US, allies in big Gulf naval exercise
Manama, September 28, 2012
New mine-sweeping technologies are being deployed to the region after the completion of a 10-day major naval exercise in the Gulf, which was designed to show a global will to keep oil shipping lanes open as Israel and Iran trade threats of war.
A prototype mine-detecting drone was tested as the US and its allies conducted an operation that focused on clearing mines that Tehran, or guerilla groups, might deploy to disrupt tanker traffic, notably in the Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula.
The advanced sonar-equipped Kingfish sub is being evaluated by the Pentagon.
Although the US Navy says drills were not designed to specifically confront a threat from Iran, Tehran has warned it would try to close the Gulf's strategic Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for sanctions over its nuclear programme.
Thirty countries from six continents took part in the anti-mine activity, which saw 3,000 sailors and 20 military cruise ships, out of them 10 mine sweepers, besides two helicopters and special naval divers.
Vice Admiral John Miller, commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, said in a Press conference at the US Navy Base in Juffair that the drill showed success in hunting and dismantling sea mines.
"We have applied new naval techniques between us participants that reflect an incredible and distinguishable co-operation that could face any threat in sea in future," he said.
"The drill was to ensure that the international community was able to guarantee the security and safety of international waters from mines or any dangers that may threaten maritime.
"Bahrain deserves praise for hosting the drill and without His Majesty King Hamad's support it wouldn't have been possible and it all goes back to our 60-year relationship."
He added the US Naval Forces Central Command would continue providing support for operations in Afghanistan.
Rear Admiral Kenneth M Perry, Vice Commander, Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, said a new hi-tech Kingfish sonar device was used in the drill.
"The UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) was used to hunt and detect mines and from tests it's promising and will be used whenever we complete assessment," he said.
"We introduced new techniques to hunt and remove sea mines using submarines and helicopters besides special divers and non-human chipped equipment to track mines in deep waters.
"Defensive manoeuvres were applied to dispatch mines."
He said there were plans to have more drills in future, but did not disclose further information.
The GDN reported earlier that for its part, Iran has said it would hold a major air defence exercise next month, showing its ability to protect nuclear sites.-TradeArabia News Service