The Kuwait Naval Force, Kuwait Coast Guard and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) participated in bilateral maritime exercise Eager Defender 21 in Kuwait and the North Arabian Gulf, June 4-14. Eager Defender 21 is the capstone in a series of bilateral exercises between Kuwait and U.S. naval forces, focused on enhancing mutual capabilities and interoperability in maritime security operations.
Exercise events included visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), high value unit (HVU) defense, search and rescue, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and shipboard gunnery operations. Participating U.S. naval forces included guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), patrol boat USCGC Monomoy (WPB 1326), a U.S. Coast Guard maritime engagement team and an expeditionary mine countermeasures company.
“Eager Defender was an excellent opportunity to enhance tactical proficiency between U.S. and Kuwaiti shipboard and shore-based personnel,” said Capt. Christopher Gilbertson, commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 50 and Task Force (TF) 55, who led the planning and execution of the exercise. “The strong relationship we have built with our Kuwaiti partners continues to grow as we practice these critical maritime security skillsets as a joint, combined force.”
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. The 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 is comprised of 20 countries and includes three chokepoints, critical to the free flow of global commerce.