USS New York Conducts Simulated Boardings During COMPTUEX

December 21st, 2011

Filed under: Crews News,News — admin @ 9:03 am

Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jamica Johnson, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs

USS New York, At sea (NNS) — The amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), boarded two vessels, one compliant and one non-compliant, during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Dec. 14.

New York is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), including Amphibious Squadron 8, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).

COMPTUEX is a major requirement for the ARG pre-deployment certification that evaluates an ARG’s ability to deploy and conduct major combat operations, with New York focusing heavily on maritime security and ensuring their team is prepared for anything.

“We take Sailors from the ship and train them to assist in maritime security operations,” said New York Operations Officer Lt. Rebecca Domzalski, from Great Quarters, S.C. “Essentially we are taking those Sailors, placing them on a small dhow and other boats on the high seas. Once aboard, they check for smuggled weapons, illicit drugs and human trafficking in accordance with international laws and enforcing U.N. sanctions.”

Both Navy Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) and Marine Expanded Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (EVBSS) teams carried out various training scenarios, with both compliant and non-compliant mariners.

“The difference between VBSS and EVBSS – EVBSS is more of a tactical mission. VBSS is used for vessels that are compliant and don’t mind us coming on board to search,” said Domzalski. “EVBSS is for those vessels that don’t want to be boarded, for example, the piracy operations, where the pirates take the vessel and refuse to stop, so our forces that are more experienced tactically go aboard.”

Although the primary mission of the VBSS team is searching for wrongdoers, while deployed, they are also tasked with the objective of building positive relationships and promoting peace.

“VBSS teams must be prepared for various situations. One mission specific to a certain region is the Approach and Assist Visit (AAV),” said Domzalski. “AAV is where they go to boats in the area and talk to people in the vicinity. They shake hands, see if there is any information. They try and build good relations.”

New York and her crew are both new to the open seas and the deployment challenges that await them. COMPTUEX is a transition exercise designed to bring ships into real-life scenarios.

“Our VBSS team is made up of both experienced and inexperienced people, some who have never deployed before,” said Domzalski. “The guys were given a lot of in-scenario missions because they need to get used to walking on to a vessel and seeing what it’s going be like and talk to people in character and deal with language barriers.”

The team progressed through different levels of training. From the bottom, where they experienced proper boarding techniques, to more advanced levels of training, where they dealt with a prize crew by assuming command of the vessel and driving it to the next port.

“We were tasked with two operations yesterday, counter piracy and escort ops,” said Ensign Jeremy Wellens, VBSS team Boarding Officer. “The first was a counterpiracy mission, where a motor vessel was attacked by four small boats and in that situation, our mere presence was enough for the boats to stand down. The second we found illicit materials on board, and at that point, the boat was seized.

“The lesson my team and I learned was, there is no one way to do something,” said Wellens. “In the situations we face, we have to trust our instincts.”

The Iwo Jima ARG is currently underway for COMPTUEX with a scheduled deployment in spring 2012.

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Marines train to capture vessels at sea

December 8th, 2011

Filed under: News — admin @ 6:30 pm

12/7/2011 By 24th MEU Public Affairs Office, 24th MEU

USNS ARCTIC — In September 2010, Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit boarded the cargo vessel Magellan Star to reclaim it from pirates in the Gulf of Aden – the mission was a success.

In order to handle similar threats, Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit spent Dec. 4-7 training to capture vessels from enemy forces during three simulated Expanded Visit, Board, Search and Seizure, missions on the USNS Arctic.

Called VBSS for short, the mission is focused on gaining control of vessels while underway at sea that may be under control of pirates or suspected of smuggling weapons. The ‘expanded’ version of VBSS combines the ability to board a vessel simultaneously by using helicopter and boat.

Flight Ops USS Artic with USS New York trailing

Marines and Sailors of the 24th MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Platoon and Security Element, Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, have been taking part in an extensive training package to prepare and certify them to conduct VBSS missions. This exercise was the first chance the Marines were able to execute a full-scale mission onto another vessel while at sea.

The unique ability added by fast roping – basically sliding down a rope from a hovering helicopter onto the ship’s deck – gives the Marines flexibility and confuses the uncooperative personnel on the target vessel.

“Expanded VBSS masses forces and creates a dilemma to the person on board that’s trying to defend against us,” said Capt. Patrick Madden, the Force Reconnaissance platoon commander. “We come aboard, maintain an initial foothold on the vessel, seize the bridge, seize the engine room … at the end of the day our goal is to board the noncompliant vessel and make it compliant.”

In each EVBSS mission, Marines traveled from the USS Iwo Jima via helicopter and USS New York using Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to board the USNS Arctic, which was labeled as a weapon’s smuggling ship for an insurgent faction in a fictional country. Once aboard the Marines stalked room to room with those from the helicopter clearing top to bottom, while those boarding via boats cleared bottom to top, all while under the evaluation of instructors, according to Madden.

During the missions, Marines faced a variety of scenarios including finding suspected weapons caches and hostile pirates. Role players also acted as friendly civilian crew and hostile enemy forces, the latter often hiding in the ship’s dark crevasses.

“The intent for using role players is to provide an extra training aid. They provide the Marines the human aspect of the training. Some of the guys will have guns, some of the guys will be hostile, some of the guys will be clean, they don’t know,” said Sgt. Christopher Whited, a VBSS instructor with Special Operations Training Group, the Marine Corps’ training cadre responsible for preparing a MEU for specific missions like VBSS before they deploy.

Some of the hostile role players had something extra in store for the Marines as they boarded – live paintball rounds that sting on impact and burst showing that a Marine has been shot. Such close quarters tactics were perfected prior to embarking on ship.

“They did a five week shooting package that taught them to become super proficient with their weapons,” Carpenter said. “When you’re on ship, all these lines and all these gas hoses mean something. So when you shoot, you want to hit the target.”

The VBSS force was also tested in its abilities to care for, and evacuate, casualties that were assessed in the lower decks of the ship, properly handle detainees and effectively search the ship for evidence.

As the 24th MEU prepares for its deployment next year, they are taking to heart the lessons learned from the 15th MEU and from their extensive training because the piracy threat continues throughout regions of the world they will deploy to.

“Piracy is a real-world threat,” said Capt. Robert Carpenter, the senior instructor for VBSS with the Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “Piracy is happening more than the average American knows about.”

The VBSS training is a smaller part of Composite Training Unit Exercise, scheduled to take place Nov. 28 to Dec. 21. COMPTUEX is meant to test the 24th MEU and Amphibious Squadron 8 (PHIBRON 8) in conducting various missions they could face while deployed. The exercise is focused on building cohesion between the 24th MEU and PHIBRON 8 in conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations while operating from the sea.
Orig Article here

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Amphibious Squadron 8 Gets Underway for COMPTUEX Aboard USS New York

December 3rd, 2011

Filed under: Crews News,News — admin @ 5:30 pm

Ships led by the Commander of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8, USS Iwo Jima, (LHD 7), USS New York (LPD 21) USS Gunston Hall (LSD 41), in conjunction with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, got underway for their composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), Nov. 29.

COMPTUEX is a major requirement for the Amphibious Ready Group pre-deployment certification that evaluates an ARG’s ability to deploy and conduct major combat operations. It is designed to train the ship, embarked air wing and other units that make up the ARG to function as one highly effective fighting force. Evaluators from Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic will ensure the strike group’s units are exercised in all warfare areas.

“This COMPTUEX is basically a dress rehearsal for deployment, where everyone in the amphibious ready group gets underway with a coordinated schedule of events with the Marines,” said Command Master Chief Raphael Perez, a native of New York. “During the exercise we simulate various missions at a rapid level so we can be ready for anything we might encounter on our upcoming 2012 deployment.”

New York is now in their advanced level of operational training. During the exercise, the crew will showcase their ability to handle multiple surface and air contacts, visit, board, search and seizure operations, as well as simultaneous well deck and flight deck operations.

“I have high expectations for my crew during this exercise. We have undergone months of training, starting at the most basic levels of safety and gradually intergrating more difficult techniques and missions. Throughout the training process we repeatedly executed scenarios, polishing the cannon ball if you will, so we are ready when the country calls on us,” said Perez.

COMPTUEX got underway with the successful execution of the sea and anchor detail in conjunction with wet well operations.

“Today was a tough day to get underway, with the rain and bad weather,” said Perez. “However, the crew handled both sea and anchor and bringing our LCACs (landing craft air cushion) on successfully and safely. I think it set a very good tone for the underway, and as long as we continue to operate at this level of professionalism, it will be a very smooth and safe underway.”


With the holidays around the corner being underway can prove challenging, but Perez is confident in his crew’s ability to stay focused on the task at hand.

“I’m proud of the crew up to this point,” said Perez. “I know they are looking forward to completing the exercise and getting on to the holidays with their families, but they understand the importance of obtaining our qualifications and being deployment ready.”

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jamica Johnson, Amphibious Squadron 8 Public Affairs

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The future USS New York LPD-21 under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ shipyard in Avondale, LA, will be the fifth amphibious transport dock of the San Antonio class. The ship was named New York after the state and incorporates in its construction steel salvaged from the World Trade Centers. Her ship motto is "Never Forget." "We're very proud that the twisted steel from the WTC towers will soon be used to forge an even stronger national defense," New York Gov. George Pataki spoke in 2002. "The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of Sept. 11 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed.” This will be the seventh U.S. ship named New York.

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