SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) conducted visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
VBSS emerged after the initial Gulf War as a measure to support continued maritime interdiction operations imposed by United Nations resolutions. Today's VBSS training covers areas such as tactical team movements, self-defense tactics, boarding tactics, climbing and repelling techniques, and more.
The training is conducted as part of continued efforts to protect international waters from global issues such as piracy, human trafficking and drug trafficking.
"Serving on a VBSS team is an exciting and challenging experience,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Michael Matthews. “It gives Sailors an opportunity to practice performing our duties in a potentially stressful situation."
This training gives members of the team the opportunity to engage in several different simulated security situations to ensure their skill sets stay sharp in the event that the ship is actually called upon to participate in real life maritime interdiction operations.
Many Navy rates make up the backbone of the Germantown VBSS crew including gunner’s mates, enginemen, electrician’s mates, quartermasters and boatswain's mates.
The 15 members of the VBSS team were able to bring a small boat alongside USS Tortuga (LSD 46) to conduct a latter climb and practice how they would actually board a vessel in a real life situation.
"It was great getting to board another ship,” said Lt.j.g. Brandon Blackford, Germantown’s boarding officer. “We were able to identify potential flaws in our boarding procedures in conjunction with building camaraderie with our fellow warriors on the Tortuga."
This was the first underway training evolution the team participated in since last year’s exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), where Germantown's VBSS team was able to practice boarding procedures with VBSS team members from the Royal Malaysian navy.
“Our boarding team members are first rate and they continue to improve with every evolution,” said Blackford. “Although, VBSS is not our primary mission, the Sailors we have here are qualified, dedicated and ready to accomplish the mission when Germantown is called upon.”