportunity for U.S. mine countermeasures ships to operate with our Royal Navy partners and enhance the combat readiness, flexibility, and capabilities of our forces in the region. At a tactical level, the participating units executed unit-level mine countermeasure tactics to include sweeping, hunting and demonstrating interoperability in a critical maritime region.

Participating U.S. ships included USS Gladiator (MCM 11) and USS Dextrous (MCM 13). Participating Royal Navy ships included minehunter ship HMS Shoreham (M112), mine countermeasures ship HMS Brocklesby (M33), Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose (F236) and Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll (F231), with her embarked Wildcat HMA2 maritime attack helicopter.

CTF 52 provides command and control of all mine warfare assets in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO). The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait at the southern tip of Yemen.