GULF OF OMAN (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy with the Royal navy of Oman, the Royal navy, and French Marine Nationale kicked off the 22nd iteration of Exercise Khunjar Haad, an annual multilateral mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise in the Gulf of Oman, Feb. 19.
Approximately 150 U.S. Sailors are participating in evolutions including gunnery exercises (GUNEXs) to maintain Sailors' readiness with on-board weapon systems; air defense exercises (ADEXs) aiming to increase proficiency in air and missile defense; vertical on-deck rescue (VOD) exercises by helicopter to increase proficiency and time improvement during rescue operations; maritime interdiction operations; visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations to increase and maintain proficiency in boarding vessels which may harbor illegal weapons and drugs; and diving operations to promote efficiency underwater.
"Khunjar Haad is one of many exercises with the Royal navy of Oman and other partner nations designed to test our Sailors with unique challenges in mine countermeasures," said Capt. Eric Wirstrom, commodore of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52. "The level of multinational integration demonstrated during this exercise is inspiring and is a testament to the hard work being done here. These exercises strengthen our solid relationships and bring us together towards the shared goal of free flow of commerce."
The exercise continues to promote the sharing of knowledge and experiences between partner nations to improve tactical proficiencies while strengthening solid partnerships.
"It is a privilege to be part of Khunjar Haad," said Capt. Kim Watts, commander of UK Bay-class auxiliary landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay (L3007). "It is important to continue learning and sharing knowledge with our partner nations through exercises to strengthen our mutual ability in addressing threats to the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce."
Participating ships include U.S. Avenger-class MCM ship USS Dextrous (MCM 13) and patrol coastal ships USS Monsoon (PC 4) and USS Squall (PC 7); Royal navy Daring-class air-defense destroyer HMS Daring (D32), Sandown-class MCM vessel HMS Bangor (M109), Hunt-class MCM vessel and HMS Middleton (M34), and Lyme Bay; Royal navy of Oman Khareef-class navy patrol vessel Al Shamikh (Q40), Al Batinah, and Al Bushra-class patrol craft Al Bushra; and French Marine Nationale anti-air frigate FS Forbin (D620).
Also operating in the Gulf of Oman, U.S. Marines and Omani soldiers are participating in exercise Sea Soldier 17, led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and hosted by the Royal army of Oman. The annual bilateral exercise aims to enhance communication and coordination between U.S. and Omani forces, build mutual warfighting capability, and support long-term regional cooperation.
U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
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