As part of a wider integration with Gulf maritime forces, Combined Task Force 152 (CTF 152) planned and supervised a series of Search and Rescue exercises, known as Exercise Falcon Response, off the Kuwaiti coast.

The aim of the exercise was for the navies and coast guards of Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to work together in testing and proving specific Search and Rescue techniques.

Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel
Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel

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Set against a fictitious scenario in which the Bahrain headquarters of CTF 152 received a distress call from an unknown location, the task groups involved in Falcon Response set about searching for the casualty in the waters of the Gulf.

Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel
Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel

Each vessel in turn was nominated as the On-Site Coordinator (OSC) a task which involved selecting the most appropriate search pattern for the ships to follow, based on their best estimate of where the call came from. They would then coordinate the other ships in searching an area of water for the casualty.

Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait  Naval Force and Kuwait Coast Guard on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel
Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force and Kuwait Coast Guard on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel

Specialists from the US Coastguard attended throughout to provide guidance and expert advice if required. Observers from the Saudi Navy and Coastguard were also present with the intention of participating in future exercises under the CTF 152 banner.

Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force and Kuwait Coast Guard on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel
Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force and Kuwait Coast Guard on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel

The Executive Officer of the Kuwait Naval Force warship Al Fahaheel, Captain Mohammad Al-Ansari KNF, said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to work with our brothers in the Kuwaiti Coastguard, as well as CTF 152 to practice and prove search techniques that will be of benefit to all mariners in our waters.”

Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force and Kuwait Coast Guard on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel
Lt Dennelly of the US Coast Guard and members of the Kuwait Naval Force and Kuwait Coast Guard on the bridge of the Kuwaiti warship Al Fahaheel

The exercise supervisor, Lt Andy Dennelly US Coast Guard, added: “Having been involved in the planning of Falcon Response, it is such a pleasure to see the enthusiasm with which the Kuwait maritime forces have taken on their roles in the search phases. 

“Together with my Saudi colleagues, these nations have wonderful maritime histories and I was impressed to see how they manage their sailors in achieving the objectives of ‘Safety of Life at Sea’.  Normally the difficulties arise in the areas of Command and Control and so far I have been really pleased with the effectiveness of the Kuwaiti procedures.”

Participants for Falcon Response included the US Navy and Coast Guard, the Kuwait Naval Force and Coast Guard, the Saudi Navy and Coast Guard, the Bahraini Navy and Coast Guard and the Royal Navy. 

All exercise planning and supervision was managed from Bahrain, by Commander Task Force 152, whose primary role is to coordinate Theatre Security Cooperation (TSC) activities with regional partners, conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and remain prepared to respond to any crisis that may develop.