19 September 2012
A small Royal New Zealand Navy team is in the Gulf to enhance their mine countermeasure knowledge as part of the International Mine Counter Measures Exercise 2012 (IMCMEX 12).
Hosted by the US Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT), IMCMEX 12 is an international symposium and associated afloat exercise of mine countermeasure capabilities, and will take place over the period 16 – 27 September at multiple locations in the USNAVCENT area of operations.
Over 30 nations are participating in IMCMEX 12, making it one of the largest exercises of its type to be conducted. The NZ Defence Force involvement includes a Mine Countermeasures Task Unit embarked onboard the UK Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship, RFA CARDIGAN BAY, operating alongside UK and Australian personnel off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Participating in IMCMEX 12 demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to protecting vital international shipping routes, says the Defence Force’s Maritime Component Commander, Commodore (CDRE) John Martin. A team of 24 people is participating in the Exercise.
"New Zealand is not immune from threats at sea, even far from our shores, which affect the safety of the sea lanes and impact on our trade," says CDRE Martin.
"Mines can pose a threat to all maritime traffic. Therefore we must be prepared to conduct these sorts of maritime security operations under international maritime conventions, in order to ensure the safety of commercial shipping in international waters.
"Through our involvement in the exercise, we will be able to strengthen our relationships and foster interoperability with other Mine Countermeasures (MCM) forces, and further enhance our own capabilities."
"The exercise provides the Littoral Warfare Support Force with the opportunities to develop their competencies further, "says CDRE Martin.
"Although a small team, New Zealand’s Littoral Warfare Support Force has considerable experience operating in challenging conditions, and this exercise will continue to build on that experience to deal with a variety of challenging scenarios. The public most often see these skills used when we support NZ government agencies. For example, we provided assistance during the Canterbury Quake, surveyed the sea-bed off Tauranga following the RENA disaster to ensure shipping routes were free from debris, and all too regularly search for members of the community in the event of their loss at sea."
For further information contact the NZ Public Affairs Officer for the Exercise, Major John Gordon, on +64 21 478 574, or contact the Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980