US naval forces have completed their participation in a weeklong Oman-led naval exercise, commencing on 7 May, alongside forces from France and the United Kingdom.

Personnel from a US 5th Fleet expeditionary mine countermeasures unit participated with crewmembers from the mine countermeasures ship USS Dextrous (MCM 13) and a US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft—the exercise aimed to strengthen relationships and enhance interoperability among participating military forces.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, hosted the Royal Navy of Oman commander, Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser bin Mohsin Al Rahbi and other senior Omani officials for discussions on strengthening regional maritime security cooperation.

The US 5th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean, and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.

The exercise demonstrates the US Navy’s continued commitment to promoting regional stability through enhanced cooperation and interoperability with partner nations.

In March 2023, the military forces of Oman and the US participated in the Invincible Sentry exercise, with the crisis response exercise sponsored by the US Central Command (CENTCOM).

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Oman receives military and financial help from the US in return for American troops’ use of its military bases. Besides the US and UK, Oman maintains strong defence ties with France and procures substantial equipment.

Oman’s close relationships with the UK, the US, and France are set to continue over the forecast period due to its dependence on their companies to maintain its military equipment, according to GlobalData’s report on the “Oman Defence Market 2023-2028“.

“Training alongside the incredible forces of Oman’s Royal Navy has been an invaluable experience for our aircraft, ships and divers,” said United Kingdom Royal Navy Captain Derek McKnight, deputy commander for Task Force 52, oversees US 5th Fleet’s mine countermeasures mission in the Middle East. “I have no doubt that opportunities such as this increase our effectiveness and enable us to achieve shared objectives.”

Last month, a US Navy ship patrolling the Middle East seized $42m in drugs. The USS Paul Hamilton intercepted a fishing vessel trying to smuggle illegal drugs while transiting the Gulf of Oman on April 21.