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Reliant Mermaid Kicks Off with USS O'Bannon, Israeli and Turkish Navies

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050112-10
Release Date: 1/12/2005 7:15:00 PM

From U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

ABOARD USS O'BANNON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors of USS O'Bannon (DD 987) joined Israeli and Turkish Sailors off the coast of Israel Jan. 12 in the annual search and rescue (SAR) exercise named Reliant Mermaid.

This seventh annual Reliant Mermaid exercise is particularly timely this year, as the life-saving skills and techniques being rehearsed are identical to ongoing tsunami rescue efforts along Indian Ocean coastlines. While Reliant Mermaid hones other skills for the Sailors, saving lives is at the forefront of this year's participants' minds.

"Our thoughts are with the victims of the recent tsunami," explained Lt. j.g. Garrett Gerland, O'Bannon's damage control assistant and search and rescue team leader. "Exercises like these will help us and the other countries participating be even better prepared to answer the bell if we're needed for SAR missions."

Leaders of the three participating navies held a joint press conference before getting under way, and they quickly pointed out the benefits of these exercises for operational proficiency when working together in the future.

"These exercises have improved communications between participating navies each year," said Capt. Avi Arzony, commander of the Israeli 3rd Flotilla. "Reliant Mermaid better positions us to provide swift, effective support to these types of humanitarian missions when called upon."

This year's exercise will include multiple SAR scenarios to challenge the seamanship, medical response and cooperation levels of everyone involved. The four-day exercise includes crew interaction opportunities, in-port exercises and drills, a full day and night under way jam-packed with multiple challenging evolutions, and exercise wrap-up meetings to improve on the training next year.

Cmdr. Troy A. Stoner, commanding officer of O'Bannon, pointed out the best way to achieve success in these exercises.

"We have studied lessons learned from past Reliant Mermaid exercises in efforts to make this year's exercise more beneficial and relevant than ever," Stoner added. "Every time we conduct these types of exercises, it improves our interoperability with participating navies; that naturally can serve as a deterrent for potential terrorists."

O'Bannon deployed from Mayport, Fla., in November 2004.



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