DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The US Navy said the world's largest maritime exercise kicked off Monday bringing participants from 30 nations for training across the Middle East.

The International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) is organized and led by Bahrain-based US Naval Forces Central Command, which is responsible for more than 2.5 million square miles of ocean.

"These participating nations are united by a common thread — the need to protect the free flow of commerce from a range of maritime threats including piracy, terrorism and mines," said Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander, US Naval Forces Central Command in a statement.

"This region provides a strong training opportunity for nations worldwide as three of the six major maritime chokepoints in the world are here: the Suez Canal, the Strait of Bab Al Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz," he said.

The exercise will include mine countermeasures, diving operations, small-boat exercises, maritime security operations coordinated with industrial and commercial shipping, unmanned underwater vehicle operations, and port clearance operations, according to the statement.

The exercise ends on April 26.

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