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USS O'Kane Conducts Approach Operations in Persian Gulf

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070423-05
Release Date: 4/23/2007 11:51:00 AM

From USS O’Kane Public Affairs

USS O'KANE, At sea (NNS) -- While operating in the central Persian Gulf, Sailors from USS O’Kane (DDG 77) are conducting "approach operations" as a way to reassure mariners and merchants that coalition forces are helping to provide security and stability in the region.

Approach operations are one of the missions that comprise maritime security operations (MSO) and focus on putting a friendly face on the coalition’s mission in the region. MSO helps to deter illegal activities on the high seas, as well as reassure mariners that coalition forces are operating in the region to ensure the sea-lanes remain open and are safe to navigate.

“Our mission out here is threefold: We want to make our presence known, render assistance if need be, and create a friendly environment with the locals,” said Ensign Thomas Scazzafavo, one of O’Kane’s boarding officers. “By sending a small team in the RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat), we are able to appear less intimidating."

As the RHIB pulls alongside a fishing vessel, Scazzafavo introduces himself to the dhow’s master. After a few more minutes of low-key conversation, the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team gives the master a bag of fruit, a medical kit and contact information for coalition forces.

"If we go out and make just one dhow’s crew feel comfortable and build their trust in the coalition and its mission, then our job has been a success,” said Scazzafavo. “In the long run, we will build a network of support that will prove to be beneficial.”

With a "shukran" (thank you), "ma’a salaama" (good-bye), a wave and a smile, O’Kane’s VBSS Team hopes their quick visit is a success, with the dhow’s master and crew smiling and feeling reassured that the coalition is in the area to help.

“O’Kane has embraced the mission to build regional stability,” said Cmdr. James Duke, O’Kane’s commanding officer. “I am very proud of the boarding team’s performance. The mission is very important to ensuring a stable and secure maritime environment in the gulf region.”

O’Kane has been in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility since late February, conducting MSO as a member of Combined Task Force (CTF) 152. CTF 152, comprised of coalition and the U.S. Navy, conducts MSO in the central and southern Arabian Gulf. CTF 152’s mandate is to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region.

MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

O’Kane left her homeport of Pearl Harbor on Jan. 26 on a regularly scheduled deployment as part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group.

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