PHILIPPINE SEA - The mine countermeasures ship USS Avenger (MCM 1) Sailors completed a series of Anti-terrorism Force Protection drills April 27.
The drills are designed to test the ship's ability to protect itself from potential threats while at anchor and in overseas ports. In addition to the ship's ability to withstand land-based, waterborne and airborne terrorist attacks.
Avenger's Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Sullivan said Sailors need to be able to respond effectively, as a team when they are given new scenarios that force them to make decisions on their feet.
"If running regular drills can prevent one incident like what happened to USS Cole, then it's all worth it," said Sullivan.
The day of force protection drills had Sailors scrambling up ladderwells and grabbing dummy weapons, as the ship’s 1MC announced, "Force protection alert, force protection alert!"
Ensign Harrison Yelverton, anti-terrorism watch officer, briefed Sailors in the bridge about the scenario - a low, slow-flying aircraft approaching the ship with unknown intentions.
"We continually train our shipboard reaction force using the latest methods," said Yelverton. "We don't run drills based on the most likely scenarios. We run drills for every possible scenario.
“No terrorist is going to ask us for permission before making an attack. They're going to get us where we're complacent, when we're comfortable and when we least expect it," Yelverton added.
Throughout the day the multiple drills tested the crew’s abilities to respond to multiple situations at once.
"In an actual terrorist attack, there will be a lot of confusion," said Mineman 3rd Class Joshua Sinnsheimer. "By drilling constantly, we're turning our reaction into muscle memory."
After the drill was finished and Sailors returned to their posts, the anti-terrorism watch officer reminded the crew one last time over the 1MC, "Remember: keep 360-degree vigilance."
Avenger is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.