By Lt. Richard Zamberlan, USS Momsen Public Affairs
(NNS) -- The guided missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92) arrived at Male, Maldives, Nov. 18, to work with the island nation's coast guard in improving maritime domain awareness (MDA) within the country's vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Maldives, a small country of 400,000 people, is a group of island atolls that stretches for hundreds of miles in the Indian Ocean. With a land area roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C., it has more than 400 miles of shoreline and a vast EEZ.
"The government of the Maldives asked for our support in improving their ability to conduct maritime domain awareness," said the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Jay D. Wylie. "This is the first time Momsen has visited the Maldives, but the welcome we received on arrival was fantastic, and this crew is excited to be here."
"As a remote Indian Ocean nation, the Maldives face a variety of maritime threats to include piracy, illegal trafficking and illegal fishing," Wylie said. "This week we're working with the [Maldivian] coast guard on maritime surveillance and information sharing, which will enhance security in the Indian Ocean region."
Prior to the ship's arrival in the Maldives, three Maldivian coast guard officers and enlisted embarked Momsen for one day at sea, learning about U.S. Navy operations and how Momsen conducts surveillance of contacts of interest. Momsen anchored off Kudos Bandos Island on the 19th, and during the week U.S. Sailors and Maldivian coast guardsmen are conducting subject matter expert exchanges on MDA aspects such as: contact vessel reporting; information sharing and communication procedures; picket boat operations; and shipboard operations.
Ashore, U.S. Sailors are interacting with residents of the Maldives through community service projects at local schools, a sports day event with the Maldives coast guard, and organized social events throughout the visit.
"It is an honor to be part of something that is much bigger than us, and ultimately helping to combat terrorism. It is a great experience to interact with the Maldivians and improve maritime security," said Chief Hull Technician (SW) John Parkin.
Momsen is the first U.S. Navy ship to visit the Maldives since USS Dubuque (LPD 8) visited in early 2010.
Momsen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, and patrols the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Operating in the western Pacific and Indian oceans, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 60 ships, 200 aircraft and 40,000 Sailors and Marines at any given time.
For more news from Commander Task Force 73, visit www.navy.mil/local/clwp/.