USS Monterey’s Sailors Conduct First VBSS Mission
Sailors assigned to guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) successfully conducted their first Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) mission, May 19.
After determining that the unidentified radar contact was a dhow, the VBSS team was called to perform an approach and assist mission. The purpose of the visit is establish friendly relationships with local mariners while gathering and sharing information that leads to a safer and more secure operating environment in the Arabian Gulf.
“My VBSS team responded quickly and efficiently,” said Ensign Cesar Ramos, the VBSS team’s leader. “We were on alert and completely ready to take part in this mission.”
The VBSS team approached and made contact with the crew of the dhow who identified themselves as fishermen.
“We had no suspicions that anything out of the ordinary was occurring on the vessel,” said Ensign Brandon McDowell. “We were simply conducting our mission of building positive relationships with local fisherman. We want to make sure they understand we are here to help and that we are available if they need assistance.”
After making initial contact and sharing information, the master of the dhow invited the team to board his vessel. Members of Monterey’s VBSS team moved onboard the dhow and continued their conversation and exchange of information.
“The VBSS team had a positive meeting with the crew and even enjoyed some tea together,” said Ramos. “We exchanged small gifts and made a great first step in developing a good relationship and reputation with the local fishing community.”
“Monterey’s current mission in 5th Fleet is maritime security operations,” said McDowell. “A big part of that mission is to meet and greet local fishermen to get a good understanding of the activities, both legal and illegal, in the area. We had a good first visit, and have proven that our VBSS team is capable of safely and effectively carrying out our mission in the area.”
Monterey is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Press Release, May 31, 2013; Image: Navy