USS Blue Ridge, USS Freedom Teams Engage in Cross-Training

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The littoral combat ship USS Freedom’s (LCS 1 visit, board, search and seizure team) and the amphibious command and control ship USS Blue Ridge LCC 19 Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team, Pacific staged a joint boarding exercise on the Freedom, June 11.

The exercise involved both teams on Freedom’s 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat to practice boarding techniques. The exercise allowed for an interchange of ideas and best practices while both forward-deployed ships were in the same harbor.

 “We had about 15 Marines and 12 Sailors,” said Chief Fire Controlman Richard Schaefer. “We were going over exactly how to properly do a hook and pole, set our hooks and climb over the side of a ship. Marines are usually on the ground, they’re not used to a waterborne entry onto a ship, so they had a lot of questions about how we do things, and vice versa.”

“This was the first time out on a small craft for us,” explained Lance Cpl. Derek Tang. “It was first time using a Jacob’s ladder to get onto a ship for us too. [The Freedom crew] was very informative. It was great getting to work with them, and listening to how they talk, and how they work, so if we ever have to work with them we’re not doing this stuff on the fly.”

The cross-training gave these Sailors and Marines heightened preparation for the challenges of compliant boarding during patrols in the Southeast Asia region.

 “My Sailors enjoyed it,” said Schaefer. “They got to interact with another branch and get some new perspectives which I think helped them out. Both teams probably came out a little bit better and more proficient after the evolution since we can take their best practices and ours, and combine them so we get the best of both worlds.”

Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ship platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surfaces warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare.

Freedom will remain homeported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. The “Gold” crew of 91 Sailors include mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter initially mans freedom. Halfway through Freedom’s deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her “Blue” crew.

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Press release, June 13, 2013; Image: US Navy

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