U.S. naval forces completed participation in a weeklong Oman-led naval exercise in and off the coast of Oman, 11 May, with forces from France and the United Kingdom.

The five-day exercise, called Khunjar Hadd, focused on mine countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal, maritime interdiction and other combined naval operations. Personnel from a U.S. 5th Fleet expeditionary mine countermeasures unit participated with crewmembers from mine countermeasures ship USS Dextrous (MCM 13) and a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The exercise aimed to strengthen relationships and enhance interoperability among participating military forces. It began May 7, the same day U.S. 5th Fleet hosted Oman’s top naval commander at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain.

“Training alongside the incredible forces of Oman’s Royal Navy has been an invaluable experience for our aircraft, ships and divers,” said United Kingdom Royal Navy Capt. Derek McKnight, deputy commander for Task Force 52, which oversees U.S. 5th Fleet’s mine countermeasures mission in the Middle East. “I have no doubt that opportunities such as this increase our effectiveness and enable us to achieve shared objectives.”

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, hosted Commander of the Royal Navy of Oman Rear Adm. Saif bin Nasser bin Mohsin Al Rahbi and other senior Omani officials for discussions on strengthening regional maritime security cooperation. Cooper later traveled to Oman and embarked Royal Navy of Oman patrol vessel RNOV Al Rahmani (Q41) to observe the exercise.

U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.