Story Number: NNS090703-17
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Tiffani Paredes, PCU Makin Island Public Affairs
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- Makin Island (LHD 8) passed its first security force assessment June 20 with a final proficiency score topping 97 percent.
The command was required to complete the assessment in order to become Anti-Terrorism Force Protection (ATFP) certified.
The ATFP certification is one of the major certifications the crew must have to sail away for their future homeport of San Diego. The ATFP certification confirms that Makin Island can defend itself in both foreign and domestic ports – a critical competency in today's environment.
A team from Afloat Training Group (ATG) conducted a weeklong visit to test the strength of Makin Island's anti-terrorism infrastructure and how well its security force can assess itself.
During the first three days, watchstanders practiced anti-terrorism tactics in various scenarios, during which ATG and the command's Anti Terrorist Training Team (ATTT) could still lend advice and provide last-minute training. ATG, with Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and Commander LHA/LHD/LPD Class Squadron observers, then spent the final part of the week formally evaluating both ATTT and the watchstanders, who had to respond to all scenarios without ATTT's assistance. Small boat attack, pier surveillance and light aircraft attack were some common scenarios. Watch teams were evaluated based on communication, technical knowledge and weapons handling.
Leaders said certain aspects of the evaluation stood out. The command earned a perfect score on administration, management and personnel.
"[ATG] told us our score was higher than most ships get that have been operational and that it was pretty amazing for a [pre-commissioning unit] to have 100 percent of their admin good-to-go. What contributed to this was the hard work and dedication to success of all of the ATTT members at every level on the team," said Makin Island's Assistant ATFP Officer, Lt. j.g. Jonathan Allmond.
Makin Island's ATFP Officer, Lt. Hernán Luis y Prado, praised the crew's solid support of all logistical concerns, including communications, gear issue and even meals.
"They've pulled together like I've never seen in another crew," said Luis y Prado. "The entire ship has rallied together, and I appreciate their assistance."
The drills were a culmination of three months of security force training. Since Makin Island's April delivery to the U.S. Navy, the training team's biggest challenge was to train the security force to work together despite their previous geographical separation. Previously, the crew had been split between San Diego and Pascagoula. But with consistent training and mentorship, ATTT established an AT program the entire command could build on into the future.
"We are laying the groundwork for future Sailors that are going to be on board this ship," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Matthew Muravez, who frequently stood watch as a chief of the guard throughout the assessment. "Right now, everything we do will be the concrete layout of everything that will happen in the next 10, 20, 30 years for this entire crew and future crews to come."
The Makin Island crew is working and living aboard the ship while preparing for sail-away when they will transit around South America to their future homeport of San Diego, where the ship is scheduled to be commissioned Oct. 24.
For more news from PCU Makin Island, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8.