France Australia UK and US Conduct Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Persian Gulf
France Australia UK and US Conduct Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Persian Gulf

France Australia UK and US Conduct Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Persian Gulf

The French Marine Nationale, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Navy, and U.S. Navy participated in multi-lateral mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise Artemis Trident (AT) 21 in the Arabian Gulf, April 18-29. This was the fifth iteration in the series of MCM exercises between the four partner nations held to enhance mine hunting and communications interoperability. Participating forces engaged in multiple simulated scenarios, conducting mine hunting and clearance, maritime security, force protection and dive operations training.

The French Marine Nationale minehunter FS L'Aigle (M 647), left, conducts force protection training with a Mark VI patrol boat, attached to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 56, during exercise Artemis Trident 21 in the Arabian Gulf, April 21.
The French Marine Nationale minehunter FS L’Aigle (M 647), left, conducts force protection training with a Mark VI patrol boat, attached to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 56, during exercise Artemis Trident 21 in the Arabian Gulf, April 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Pearson)

AT 21 also included the integration of unmanned underwater systems alongside traditional MCM capabilities, such as mine hunting ships and aircraft. Participating coalition forces included more than 700 personnel, seven mine countermeasures ships, two patrol boats, three expeditionary MCM companies, two helicopters and additional supporting staff from the four participating navies, with the Royal Navy’s landing ship dock RFA Cardigan Bay (L 3009) serving as exercise flag ship throughout.

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France Australia UK and US Conduct Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Persian Gulf
A MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to the “Chargers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, lands on the flight deck of Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing ship dock RFA Cardigan Bay (L 3009) during exercise Artemis Trident 21 in the Arabian Gulf, April 26. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Wheeler Brunschmid)

“AT 21 reinforced the need for interoperability, flexibility and adaptability between our coalition partners, especially as we adopt and employ new technology like unmanned systems and artificial intelligence to our evolving inventory of MCM capabilities. We remain committed to increasing our understanding of our partners’ tactics, techniques and procedures, which enhances our collective readiness as we work together to safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce throughout this region” said Capt. Oscar Rojas, commander of TF 52, who led the planning and execution of the exercise.

France Australia UK and US Conduct Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Persian Gulf
French Marine Nationale minehunter HMS Penzance (M 106) operates in the Arabian Gulf during an air defense exercise as part of Artemis Trident 21, April 25. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Wheeler Brunschmid)

The Fifth Fleet is a numbered fleet of the United States Navy. It has been responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean since 1995 after a 48-year hiatus. It shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in Bahrain. As of 19 August 2020, the commander of the 5th Fleet is Vice Admiral Samuel J. Paparo Jr. Fifth Fleet/NAVCENT is a component command of, and reports to, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

France Australia UK and US Conduct Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Persian Gulf
A multinational group of mine countermeasure ships from the French Marine Nationale, UK Royal Navy and U.S. Navy operate in formation during exercise Artemis Trident 21 in the Arabian Gulf, April 21. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Theoren Neal)
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