PHILIPPINE SEA -- Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 conducted helicopter visit, board, search and seizure (HVBSS) training with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14 and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), May 11. The training was centered on strengthening the integration of the three units to leverage an optimal response capability to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) found during maritime interdiction operations (MIOs).
The training was led by EODMU 3 platoon 322 and consisted of IED identification training, hands-on shipboard drills searching for and responding to realistic IED components, a simulated low-light boarding utilizing an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter and tactically securing a vessel while coordinating with simulated sniper over-watches.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Zach Dorfman, one of the instructors involved, emphasized that the exercise was a great chance to meet face-to-face with the personnel aboard Mobile Bay and alongside HSC-14, to reinforce expertise on the integrated pre-planned responses to IEDs in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
“In the event that the Mobile Bay VBSS team comes across any sort of IED, our unit would get called in to observe and render the vessel safe,” Dorfman said. “We also work with our helicopter assets, in this case HSC-14, to both get us to that vessel and to keep us safe. During this exercise, we covered the whole process – the Mobile Bay VBSS team’s searching and responding procedures, our response after being called away and the MH-60S’s role in getting us there, covering us and getting us out.”
Ensign Brennen Means, the VBSS officer aboard Mobile Bay, highlighted that the event was a great opportunity to swap experiences between the three units, who each specialize in different, yet, in this case, intersecting warfare interests.
“This experience and training further strengthened our relationship and competency with the other units and was valuable for our VBSS team,” Means said. “Having these shared drilling experiences better prepares all of us in the response to illicit cargo, and Sailors in the 7th Fleet area of operations will continue to do outstanding work because of them.”
EODMU 3 platoon 322 is currently embarked on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Sailors attached to this unit are tasked with responding to reports of IEDs from any of the ship’s VBSS teams conducting MIOs in the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, including Mobile Bay.
Sailors interested in participating in shipboard VBSS teams are required to obtain a number of anti-terrorism force protection (ATFP) qualifications before they can apply to become team members. Sailors involved in VBSS aboard Mobile Bay are designated as members of the team in addition to maintaining sustained superior performance in the tasking given to them as part of their designated rate or job.
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability through alliances and partnerships while serving as a ready-response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.