Jerusalem, 1 September, 2021 (TPS) — For the first time in history, the Israeli Navy held a joint exercise with the US Fifth Fleet on Tuesday, as tensions in the region run high.
The Fifth Fleet is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean.
During the two-day drill held in the Gulf of Aqaba, four ships from two navies practiced protection, rescue and other scenarios while working together, with an emphasis on joint learning and strengthening the connection between the fleets.
Guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey sailed alongside an Israeli Navy Sa’ar corvette and two patrol boats as a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flew overhead.
“The exercise symbolizes the ‘opening shot’ for the joint work of the Navy with the Fifth Fleet, as part of the IDF’s transition to CENTCOM,” the IDF stated.
The US Central Command (CENTCOM) is responsible for the Middle East, including Iran. The IDF was transferred to CENTCOM from EUCOM in January after the signing of the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
“The cooperation between the fleets is intended to strengthen security, including maintaining maritime trade routes for the sake of regional stability,” the IDF stated.
The drill comes as tensions in the waters in the Middle East are high following repeated Iranian attacks on merchant targets in the area.
Head of the Israeli Navy Sea Shipyard, Brigadier General Daniel Hagari, stated that “the partnership with the Fifth Fleet is a strategic partnership for the security of the region and the security of Israel. This exercise is the beginning of a cooperation that will expand and increase the circles of defense and security in the maritime space to prevent terrorist acts.”
“Our navies are ushering in a new era of expanded cooperation and capacity building,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. “We are partnering in new ways, which is essential for preserving security in today’s dynamic maritime environment.”
“Combined patrols like these help maintain regional maritime security and stability,” said Capt. Robert Francis, commodore for NAVCENT’s Task Force 55 which controls US Navy surface assets in the Middle East. “The collaboration has been tremendous. We share a common understanding with our international counterparts that there is strength in unity.”