The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) sponsored exercise, Cutlass Express 2012, has officially started and is aimed at boosting East African maritime relationships through focusing on mutual security issues.
The second exercise in the series, Cutlass Express 2012 is being conducted as a part of the larger 'Express' series and involves participation of sailors and civilian maritime professionals from eight countries.
Participating nations include Djibouti, Mauritius, Mozambique, Netherlands, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and the US.
Tanzanian People's Defence Force chief of operations and training major general Farrah Mohammed said that the exercise was intended to jointly enhance combat capabilities against piracy, illicit trafficking and illegal fishing in the region.
The drill involves pre-sail training events scheduled to be held in-port in Djibouti, Mauritius, and Tanzania, as well as at-sea training in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
Forces taking part will perform pier-side workshops and focus on maritime interdiction operations (MIO), which include vessel boarding drills, as part of the in-port portion of training.
Personnel will also conduct first aid procedures and communications drills.
Small boats to larger ships will be taking part in the drill including the Royal Netherlands Navy's Rotterdam-class amphibious transport dock, HNLMS Rotterdam flagship of Nato Task Force 508.
During the exercise, allied personnel will also coordinate with regional maritime operations centres in Mauritius, Djibouti, and Tanzania.
Cutlass Express 2012 is also aimed at addressing East African coast common maritime issues through information sharing and coordinated operations among international navies.
The exercise is scheduled to conclude on 8 November.
Image: The Royal Netherlands Navy's Rotterdam-class ship, HNLMS Rotterdam conducting mission. Photo: courtesy of Royal Netherlands Navy / Koninklijke Marine.