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"Flexible" Grasp Recovers Special Operations Gear During Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070518-16
Release Date: 5/18/2007 4:26:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eddie D. Harrison, Joint Forces Maritime Component Command Europe Public Affairs

USNS GRASP, At Sea (NNS) -- Executing an innovative plan designed to maximize the effectiveness of exercise training, salvage ship USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51) played a vital role May 14 during Exercise Flexible Leader 07.

Participating in the live portion to the normally computer-based exercise, Grasp crew members showed their expertise by recovering valuable equipment and parachutes during a Maritime Craft Air Delivery System (MCADS) drop. The exercise included the release of Naval Special Warfare 11-meter rigid inflatable boats and personnel from two C-130s into the Atlantic Ocean.

The MCADS is an airdrop insertion capability that allows Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) to rapidly deploy anywhere in a maritime environment.

Flexible Leader 07 is a joint exercise designed to conduct scenario-based training to increase speed and cohesiveness when standing up a joint forces maritime component command (JFMCC) in direct support of Commander Naval Forces Europe/Commander U.S. 6th Fleet strategic priority to respond to any contingency. Special Operations Command Europe, USS Kauffman (FFG 59) and the 6th Fleet command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) also participated in the live exercise.

Grasp served as a transportation and extraction platform for the water drop zone surface support personnel and equipment used in the retrieval portion of the exercise.

“This is exactly what the Navy designed us to do,” said Grasp civilian Master Jose Delfause. “We are designed to put boats in the water and to take them out.”

When involved in an exercise that takes a great deal of precision, the crew must be prepared. For some, this unique opportunity to work with elite Naval Special Operations Forces was a first.

“It is hard for a guy who has never sailed, but even a lot of veterans had never seen this,” said Grasp civilian deckhand Andy Vogelheim. “There is so much to learn here and so much to see. Every job is a challenge not just for the ship but the whole crew.”

The crew was extremely proud of accomplishing the mission without any malfunctions and supporting CNE-C6F and Naval Special Operations Forces.

“Everything went as planned and everyone made it back safely, so there is a feeling of great achievement,” said Grasp civilian Chief Mate James Morrissey.”

Grasp is one of Military Sealift Command’s three rescue salvage ships and is part of the 39 ships in the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force.

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