The Saudi Royal Naval Forces is taking part in the multinational mixed international naval drill IMX19, launched Sunday from the Bahrain-based US Naval Forces Central Command, with the participation of 56 countries and seven international organizations.
The common objective of the drill is to enhance cooperation and achieve common goals to strengthen the relations among the participating countries, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
IMX 19 is the world’s largest multinational mixed international naval exercise which is taking place at the North Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Coast of Djibouti and Gulf of Aqaba.
The drill which concludes on 14 November, is the most comprehensive exercise in the world aimed at fostering relationships and inter-operability between supporting forces and maritime security operations by working together among participating forces, in order to deter threats to the freedom of navigation, and demonstrate the global determination to maintain the freedom of navigation and free flow of maritime trade.
This year’s exercises, which are hosted by the US Naval Forces Central Command and the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, will be the largest IMX held to date, according to Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, who commands both forces.
“This year’s iteration is the largest yet, expanding in size and geography; including all essential elements of maritime security operations. We’ve grown participation by about twenty nations, are covering an unprecedented amount of ground in the region, and our multinational team is taking part in more training scenarios than ever before,” said Malloy.
This year’s IMX is the sixth of its kind and involves four main phases: staff training, table-top and classroom exercises, fleet training exercise (FTX), and force redeployment.
An earlier US Navy press release stated that the IMX 19 will be the “most dynamic” iteration yet, covering more than nearly 2.5 million square miles of waters in the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The maritime exercise will feature operations at the three main regional choke points of the Suez Canal, the Bab-al-Mandeb and Strait of Hormuz.
The US Navy release noted that the IMX 19 will feature various air, surface and underwater mine countermeasure operations as well as harbor force protection scenarios using underwater drones.
The participants will also hold an infrastructure protection symposium and a search-and-seizure seminar in Manama, Bahrain.
The list of participants also includes seven international organizations as well as different civilian and maritime industry organizations.
“We all recognize that as navies, the maritime has extreme value in promoting stabilization, security and promoting the flow of commerce back and forth,” Malloy said back in July, when he hosted the Final Planning Conference of the IMX19 in Manama.
The first IMX was conducted in 2012 while the most recent iteration was staged in 2017.