Two of the four British minehunters based in the Middle East – HMS Brocklesby and Ledbury – were involved in the exercise, plus a battle staff, specialist dive team and support ship RFA Cardigan Bay.
According to the Royal Navy, more than 5,000 personnel, 30 ships and more than 50 nations were committed to the fortnight-long IMX 19 (International Maritime Exercise) workout, spread across a vast area from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean and Gulf.
“Two of the four British minehunters based in the Middle East – HMS Brocklesby and Ledbury – are involved in the exercise, plus a battle staff, specialist dive team and support ship RFA Cardigan Bay. The latter normally acts as a mother ship to the Royal Navy’s minehunters, providing them with fuel, food and ammo to sustain operations for extended periods.
Instead, for the duration of the exercise – the third such international meeting of minds on mines – she has become the ‘United Nations of Divers’ with teams from ten different nations embarked, including the UK’s Fleet Diving Unit 3, their focus on the ‘underwater battle’ in finding, identifying and neutralising any mines found beneath the surface of the Gulf. In the case of FDU3 – normally based at Horsea Island in Portsmouth, but with a permanent three-strong team supporting Royal Navy operations in the Gulf – they also ‘exploit’ mines, safely recovering the devices for investigation to help colleagues cope should they encounter them in the future.”
The first week of IMX 19 is understood to be largely devoted to getting the many different participants to work together seamlessly, stepping up a gear next week, using a fictional scenario to help focus the collective response to mine threats in the region.