USS GUNSTON HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- Amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) is participating in the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2012 (IMCMEX 12) while operating in the Gulf of Aden, Sept. 16-27.
More than 30 international partners from Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North America are involved in IMCMEX 12, making it the largest exercise of its kind in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
So far, Gunston Hall has hosted members of the Royal British, Royal Canadian, Djiboutian and Yemeni navies, amongst others.
The Canadian naval officers are in charge of the exercise's operations aboard Gunston Hall.
"We are the eyes and ears of the reporting network of the day-to-day operations for the commander of the joint task group," said Royal Canadian Navy Lt. David Botting, Gunston Hall's IMCMEX 12 battle watch officer.
The multilateral exercise focuses on mine countermeasures (MCM) operations, but also includes MCM support activities such as intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance; maritime security operations; visit, board, search, and seizure events; maritime critical infrastructure protection; explosive ordnance disposal; maritime domain awareness and force protection.
"MCM work has got to be a continuous program and an evolving subject, so if we should ever be called upon to go and do some sort of lane clearance, we are ready and capable of doing it," said Royal Navy Chief Diver Alan Knowles.
"It's about international partners coming together and working toward a common goal of keeping the waterways secure and open for all vessels," said Lt. John Gray, Gunston Hall's operations officer. "It's important because when you share ideas and a collaboration of resources, you come up with new, efficient and better ways of doing things."
Gunston Hall is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Gunston Hall is currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.