NATO Trains Boarding Teams

DefenseMediaNetwork has a story about how Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) training is being done at a NATO facility in Souda Bay, Greece, on the Island of Crete. The only reference to the US Coast Guard is identification of an individual in one of the photos as a USCG officer, but I suspect the Coast Guard was involved in developing the course.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation to me was that they have a vessel dedicated to the training.

“…the 2,500-ton ex-HS Aris (A 74), formerly the Hellenic Naval Academy cadet training ship, serves as a realistic platform for live training for a variety of boarding scenarios. The ship is equipped with smoke, flashing strobes, booby traps, noise to create confusion, and role players to be rescued, detained or captured. Trainees use weapons that fire small paint pellet rounds. During the course of training, the difficulty and complexity of the scenarios can be increased. There are numerous cameras to monitor progress of training evolutions, ensure safety, and provide video for debriefing. When the teams leave they take with them a DVD with the video of their training. Aris will soon be joined by a decommissioned mine countermeasures ship, the ex-HS Alkyon (M211), which is at NMIOTC now and being modified for live training.”

This sounds like a good idea that the Coast Guard might want to consider.

(Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention.) 

One thought on “NATO Trains Boarding Teams

  1. Most armies have access to converted, or custom-built, towns or villages to practice suburban warfare (my favourite acronym for this comes from the British Army: FISH, Fighting In Someone’s House). So why shouldn’t most navies have similar facilities?

    Quite a few do. The Royal Navy has recently been building what is referred to as the ‘ship in a box’ at the RN’s basic training facility, HMS Raleigh.

    From New board and search facility at HMS Raleigh

    A new training facility, which will teach sailors and marines how to board and search merchant vessels suspected of operating illegally, has been formally opened at HMS Raleigh by Rear Admiral Ben Key, Flag Officer Sea Training

    The ‘Ship-in-a-box’ complex, run by 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, recreates the inside of a merchant ship and is the most realistic facility available to train sailors and marines to carry out this important task.

    Built from 21 ISO containers, identical to those used on cargo ships, the structure is three storeys high, complete with a bridge and a deck area. Inside there is a warren of passageways and compartments including cabins, mock engine rooms, a galley, cargo holds and mess areas. Each one has a number of imaginative hiding places, similar to those used by smugglers, drug runners and terrorists in real life, where contraband will have been placed by the training staff.

    Rest of article and some pictures available at the link.

    Raleigh also has other interesting things like a full scale UNREP training complex. The only part of the training cycle they can’t replicate is navigating and transferring from a RHIB onto the target vessel. But a shore-based facility is a hell of a lot cheaper than maintaining a ship for the same job, as well as much quicker and easier to upgrade (in Raleigh’s case, just swap out some of the ISO containers) and much less of a headache to maintain.

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