Security Detachment Provides Protection in North Persian Gulf Waters
Story Number: NNS070808-03
Release Date: 8/8/2007 5:16:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher T. Smith, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
NORTH PERSIAN GULF (NNS) -- Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 5 Oil Platform (OPLAT) Detachment provided security for USS Chinook (PC 9) and USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams while conducting Interaction Patrols (IPATS) Aug. 5 in the north Persian Gulf.
NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det.’s mission is to protect VBSS teams while they are maintaining security in the region’s shallow waters.
“We assist in Maritime Security Operations (MSO), in particular, in the shallow water region of the area,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Merrill, Inshore Boat Unit (IBU) 51 officer in charge. “Using our patrol craft, we provide a 360-degree ring of security around boarding teams as they board commercial vessels.”
VBSS and IPATS are elements of MSO that help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the coalition's efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.
Sailors assigned to IBU 51 and IBU 52 comprise NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. and provide security that larger vessels can’t offer. He added that the Sailors’ mission is significant because it enhances the capabilities of the coalition.
NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. also assists in the training of Iraqi marines.
“We simulate an opposition force for the Iraqi marines who are training to one day take over the defense of the oil platforms,” said Merrill. “We act as a vessel that may be conducting surveillance of the oil platforms or rapidly approaching the platforms. We play the bad guy, so to speak.”
Merrill explained that the IBU 51 and IBU 52 Sailors serving in NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det. were hand picked for the mission.
Gunner’s Mate Seaman Justin Headley said he looks forward to working with them on a daily basis.
“Although we sometimes work long hours, and the heat starts to get to you, I enjoy what I’m doing because I enjoy the people I work with,” said Headley. “When you have a good core group of people working with you, the job is much easier, even when you’re not working in ideal conditions.”
NCWRON 5 OPLAT Det., based out of San Diego, has been supporting MSO in the north Persian Gulf for more than two months. The squadron’s standard mission is to provide harbor security and protection for high value maritime infrastructure.
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