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Mason, Ponce Conduct VBSS Exercise

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110228-16

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffry A. Willadsen

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) and amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15) conducted a joint visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training exercise in the Red Sea, Feb. 18.

VBSS teams from each ship used the other as a simulated enemy vessel, practicing tactical maneuvering through passageways, suspect apprehension and transport, and searching personnel and spaces for weapons and contraband.

Each VBSS team observed and supervised how the other team equipped themselves with protective gear and unloaded weapons, and how they boarded and conducted various tasks. They also took turns as acting as simulated enemies.

Since preserving realism was paramount, special attention was given to details, such as the treatment of mock enemy detainees and the safety of exercise participants.

"It really adds realism when you climb onto a rigid hulled inflatable boat, actually board another ship, and carry weapons just as we would during the real thing," said Gunners Mate 1st Class Miguel Carino, leading petty officer of Mason's VBSS team. "We train like we fight, and exercises like this really hold true to that."

"Training like this is very important, especially with piracy increasing off the eastern coast of Africa," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Adam Goss, a Mason VBSS team leader. "Being able to work with VBSS members from another ship really helped make the training more effective."

The exercise was a product of a partnership between Mason, part of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, and Ponce, assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group 5.

Ponce is part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

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