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International Maritime Exercise 2023 Kicks Off Operational Phase

02 March 2023

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain - The Middle East region’s largest maritime exercise, International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 2023, kicked off its operational phase March 2 during an opening ceremony at U.S. 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.

The ceremony capped a week of academic discussions covering a series of topics including the naval planning process, maritime operations center procedures, and disaster response coordination.

IMX 2023 is an 18-day naval training event hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). This year’s iteration is combined with exercise Cutlass Express, which is led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.

The combined exercises include 7,000 personnel, 35 ships, and 30 unmanned and artificial intelligence systems from more than 50 nations and international organizations.

IMX and Cutlass Express are designed to demonstrate global resolve in preserving the rules-based international order, offering a unique opportunity for participants to collaborate and showcase regional maritime security cooperation.

“The incredible level of international representation is truly remarkable,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “Maritime forces are always at our best when we work and lead together.”

Cooper is the IMX 2023 exercise commander. Senior officers from United Arab Emirates and France are serving as the deputy commander and vice commander, respectively. Additionally, IMX’s chief of staff is from Pakistan and the maritime operations center director is from Egypt.

International naval forces participating in the exercise are divided into five operational task forces led by Bahrain, Jordan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Training evolutions will span across the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and East African coastal regions.

The operational phase will include partner exchanges on mine countermeasures; visit, board, search and seizure; unmanned systems and artificial intelligence integration; explosive ordnance disposal; vessel defense; search and rescue; and mass casualty response, among other focus areas.

This is the eighth iteration of IMX since its establishment in 2012.

IMX and Cutlass Express are scheduled to conclude March 16 and 17, respectively. A full list of nations and international organizations participating is available at:


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