USS Elrod trains with Tunisian Navy


The US Navy’s Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate USS Elrod conducted training with the Tunisian Armed Forces during a port visit and passing exercise earlier this week.

USS Elrod (FFG 55) departed Tunisia on February 10 after holding a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the Tunisian Navy and hosting a number of Ambassadors, Tunisian legislators and defence attaches from various countries as part of continued U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa efforts to strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance regional stability, the US Navy said.

During the visit, “Our goal here was to strengthen our partnership with Tunisia in hopes of increasing maritime and theatre security in the region,” said Lt.j.g. Michael Simmons, the damage control assistant aboard Elrod. “With the recent PASSEX we conducted, we had an opportunity to exchange techniques in critical warfare areas that both of our militaries are likely to need in this region of the world.”

During the PASSEX, Sailors and members of the Tunisian Navy worked side-by-side in areas including damage control, expeditionary medical care and boarding techniques.
“I’m always impressed with how well everyone works together, especially with language barriers coming into play,” added Simmons. “One of the things that makes things run smoothly is that a lot of our techniques are very similar. All of the techniques we use apply across the board, no matter where you’re from.”

A major highlight in the exercise involved a simulated ship boarding by a Tunisian Navy visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team. During the simulated boarding, members of Elrod’s VBSS team observed the Tunisian Navy team’s techniques and procedures.
“They came aboard our ship as if we were a shipping vessel with a few of our Sailors playing the role of smugglers,” said Chief Gunner’s Mate Rodger Clay, a member of Elrod’s VBSS team. “The Tunisian team searched each Sailor and certain areas of the ship that were part of the scenario. After finding contraband, they apprehended the suspected smugglers and ended the scenario.”

After the exchange ended, each team compared techniques and offered advice to each other.
“You can tell that a lot of our training is very similar,” said Clay. “We had a lot more things alike than were different.”

Elrod is currently on a scheduled deployment in support of maritime and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

Upon return from deployment, Elrod is scheduled for decommissioning after more than 30 years of service.