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NEWS | Feb. 7, 2022

31st MEU Seizes USS Miguel Keith during VBSS Operations in support of Exercise Noble Fusion

By Lt.Cmdr. Sherrie A Flippin 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

EAST CHINA SEA -- Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), embarked aboard the USS America (LHA 6), conducted visit board, search and seizure (VBSS) training aboard the USS Miguel Keith (ESB 5) as part of Exercise Noble Fusion, Feb. 5, 2022.

This was the first time 31st MEU Marines boarded an expeditionary staging base platform during VBSS training and the first time the Miguel Keith is operating in conjunction with the USS America Amphibious Ready Group as part of Task Force 76’s composite deployment. Navy and Marine Corps personnel performed the training using tactics to board maritime assets to combat piracy, smuggling, terrorism or any other suspicious activity at sea with the goal of capturing the vessel to prevent any further criminal activities. VBSS operations can also be used to conduct customs inspections as well as safety inspections to make sure vessels are safe for sea.

“Training for these dangerous evolutions is key for our team if tasked to board non-compliant vessel in the future,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Jones, the executive officer, 31st MEU. “Using the Miguel Keith for this operation enabled the VBSS team to maneuver and train on a new platform, advancing their knowledge and skill.”

Concurrently, the USS Dewey and JS Kongo are conducting surface maneuvers and protecting the force for all operations as directed by Destroyer Squadron 7, who is working as the surface warfare commander throughout Noble Fusion.

"Sea-denial operations with cruisers and destroyers, seizing key maritime terrain with aviation and surface movement, guaranteeing freedom of movement--these are the things we do every day in the Indo-Pacific,” said Navy Capt. Tom Ogden, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. “This exercise validates the ability of US forces, and allies to establish sea control and maintain readiness while also providing security and enabling stability."

Noble Fusion highlights the Navy and Marine Corps forward-deployed stand-in naval expeditionary forces ability to rapidly aggregate Marine Expeditionary Unit/Amphibious Ready Group teams at sea, along with a carrier strike group, as well as other joint force elements and allies, in order to conduct lethal sea-denial operations, seize key maritime terrain, guarantee freedom of movement, and create advantage for US, partner and allied forces. Naval Expeditionary forces conduct training throughout the year, in the Indo-Pacific, to maintain readiness.

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