USS Samuel B. Roberts Completes At-Sea Exercise Cutlass Express


USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) completed the inaugural at-sea portion of exercise Cutlass Express, in the Somali Basin region, Oct. 25-28.

Cutlass Express is an exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, and focuses on addressing piracy through information sharing and coordinated operations among international navies.

The at-sea portion of Cutlass Express was a multinational communications exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations to increase counter-piracy capabilities in the waters off the Horn of Africa. In addition, this exercise is a branch of Africa Partnership Station (APS), during which Samuel B. Roberts was the training platform in the most recent edition of APS East that took place July through September of this year.

“Exercise Cutlass Express was the culmination of all the relationship-building Samuel B. Roberts has facilitated in the East African region over the past four months while executing the APS mission,” said Cmdr. Angel Cruz, commanding officer of Samuel B. Roberts.

“We are proud to have served in such a noble mission and are happy to have once again worked with our African partner-nations and made history together in this addition to APS.”

Samuel B. Roberts’ role in Cutlass Express was primarily geared towards providing ship-boarding operation training to the eight marines of the Uganda People’s Defense Force who were embarked aboard the ship. The ship also had two ship riders from the South African navy who observed Cutlass Express and the day-to-day underway operations aboard Samuel B. Roberts.
South African Lt. P.J. Ndimande, commanding officer of South African navy’s SAS Tekwame (P1554), was one of the ship riders aboard Samuel B. Roberts for Cutlass Express.

“It was a great experience riding and observing operations aboard Samuel B. Roberts,” said Ndimande. “I’ve noticed we use much of the same underway practices, but what has surprised me most is that the junior enlisted in the U.S. Navy perform much of the same tasks on the bridge that the South African navy officers do – tasks like chart plotting, navigation and the actual driving of the ship.”

The ashore portion of the exercise featured simulated civilian and military operations centers that seek to enhance both cooperation and capacity on the East African coast, which took place July 18-22. The weeklong table-top planning exercise paved the way for all that would happen during the recent at-sea portion of Cutlass Express.

“We learned a lot of things,” said Lt. Anthony Blaine at the planning conference in July. “The most important thing wasn’t something you can put into an after-action report. People met and exchanged business cards, and made connections. That aspect meant a lot for this venture, and I’m honored to have been a part of it.”

Exercise Cutlass Express is yet another pillar that demonstrates U.S. and participant-nation commitment to regional stability and maritime security, with participating nations including Djibouti, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, The Seychelles, Uganda and the United States. Over the past four years, APS has grown and developed from the philosophy that strengthening our ability to cooperate at-sea supports a secure maritime environment for all nations.

Exercise Cutlass Express took place at sea in the vicinity of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Mombasa, Kenya, and The Seychelles with coordination among regional maritime operations centers. Samuel B. Roberts provided at-sea U.S. warship platform participation while several Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet staff personnel also participated as exercise planners and trainers.

Samuel B. Roberts is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate that is homeported in Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and is currently on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

Source: navy, October 30, 2011;