The VBSS training was designed to prepare participating military forces for at-sea boardings in the next phase of the exercise.
The training began at the Mozambique Naval School Jan. 29 with several hours of classroom instruction.
“For Cutlass Express to succeed the partner nations need the knowledge and skills gained through instruction and training,” said Daniel Schaeffer, a fisheries and enforcement expert from Pew Charitable Trusts and instructor for Cutlass Express. “This began with the first day of training focusing on the basics of evidence collection and the linkages of fisheries enforcement as a foundational element of maritime security.”
The training included demonstrations and drills on close-quarters combat, medical readiness and proper search and detainment techniques.
“I taught tactical combat casualty care, which is mainly treating common battlefield field injuries,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joseph Thomas, attached to Navy Special Warfare Unit 10. “The participants today were eager to learn and overall did really well.”
The first phase of training concluded aboard the French Patrol Ship Le Malin (P 107) and Mauritius Kora-class Corvette MCGS Barracuda. Military members from Mauritius, Mozambique and Tanzania took turns practicing techniques and maneuvers learned in the classroom including boarding and clearing vessels as well as questioning and interrogation procedures.
This training was done in conjunction with similar training conducted in Djibouti as part of the same exercise.
The Djibouti portion featured the participation of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and the Indian Talwar-class frigate INS Trikand (F51). Trikland and Chung-Hoon will remain in the exercise operation area during the next phase of training to take part in the scenario-based, at-sea portion of Cutlass Express.
Sailors from the Indian navy provided VBSS training to more than 60 students from five countries in tandem with Sailors from the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Netherlands Marines.
“It was a great experience participating for the first time, and we look forward to participating again in the future,” said Mauritius Lt. Cmdr. Shirrish Pavale, VBSS officer in charge aboard Trikand. “The training was very beneficial to the partner nations, and it allowed us to learn techniques and procedures from each other.”
Cutlass Express 2019 moves to the second phase of training as participating nations take to the seas to conduct mock boardings on participating vessels.
Participating nations in Cutlass Express include Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Portugal, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, the Netherlands and the United States.
Cutlass Express is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities between the U.S., East African and Western Indian Ocean nations to counter illicit maritime activity, the US Navy said.