HMS Montrose Boarding Teams Finish NMIOTC
The combined Royal Marine and Royal Navy Boarding Teams of HMS Montrose have spent 4 days, operating out of the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Centre (NMIOTC) at Souda Bay, Crete. Putting their Standard Operating Procedures through a rigorous programme of tests and instructional periods to ensure that, as they near the Middle Eastern operating area, team members and the Ship can be confident in their capability and performance
Situated alongside the azure blue Mediterranean and surrounded by imposing mountains NMIOTC is the final stop for many vessels and their Embarked Forces prior to entering the Joint Operating Area that extends from Suez to the Persian Gulf. It provides both bespoke training packages as well as generic boarding scenarios and is an opportunity to gain some effective ‘one stop’ training.
NMIOTCs extremely capable staff are drawn from a variety of backgrounds and include Counter-terrorist Police (EKAM) and Greek Special Forces as well as their enhanced Boarding Teams.
They are used to impart real-life experiences and stimulate thought on the varying tactics that can be deployed and coming from such a varied background the wealth of knowledge is impressive and certainly encourages teams to test and adjust their own capability.
In addition the facilities are first rate with a new Fast-Rope Gantry located within the grounds whilst the HS Aris, a decommissioned Frigate is just a few minutes away by road and is utilised as a Close Quarter Battle platform.
Montrose chose to utilise a bespoke training package that allowed the Royal Marine and Royal Navy elements to focus on their individual tasks, with Royal Marines completing numerous clearance serials whilst Naval personnel focused on search techniques.
There were also some shared modules including a particularly interesting insight into Crew Psychology. Despite the intense training and high temperatures an opportunity for down time most evenings still existed with the exception of the RM elements who utilised the dark hours to continue their Tactical training. Good effort Royal.
Training came together in a Final Test Exercise on the last morning, a simulated Level 2 boarding on a non-compliant vessel with Royal Marine elements completing a clearance of the target vessel which allowed the Royal Navy search team to conduct an exploitation.
The scenario was designed to maximise the training benefit to both elements by utilising the full range of skills and drills and was well received all round.
The Ship’s Officer Commanding Royal Marines, Captain Chris Nightingale, whose men underwent the rigorous training said,
“This has been a good experience for everybody involved and a lot of effort has gone in to maximise the benefit of the training received. NMIOTC provides an excellent opportunity to work with other nations and compare and contrast SOPs in a fantastic environment with excellent facilities.
“If we take just one thing away and improve overall Operational effectiveness then it is time well spent.”
Royal Navy Boarding Officer, Lieutenant Dan Sercombe stated,
“Training at NMIOTC was both challenging and rewarding, combining a higher level of professional training with an opportunity to undertake acclimatisation in a new Operating Area. Overall it has been a hugely enriching experience.”
Press Release, September 17, 2013; Image: Royal Navy