Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Francis Centeno launches an F-35B Lightning II attached to the "Avengers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 from the flight deck of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sabyn L. Marrs/U.S. Navy
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Navy and coalition forces are performing exercises as part of the U.S. 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise.
The exercise falls under maritime stability and security operations by the U.S. Central Command, which is meant to train and deter against aggression in key points in the Mediterranean, Pacific and the western Indian Ocean.
"Cooperative security ensures cooperative prosperity, and these collective exercises conducted with our partners and allies allow us to practice the full spectrum of naval operations," commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet Vice Adm. Scott Stearney said in a press release.
"This demonstration of naval maneuver, posture and partnership reassures the international community that we will ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, anywhere, anytime," Stearney said.
The U.S. 5th Fleet is leading the Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal 18 and Mine Countermeasures Exercise 18-3, as well as participating in Bright Star 18. Patrol vessels with U.S. 5th Fleet Task Force 55 are expected to conduct MK-60 Griffin surface-to-surface missile and gun exercises against small high speed targets.
TACR will take place off Djibouti and will improve readiness for littoral and mine countermeasure capabilities by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The focus will be the key choke point of the Bab al Mandeb, a straight between Yemen and Djibouti that connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Carney, the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, a Task Force 55 VBSS team and the Task Force 56 expeditionary mine countermeasures company are participating in Bright Star 18. The exercise will focus on training to secure the Suez Canal.
MCMEX 18-3 is an exercise conducted by the United States and United Kingdom four times a year that is meant to improve mine countermeasure operations and interoperability.
The F-35B Lightning II has also arrived there with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is expected to take part in the exercises. The aircraft will train with the Marine Corps at military ranges in Djibouti and in international waters off the Djibouti coast.
The Essex-class Landing Helicopter Deck is designed for the deployment of amphibious assaults using landing craft, helicopters and vertical take off and landing aircraft like the Harrier jump jet and F-35B.