September 23, 2012
In this picture taken Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, a French speedboat deployed from the back of the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf passes by the U.S. Navy's floating base used to support mine countermeasure operations. More than 30 nations are participating in an exercise responding to simulated sea-mine attacks in international waters _ a demonstration of international resolve to ensure maritime security in the strategic but volatile region.
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A new, key addition to American-led naval efforts to ensure Mideast oil keeps flowing has emerged as an unusual mix of a ship combining decades' worth of wear and tear with state-of-the-art technology and a largely civilian crew.