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CENTCOMNEWS RELEASE
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill AFB, Fla. 33621-5101
Phone: (813) 827-5894; FAX: (813) 827-2211; DSN 651-5894

November 16, 2005
Release Number: 05-11-77


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


ESG-1 CONDUCTS MARITIME SECURITY OPERATIONS IN ARABIAN SEA

AT SEA ABOARD USS CLEVELAND IN THE ARABIAN SEA— Members of Expeditionary Strike Group One (ESG-1) are currently leading a group of six coalition ships conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. The strike group’s flagship, USS Tarawa (LHA-1) and the amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland (LPD-7) are joined by the guided missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79). The French ships Var (FS-608) and Lafayette (FS-710), and the Pakistani frigate Badr (PNS-181) round out the coalition task group.

MSO are part of ESG-1’s regularly scheduled deployment to the 5th Fleet area of operations. The ships, currently assigned to Task Force 150 led by French Vice Adm. Jacques Mazars, seek to preserve the free and secure use of the world’s oceans by legitimate mariners, and prevent terrorists from attempting to use the maritime environment as a venue for attack or as a medium to transport personnel, weapons or other illicit material.

“The focus is on gathering information that links to the Global War on Terrorism,” said Lt. Cmdr. (RAN) Darren Rushworth, future operations planner for Amphibious Squadron One (CPR-1), the task group commander. “The illegal smuggling means that funds are being created. Where does that money go, that is the link. There is also a link in terms of people smuggling, and we can find out where they are going and what they are doing.”

Intercepting illegal smuggling that supports terrorism is only part of the mission, says Capt. Dave Clopp, the assistant chief of staff for operations for ESG-1. The operations and intelligence staffs of ESG-1 and CPR-1 are compiling a comprehensive database, looking for patterns in the maritime traffic in these waters.

“We’re developing a baseline on what to expect out here on a given day, and once we have that baseline we can see what looks out of the ordinary,” Clopp said.

Assisted by coalition maritime patrol aircraft, SH-60B Seahawk helicopters staged from Tarawa, and the Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), operated from Cleveland, the ships seek to set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment by monitoring maritime traffic, performing routine queries of vessels, and conducting Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations when warranted.

“The response to the query can generate suspicion,” Rushworth said. “But mainly we want to spread the word that we’re out here for their safety and their security, that we’re looking for terrorists.”

Rushworth added that the boarding teams distribute bottled water and other essentials to crewmembers of the fishing and cargo boats. If a dhow or other vessel is in distress, the coalition ships provide assistance when possible.
“They’ve actually been excited to see us,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Michael Greene, a member of one of Cleveland’s boarding teams. “One of the boats we boarded had a transmission problem. We gave them some lube oil, food and water, and our engineers gave them advice on their problem. All the guys on the team are eager to be doing something hands-on with the effort. Any way we can help, makes a difference.”

MSO in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman represent just one major effort ESG-1 forces are currently engaged in. Rear Adm. Michael A. LeFever, Commander of ESG-1, and nearly half his staff are in Islamabad, Pakistan, providing command and control of the U.S. military’s Disaster Assistance Center there. USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52) and USS Chosin (CG-65) are in the North Arabian Gulf helping to protect the integrity of Iraqi territorial waters as well as helping to defend Iraq’s oil terminals, which are significant sources of Iraq’s revenue. The guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) and the frigate USS Ingraham (FFG-61) are also assigned to Task Force 150 conducting MSO.

“We’re in four different places, doing four different missions at the same time,” said Clopp. “It definitely shows the agility of the ESG. We are able to conduct multiple missions at once.”

For more information contact Expeditionary Strike Group ONE Public Affairs Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Ron Flanders by email at pao@cesg1.navy.mil.

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