September 1 (UPI) – U.S. and Israeli warships conducted a combined maritime security patrol in the Red Sea this week as the transfer of responsibility for Israel from U.S. European Command to U.S. Central Command came into effect on Wednesday.
The exercise included the guided-missile cruiser USS of the U.S. 5th Fleet and a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as well as an Israeli Navy corvette and two patrol boats performing air defense, defense of ‘high-value units, small boat operations and tactical maneuver training in the Gulf of Aqaba, the US Navy said in a statement.
“Our navies are ushering in a new era of expanded cooperation and capacity building,” said Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.
“We are working in partnership in new ways, which is essential to maintain safety in today’s dynamic maritime environment,” said Cooper.
At the end of his administration, former President Donald Trump ordered the US Department of Defense to transfer responsibility for Israel from EUCOM to CENTCOM.
The change followed the Abrahamic Accords, a series of political agreements between Israel and neighboring countries.
CENTCOM chief General Kenneth McKenzie said in February that the transition would take time but allow for a collective approach to security in the region, Defense News reported.
Captain Robert Francis, commodore of NAVCENT Task Force 55, which controls the US Navy’s surface assets in the Middle East, said the combined patrol would help maintain security and stability.
“The collaboration has been great,” he said. “We share a common understanding with our international counterparts that there is strength in unity.”
The exercise included search and rescue exercises and tactical defense maneuvers.
“The partnership with the 5th Fleet is a strategic partnership for the security of the region and the security of Israel,” said the brigadier. General Daniel Hagari, Israel Defense Forces chief of naval operations, said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“This exercise is the start of a cooperation that will widen and increase the defense and security circles in the maritime space to prevent terrorist acts,” Hagari said.