SOUDA BAY, Crete (May 25, 2011) – Phoenix Express 2011 (PE-11), a multi-national maritime exercise, is helping Sailors from U.S., North African and European naval forces to understand better how to perform Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), used by participant nations in their efforts to deter illicit trafficking at sea.
“The training is giving us a broader understanding of MIO operations as well as greater flexibility,” said Royal Moroccan Navy Lt. Amine Khalik, a member of the Royal Moroccan Special Forces.
PE-11, a three-week evolution divided into in-port and underway training phases, is designed to enhance regional maritime partnerships.
“This is really helping to bring our different countries together,” said U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms (SW) Dale Naaktgeboren, instructor for Tactical MIO planning. “We are finding out that we are dealing with the same problems and that we can overcome them by working together.”
Maritime and land forces from 13 countries will participate in the international military partnering exercise in the Mediterranean Sea from May 23 to June 15, and will serve as a unique training opportunity to enhance each country’s ability to work together and to deter illicit trafficking at sea. Having the ability to conduct intercept operations against suspect vessels has become increasingly important to these navies.
“This is helping me to get a better understanding of how MIO works,” said U.S. Navy Quartermaster 2nd Class (SW) Joshua Pascale, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team member attached to USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49). “Coming out here and meeting all of the participants from the other countries is great – it shows me that we have common interests and goals.”
U.S. units participating in Phoenix Express include Bradley, USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29), and Military Sealift Command ship maritime prepositioning ship USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat (T-AK 3016) and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198). Additional U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa staff personnel will also participate alongside other international naval forces in this exercise.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.