USS Gonzalez, Tanzanian Navy Team Up in VBSS Training

Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) and Tanzanian People’s Defence Force (TPDF) navy exchanged best practices and exercised techniques of maritime interdiction, June 6.

The military-to-military bilateral training event focused on the fundamentals of visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) through both classroom and hands-on training.

A 13-member boarding team from the TPDF navy embarked Gonzalez and practiced a non-compliant boarding scenario in which participants tactically boarded Gonzalez at sea.

The joint training was conducted to enhance the Tanzanian navy’s proficiencies in boarding vessels and strengthen regional maritime security. The event also served as an opportunity for partnership and cooperation between the two navies.

 “Today’s VBSS exercise with the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force navy was an excellent opportunity to interact with one of our partner nations in East Africa,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Gantt, Gonzalez’s executive officer. “Not only were we able to build on the technical skills required to conduct maritime security operations at sea, we furthered relationships between our Sailors and the partnership between our navies. It was a great day of training at sea.”

Tanzanian navy members approached and climbed aboard Gonzalez via the destroyer’s rigid hull inflatable boats as if the event were a real world boarding. Once aboard, the boarding team demonstrated professional teamwork as they swept the ship and successfully handled the training scenario.

TPDF navy personnel involved also felt that the combined training was exceptionally valuable.

 “Today was a great opportunity to learn new tactics, techniques and a different point of view,” said Maj. Patrick Sawala, lead training officer of the TPDF navy. “Today we were able to board a ship with a higher freeboard than we were previously used to. This was a very good experience for us.”

Many aboard Gonzalez benefited as well, as they trained alongside their counterparts and shared best practices.

 “This was a great experience for all of us,” said Lt. j.g. Cade Spivey, Gonzalez’s VBSS officer. “It’s great to interact and train with other navies and see what each other bring to the table.”

Gonzalez, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is on a scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of responsibility.

Press Release, June 11, 2013; Image: US Navy

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