Royal Moroccan Navy trains with US Navy cruiser

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U.S. and Royal Moroccan Navy vessels took part in cooperation exercises in Moroccan waters on May 5.

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) conducted maritime interdiction operations (MIO) and small boat defense procedures with Moroccan patrol vessel P306 RMNS Commandant El Harti.

MIOs have been a critical warfare area employed by the coalition navies. Throughout the last two decades, these operations have helped keep sea lanes clear of piracy and smuggling.

Recently, small boat attacks have become an increasing threat. On May 5, 2017, off the coast of Rabat, Morocco, Vella Gulf and Commandant El Harti participated in exercise Colibri Corsair which helped refine both crews’ skills in maritime interdiction and defense from small boat attacks.

Commandant El Harti conducted various training events to enhance their maritime interdiction experience. In a coordinated effort after the conclusion of Commandant El Harti’s boarding exercises, Vella Gulf employed small boat defense measures with Commandant El Harti acting as the small boat attacker.

After the small boat attack exercise was completed, Vella Gulf’s visit board search and seizure team boarded the Commandant El Harti and conducted training alongside the Moroccan boarding team.

“Today was our first exercise as a deployed unit. It was a pleasure to participate in exercises with the Royale Moroccan Navy.” said Capt. Mark Oberley, commanding officer of USS Vella Gulf. “I have mentioned before that Vella Gulf is crewed by steadfast professionals. Today their interactions and performance alongside our Moroccan partners has proven that.”

Vella Gulf is deployed as an independent unit in support of maritime security and ballistic missile defense operations in international waters across the globe.

The ship was commissioned Sept. 18, 1993, and is named after the decisive victory against the Japanese at Vella Gulf during the Solomon Islands Campaign of WWII.

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