US, UK and Dutch naval forces have conducted a large scale combined, bilateral surface, air and sub-surface joint interoperability exercise in the Gulf of Aden.

The exercise included a set of training activities designed to improve maritime interoperability and showcase integration between the UK, Dutch and US naval forces.

The UK Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08), USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups (CSG), and the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), participated in the exercise.

This year, the Iwo Jima ARG is operating for the second time alongside the UK CSG, following an exercise off the coast of Scotland in May.

Ronald Reagan CSG and Task Force 50 commander rear admiral Will Pennington said: “Our team was proud to operate alongside the UK Carrier Strike Group during this unique opportunity to hone the full scope of our mutual capabilities.

“By operating together at sea, we deepen our coalition partnerships and extend our global reach throughout the region’s critical waterways.”

Other participating units in the exercise included F-35B Lightning II JSF from RAF 617 Squadron and USMC Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), anti-submarine frigate HMS Richmond (F 239), and guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67).

The training included practising tactics and procedures covering anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

The naval forces performed precision manoeuvring, long-range maritime strikes, and layered defence and enemy submarine hunting against simulated threats and adversarial forces.

UK CSG commodore commander Steve Moorhouse said: “The aircraft carrier is the ultimate expression of global maritime power.

“Queen Elizabeth, Ronald Reagan and Iwo Jima symbolise the might of the US and UK partnership, and the ease with which our naval and air forces can combine here in the Gulf of Aden, or anywhere else in the world.”