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USS Mesa Verde Sailors Conduct VBSS Training with Croatian, Slovenian Navies

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS141007-27
Release Date: 10/7/2014 8:54:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon M. Smith

SPLIT, Croatia (NNS) -- Sailors from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) participated in joint training for visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) procedures with members of the Croatian and Slovenian navies during a scheduled port visit to Split, Croatia Oct. 7.

The team demonstrated some techniques and gave a ship tour to the Slovenian and Croatian military members aboard Mesa Verde before moving to the Croatian ship HMR Cetina (DBM-81) in Croatian rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIB) for a series of pre-planned scenarios.

The American, Croatian and Slovenian teams performed an integrated boarding via ladder, but also individually demonstrated standard operating procedures for situations such as clearing corners and rooms aboard the ship and finding an undisclosed weapon.

'It's very important for us to do training with foreign nations, especially in this way because we work with them on multiple different platforms, in terms of ships, and in different evolutions,' said Lt. j.g. Djuan Wilcher, Mesa Verde's force protection officer. 'So it's important for us to be able to establish a baseline of our training so that our interoperability will be easier in the event we have to work together for a real time mission.'

Slovenian navy First Lieutenant Grega Tusar, executive officer of the Slovenian ship FPS Ankaran 21, said he enjoyed seeing training being put into practice.

'It was a terrific opportunity for us, we saw tactics and dynamics from the group that worked this way before on merchant vessels,' said Tusar. 'We find out that some things that we were taught are different in reality than you do it in exercise.'

Participants said the interaction between countries was useful because each group provided a different perspective and experiences. Although many of the procedures were similar, they said they also got to see areas where some techniques differed.

'If we are deployed somewhere, we know that our procedures are the same or in principle the same,' said Tusar. 'And then we can adopt other tactics, other things and now I see that the Americans can adopt ours, we can adopt theirs, so I think this is a really good privilege (to see).'

In addition to the training provided, the experience was also valuable as an opportunity for individuals from around the world to interact with one another.

'It's important for them to see us in both the professional sense and the personal sense,' said Wilcher. 'So with this training evolution they were able to get both, from the training time to the break time, where we were able to talk and mingle with them to get to know one another. They got to know who an American is and how we are.'

Mesa Verde is a part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

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