Magazine article Sea Classics

Small Boats Provide Links to Local Maritime Community

Magazine article Sea Classics

Small Boats Provide Links to Local Maritime Community

Article excerpt

While there is a ring of steel around the Iraqi oil terminal platforms in the Northern Persian Gulf, small rubber boats with special boat crews do much of the heavy lifting for security and stability in the area.

Coalition ships move continuously around the Al Basra Oil Terminal and the Khawr al Amaya Oil Terminal, and each sends out small boat crews aboard rigid-hulled inflatable boats to conduct VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) missions.

"They are the 'beat cops' for the area," said Capt. Pat Roane, USS Lake Champlain's (CG-57) captain. "They reach out from the ships and serve a variety of functions."

The crews run the range and fulfill a variety of missions. Sailors from US, British and Australian ships volunteer to serve on these crews. Lake Champlain, for example, has two crews pulled from volunteers around the ship.

All coalition ships have this capability. American, British and Australian ships are always a part of Coalition Task Force 58. Other countries' ships join when available.

The teams provide a variety of capabilities. For example, Royal Marine teams can fast rope from helicopters onto a ship for "noncompliant search operations," said Royal Marine 2nd Lt. Tom Dingwall, aboard HMS St. Albans (F-83). His seven-man squad trains to this standard and can do all other less-invasive boarding drills also.

The platforms are in the middle of a fishing ground, and there is an exclusion area around the platforms. Fishing dhows come right up to the line. The teams interact constantly with Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Iranian fishermen.

"The teams go out and talk to the fishermen," Doane said. …

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