The US Fifth fleet, was established in 1995. However, the US Navy has been providing a continual presence in the Gulf since 1948.
As the annual maritime and Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX 2022) in Doha concluded this week, Doha News sat down with the Commander of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain.
Vice Admiral Brad Cooper discussed the unique security challenges the region faces and said Qatar’s role in one of the largest maritime partnership’s in the world was critical.
“This is a 34-nation maritime partnership. Qatar is the key partner of this partnership, operating every single day out on the seas, ensuring security and stability in Qatar. This particular coalition of 34 nations leads efforts to ensure maritime security in the region, the free flow of commerce, we lead counter-piracy efforts, and then a separate group leads security and stability in the Arabian Gulf.”
Role of the Fifth fleet
The US Fifth fleet was initially based in the region to protect the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, to ensure the free flow of oil. Vice Admiral Cooper said energy resources from this region literally and figuratively fuel the world.
“To ensure all that flows and there is stability, we make sure that we are deployed throughout the region as a stablising affect, working with our friends and partners to help stabilise the region, ultimately to ensure, free flow of commerce. That’s why we exist here and the how we achieve that is through a very strong and partnered network of friends that stretches throughout the region.”
Read also: DIMDEX 2022: How Qatar expanded its navy significantly
The Gulf is relatively a small sea. When Doha News asked what the challenges were with working in such close proximity with a large navy like Iran’s, Vice Admiral Cooper said the overwhelming majority of the interactions with Iran were ‘professional.’
“On a day to day basis, to ensure that free flow of commerce, we are spread out and we are operating with our friends, our own countrymen, and women from other navies all of the commercial shipping that is occurring throughout the region and then more specifically when we get in the Arabian Gulf, we do act with the Iranians on the near day to day basis, the overwhelming majority of those interactions are safe and professional.”
DIMDEX 2022: Qatar’s role has an “important strategic impact”
The US Navy says its mission in the Middle East is to help maintain security and stability, which helps protect global trade. Vice Admiral Cooper emphasised that ensuring the free flow of commerce throughout the region is the Fifth’s fleet main concern.
“We’re focused on this, international maritime security focuses on it through the strategic choke points and the other organisations, that combined maritime forces of 34 nations focuses it more broadly, throughout the entire region. So we wake up every day, focused on enhancing maritime security to ensure that free flow of commerce. This is what we’re here to do.”
Speaking to Doha News at the international Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX 2022), Vice Admiral Cooper said it was a “privilege” to be able to attend and that it was the perfect platform for naval commanders to build partnerships and strengthen international ties.
“Enhanced flow of commerce is going to hinge on two things, our ability to strengthen great partnerships that we currently have, and also innovate in a different way to be able to think and employ some of the new technology that you see here in a more meaningful manner. So I think this is a fantastic forum to be able to feature some of those systems. At the end of the day, the systems will work with the most important element, which are the people in the relationship that we have over a period of time.”