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U.S., Saudi, British navies wrap trilateral exercise in Arabian Gulf

U.S., Saudi, British navies wrap trilateral exercise in Arabian Gulf
Royal Saudi Naval Force and U.S. Navy ships sail in formation during exercise Nautical Defender 21 in the Arabian Gulf, on Jan. 24. Photo by Aja Bleu Jackson/U.S. Navy

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Forces with the U.S. Navy, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and UK Maritime Component Command conducted tri-lateral maritime exercise Nautical Defender 21 at the end of January, the Navy announced.

The Navy describes Nautical Defender 21 as a "capstone in a series of multinational maritime security exercises designed to broaden levels of cooperation, support long-term regional security, and enhance military-to-military interoperability" between the three militaries.

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This year's exercise took place in the Arabian Gulf from Jan. 20 through 29.

"This was the largest Nautical Defender exercise we've participated in thus far with significant contributions by all participants," Capt. Christopher Gilbertson, commander of Destroyer Squadron and Commander of Task Force 55 said in a press release.

The exercise marked the first time air operations in support of maritime surface warfare has been integrated into a named exercise between the three nations -- and the seventh time Navy Central Command has conducted a maritime drill with partner nations.

Maritime surface warfare drills feature crews aboard various surface platforms, such as destroyers or patrol craft.

"With such a large, complex force, we were able to conduct in depth training across a wide variety of skill sets," said Gilbertson, who led the exercise.

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Participating units conducted multiple simulated scenarios, practiced maritime security, coastal harbor defense, counter-unmanned aerial systems, shipboard gunnery, high value unit escort, small arms, diving and mine clearance skills.

"Our coalition forces are becoming increasingly more flexible and formidable as we involve AOMSW in more and more combined training opportunities," Gilbertson said.

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