SOUDA BAY, Crete – Sailors assigned to the guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) participated in a multinational training exercise aboard the Hellenic navy training ship Aris at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Center (NMIOTC) in support of exercise Phoenix Express 2012 (PE12) in Souda Bay, Crete, May 12.
The training included boarding procedures, proper weapons handling, and engaging compliant and non-compliant ships. It also gave the multinational servicemembers the opportunity to train with other countries and learn to work together.
“Our objective is to instill trust in participating nations,” said a Hellenic Navy Special Forces instructor. “We are here to promote friendship and mutual understanding among participants, and to learn how to safely conduct boarding procedures.”
Working together in an environment where security forces come from many different nations and backgrounds means the instructors had to make sure the participants were at the same capability level in order to properly function as a team during the training.
“This training is important because these are the basics,” said Senior Chief Fire Controlman Allen Bylls, a Simpson boarding team member. “You want to do this in a controlled training environment so you can get the fundamentals down before you go out into a real world situation.”
The combined training also helps servicemembers identify and overcome potential obstacles that could get in the way of the team’s performance.
“One of the biggest obstacles we encountered was the language barrier,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brenton Paulk, a staff instructor from Rota, Spain. “It’s something we are learning to overcome during our training and I think learning how to interact with other nations will be helpful during real-world maritime interdiction operation.”
PE12, a multinational maritime exercise between Southern European, North African and U.S. Naval forces, is designed to improve cooperation among participating nations and help increase safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
Participants and observers in PE12 include Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and United States.