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Supply Ships, Embarked Security Forces Ensure Smooth Sailing

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090227-29
Release Date: 2/27/2009 3:35:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/SW) Monique K. Hilley, Combined Task Force 151 Public Affairs

USNS LEWIS AND CLARK, At Sea (NNS) -- As part of Operation Vigilant Mariner, Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF) detachments embark noncombatants around the world, including supply ships like USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), to ensure safe passage for the ships and crews, protecting them from potentially hostile forces.

These security teams embark Maritime Sealift Command ships, like Lewis and Clark, during difficult passages and in a myriad theaters around the globe. The replenishment fleet can concentrate on keeping U.S. and coalition ships on station as these reinforced teams provide general security for the ships, specifically within the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

"With the embarked security team, the ship's captain is able to focus on the mission his ship has been assigned," said Chief Master-at-Arms Eric Richardson, officer-in-charge of the MESF Detachment aboard Lewis and Clark.

Maritime Sealift Command works with an army of Supply Corps professionals to support globally-engaged Navy assets with the essential items needed to execute their missions. This vital teamwork enables the core capabilities of the maritime strategy. Logistics support – food, fuel, supplies, ordnance and mail – is delivered world-wide to the global Navy, in part because of the efforts of MESF detachments.

"It is vital to the mission that the supply chain remains intact, and that is the service we provide," added Richardson.

Recently, Lewis and Clark joined Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, a multinational task force conducting counterpiracy missions in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. This temporarily redirected the ship's responsibility; however, the vigilant role of the security force remains unchanged.

"Our role does not change in that our primary focus still remains the protection of Lewis and Clark," explained Richardson. "Ultimately, we do not differentiate between the anti-piracy mission and Operation Vigilant Mariner. Our mission remains to provide security for the vessels we are embarked upon, and we at Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 3 Det. Bahrain provide this protection better than any naval security force in today's modern Navy."

Richardson said his and other embarked security teams board high-value assets to provide force protection to MSC vessels or contracted ships. Richardson's team is specifically supporting those assets operating in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

The training the security team receives enables it to provide top-notch force protection to high value ships and vessels as part of the global support to maritime security operations.

"We are the best trained security forces afloat," stated Richardson. "The Sailors attached to MSRON 3 Det. Bahrain are consistently on the leading edge of all force protection forces."

As part of its training, the team has completed Expeditionary Combat Skills training, which prepares them for all facets of security operations ranging from combat medical training, convoy and extensive weapons training ranging from small arms to crew-served weapons. They also receive training in when to fire warning shots, simulators, embarked platform training and rules of engagement training.

"With this training we are prepared for any mission we are assigned and can defend against any hostile force that would threaten the vessels we protect," added Richardson.

As part of the current mission, his embarked MESF team protects Lewis and Clark but also helps ensure safe passage throughout the region for all legitimate mariners, allowing commerce to flow freely throughout the world.

USNS Lewis and Clark is an asset of Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, a multinational task force conducting counterpiracy operations to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. CTF 151 was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.

For more news from Combined Task Force 151, visit

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