US Coast Guard, Royal Navy conduct VBSS drill in Bahrain

The U.S. Coast Guard maritime engagement team (MET) and the Royal Navy from HMS Portland (FS 79) recently carried out a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) exercise at a training site in Bahrain.

The exercise was held between July 26- 27 aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain which included a Ship-in-the-Box (SIB) and a dhow facility.

“The MET-led engagement focuses on sharing best practices, improving joint interoperability and developing common skills that strengthen maritime security across all forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations,” a U.S. naval forces communique said.

“These engagements serve as a baseline to ensure that the United States and our partner nation naval forces are trained, organized, and equipped to support U.S. Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, and national security objectives,” said Commander of Patrol Force Southwest Asia Coast Guard’s (PATFORSWA), Capt. James Driscoll. “They further encourage interoperability between partner nations and ensure that the predominant trends in smuggling are disseminated to all cooperating forces.”

The MET facilities provide an immersive simulation of a reproduction of an offshore VBSS situation for U.S. and partner nations to utilize for effective cross-force training. The SIB facility, where over 100 engagements in the last six years have been conducted, is a three-storied, 3000-square foot training facility used to develop close-quarter techniques.

The dhow facility is a 60-foot dhow replicate with over 20 hidden compartments used to train personnel with a realistic approach to VBSS operations.

MET was originally established as the Middle East Training Team in 2005. The exchange of information has evolved since then to become more mission compatible and reflect the current trends required to remain proficient at the VBSS mission. MET does this through security cooperation engagement on maritime law enforcement techniques with partner forces.