Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gregory A. Harden II, NPASE Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific (FASTPAC) began visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) exercises with Sailors aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), May 7.
The joint VBSS exercises are designed to improve operability and coordination of the Navy-Marine Corps team.
Marine Chief Warrant Officer Randolph Mann, executive officer of FASTPAC 1st Platoon, said the goal of the VBSS exercise is to enhance the working relationship between the Marines of FASTPAC and Curtis Wilbur Sailors.
“VBSS is a required skill for both services and serves as a great platform to establish a common baseline of knowledge,” Mann said. “This will enable more effective and efficient communication if the need would arise to employ FASTPAC in the VBSS role.”
In the scenario, Curtis Wilbur Sailors portrayed opposing forces attempting to board the ship while in a foreign port.
Ensign Taylor Hamilton, VBSS team boarding officer on board Curtis Wilbur, said this training is critical for both the Marine Corps and Navy in the event that a Navy vessel is seized and required immediate assistance.
“This type of training is a great hands-on opportunity for Marines, especially when a number of them have never been on a ship before,” said Hamilton. “Allowing the Marines to familiarize themselves with what to expect while boarding an actual ship helps them to understand how to properly search, seize and secure spaces.”
During the exercise, Marines simulated a fast rope insertion, conducted various VBSS movements and procedures, and established pier side security to assist Curtis Wilbur until departure.
“This was our first time to train together as a platoon on a real ship,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew Vergara. “Just by looking at the schematics of a ship you may not know how to properly assess the situation until you are inside.”
Vergara continued on by saying the training was very helpful and that he looks forward to future training opportunities aboard other afloat platforms.
Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team companies maintain forward-deployed platoons at Navy installations around the world to provide crises response capabilities and anti-terrorism and weapons training to security personnel.
Curtis Wilbur is part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, in support of regional security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.