USS NEW ORLEANS, At sea -- Sailors aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) participated in a series of Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) exercises, Dec. 5 as the ship continued on its current deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
The quarterly training required Sailors to man a simulated entry control point (ECP) and identify potential threats to the ship.
These were the first AT/FP exercises of New Orleans' now three-week-old deployment, and required participation from each of the ship's duty sections to test Sailors reactions to different situations.
"All the duty sections will go through these drills and put this training into action," said Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) 1st Class Benjamin Myers, a member of the AT/FP training team.
Marines of the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) were used as role players in an attempt to make the situations as real as possible for the Sailors undergoing the training.
Scenarios included the Marine role players attempting to board the ship without proper identification, and trying to penetrate the ECP with a simulated improvised explosive device.
"I like to have the mentality of 'when' it's going to happen, not 'if,'" said Chief Master-at-Arms Edward Mendoza, AT/FP training team coordinator. "It keeps your mindset more alert and I try to give that mentality to the watchstanders because my priority is the safety of the ship. We need to make sure we can protect it."
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Benoit Cisneros, who took part in the drills, said the training offered realistic scenarios.
"The likelihood of someone trying to come on the ship that forgot his or her ID or trying to use someone else's is very realistic," he said. "Some of the scenarios are not uncommon, so it's good we all have the same level of training so we know how to respond."
New Orleans is assigned to Amphibious Squadron 5, commanded by Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla II, and along with embarked 11th MEU Marines, the ship is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group.
Commissioned in 2007, New Orleans is the second of the San Antonio-class transport dock ships. Its warfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the littoral environment.
The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.
More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.