Skip to comments.USS Pearl Harbor VBSS Team Build Bridges in Arabian Gulf
Posted on 12/27/2005 4:19:53 PM PST by SandRat
AT SEA ABOARD USS PEARL HARBOR IN THE ARABIAN GULF The amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) conducted maritime security operations (MSO) in the Arabian Gulf Nov. 20 - Dec. 26.
Pearl Harbor, assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group One (ESG-1), is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the 5th Fleet area of operations conducting MSO. MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as deny international terrorists use of the oceans as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material. A key component of 5 th Fleet MSO is the querying and boarding of vessels or Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS).
Pearl Harbor's 17-man VBSS has spent much of this deployment training on or conducting these vital operations. When Pearl Harbor locates a vessel of interest, the ship's bridge team will query the contact. Depending on the response, the ship will launch the VBSS team. The team approaches the vessel in a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB), and communicates with the vessel's master. Once consent from the master is granted, the Sailors board the vessel.
On board, Pearl Harbor Sailors search the vessel for illegal cargo and contraband, and ensure that no terrorists are aboard. By pressurizing the maritime environment through VBSS, the Navy deters international terrorist organizations from using the seas as a highway. But another less publicized benefit of the VBSS teams, according to the Sailors performing the mission, has been the goodwill fostered between coalition naval forces and merchants and fishermen in the Arabian Gulf.
Operations Specialist Chief Christopher Pierce, says his VBSS team has gained a valuable understanding of how dhow fishermen live and conduct business, and he believes the fishermen are relieved to see the VBSS teams in the vicinity.
The majority of them say they feel safer knowing that they can contact us if they run into problems, said Pierce, who has conducted VBSS missions since 1998 while stationed aboard USS Crommelin (FFG-37) and now aboard Pearl Harbor.
Coalition VBSS teams like Pearl Harbor's provide regional vessels with information they can use to contact naval vessels via bridge-to-bridge radio communication, should they ever require assistance. The boardings have been well-received by the merchants and fishermen, Pierce said.
I think on both ends it is a positive situation.
Dhows, which range from 18 to 50 feet in length with typically five or six crewmembers aboard, are the primary fishing vessel seen throughout the Arabian Gulf. Traditionally constructed of teak wood, the bowed construction and lightweight frame of a dhow makes traveling into shallow waters a key featuresomething that steel-hull commercial vessels are unable to do.
Most of them are just fishing, said Gunner's Mate Second Class Larry Baker. These guys are out here trying to make a livingwe are showing them support.
During this deployment, Pearl Harbor's VBSS team has trained with teams from several of its coalition counterparts, sharing best practices and lessons learned. The Sailors say they take pride in performing such a vital mission.
We are keeping the waters safeone approach, one boarding at a time, said Pierce.
Interesting usage of "Arabian Gulf" as opposed to "Persian Gulf"...
In the UAE and the Arab nations in the gulf, they all refer to it as "The Arabian Gulf". Seeing as we have bases in many of those countries, the people stationed there would probably start using the local terminology. We don't have any more Persian allies... just adversaries. What the heck...