PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) conducted a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training exercise with sailors from Chilean Navy Frigate CNS Almirante Cochrane (FF 05) and sailors from Indian Navy Shivalik-class stealth frigate INS Satpura (F48), July 14.
The exercise was part of Rim of the Pacific 2016, the world's largest international maritime exercise held in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. RIMPAC is a unique opportunity for nations to build and foster strong relationships.
VBSS is a maritime boarding tactic used by the military to counter terrorism, piracy and smuggling to maintain safety on the world's oceans. Teams are either invited to board a ship by the ship's master or they board the ship without consent to search the ship for illegal cargo or narcotics and to verify that the vessel is involved in the activities they say they are conducting.
Sailors from the Shoup's VBSS teams conducted a compliant boarding on Satpura while Sailors from Cochrane VBSS team boarded Shoup. The teams were invited to board each other's vessels via bridge-to-bridge communication.
"It is very important to work closely like this with other countries because you never know what Navy you will be working with in the future," said Lt. j.g. Zachary Bessette, Shoup's VBSS boarding officer. "It's good to build this good working relationship and rapport with them now."
Once on board the respective vessels, Sailors met with the crew, searched the ship, verified their documents and logs and interviewed the ship's master and engineer.
"Boarding a foreign vessel was very interesting and exciting," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Brett Viney, a member of Shoup's VBSS team. "The Indian sailors were extremely nice and hospitable."
Viney said it was a great chance to gain insight on how other navies operate and realize just how similar they are to the U.S. Navy.
Not only does an opportunity like this help foster relationships that make our Navy more effective in the long run but, it gives Sailors experience that routine training cannot provide.
"Our normal training is done with in a classroom; it is rare that we get the opportunity to go out and actually board other ships, so it was great to gain this experience," said Bessette.
There are obstacles in real-life scenarios that cannot be replicated.
Bessette said they spoke English but that it was broken and hard to understand so the team had to deal with getting over a language barrier. He also noted how difficult it was to transit the ship without having a real understanding of the ship's layout.
Doing something like this with another country better prepares Sailors on the VBSS team for what they will actually experience if they have to do this in a real-life scenario.
"We got the chance to experience what it's like to really have to work on asking the right questions to overcome the barriers and know how an actual boarding of a vessel would likely happen," said Viney.
This is an excellent training opportunity for all countries involved. Not only that, it helps strengthen the relationships between these nations by allowing the Sailors to relate to each other and change or shape their view on each other.
"I think we all performed very well today, everyone remained professional and courteous," said Viney. "I think we left a lasting positive influence on the way the other navies see us."
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