Iraq Joins The International Mine Clearing Exercise

I’ve been in the Persian Gulf covering the huge international mine clearing exercise less than 300 miles from the Strait of Hormuz, and Saturday the Navy dropped the media back off in Bahrain.

That means you’ll be seeing a lot of coverage on CNN, ABC, BBC, and Al Jazeera popping up over the next few days about some of the things that went on out here. The big news organisations all filmed the press conferences, including the one we received Friday morning after we boarded the USS Ponce. The Ponce is the lead ship in the multinational exercise, and the first floating base in the U.S. Navy.

We were surprised at that briefing when we were shown a list of countries participating in the exercise that we’d not seen before. Unfortunately, our shock must have given us away because a senior public affairs officer, a Navy Captain, promptly asked us not to report any of the names we’d seen that hadn’t been released to the public.

We all agreed, but Saturday aboard the Ponce one of the countries ship’s came close enough for me to snap this picture with a telephoto lens. It’s the Iraqi patrol boat P-307 sailing alongside the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Gridley. 

The P-307 was delivered to Iraq in March 2012, carries a 30mm cannon and is manned by crew of 25 sailors. I talked to a Navy officer who told me if I was able to see it, I could go ahead and report it. 

The P-307 wasn’t there long, and right after I snapped the first couple of shots it took a hard left away from the far side of the Gridley, and disappeared into the distance.

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

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