BAHRAIN (NNS) -- Ships from the U.S. and United Kingdom navies and the commercial shipping industry coordinated maneuvers during exercise Lucky Mariner 13, held Dec. 7-11.
Lucky Mariner is an annual exercise, led by Naval Coordination and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) that teams regional naval forces with industry representatives to integrate civilian-military responses to violent extremist threats to theater shipping.
"The hazards that we face as far as the sea lanes of communication span anything from mine threats to state actors to terrorist threats, and can really come from anywhere," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Piano, Task Force 53 force protection officer. "The Lucky Mariner exercise is meant to identify threats, practice defense techniques, validate procedures and apply them if and when we would ever need them."
To help coordinate these efforts, United Kingdom Maritime Trade Office, Maritime Administration, U.S. Maritime Liaison Office, Naval Coordination and Guidance for Shipping office and industry representatives set up an exercise crisis response center at Naval Support Activity, Bahrain. The center, equipped with wifi and a multitude of computers and charts, served as a communications node for aircraft, ships, and civilian companies to pass information to civilian and military leaders so they could react to situations as they developed.
The exercise uses a Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) scenario to prepare for the possibility that a VEO may attack theater shipping to affect regional economic stability interrupt freedom of navigation. Recent history has demonstrated that VEOs use asymmetric means like improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used attacks against the USS Cole in 2000, the M/V Limburg in 2002 and the M/V M. Star in 2010, they have used seaborne IEDs, in port and afloat.
Capt. Stephen Evans, commodore, Destoryer Squadron 50, spoke about the tremendous effort leading to the successful completion of the exercise.
"Lucky Mariner was a very successful exercise from all standpoints," said Evans. "Thanks to the teamwork and integration of the military and industry players involved, we were able to meet all objectives and successfully conduct an operation that hasn't been done since Operation Earnest Will in the 1980s."
In a typical week more than 500 ships will sail through the Strait of Hormuz. Three hundred of these ships are energy carriers, the rest carry other maritime commerce critical to the vitality of nations here in the Gulf and elsewhere in the region.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.