The navies of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Israel and the United States made history on Wednesday as they began conducting a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea, the U.S. military said in a statement on Thursday.

The five-day exercise includes at-sea training aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland and will focus on “visit, board, search and seizure tactics,” according to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). The training will “enhance interoperability between participating forces’ maritime interdiction teams,” according to the statement.

“It is exciting to see U.S. forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities,” said NAVCENT and U.S. 5th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Brad Cooper. “Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability.”

The US 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area 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, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb.

This is the first naval drill involving these four countries and comes amid rising tensions with Iran, and looming nuclear negotiations between the Islamic Republic and global powers.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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