CEBU STRAITS, Philippines – A
team of Philippine Navy and U.S. Coast Guard personnel took
advantage of a unique training platform on May 25 in a simulated
visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) mission onboard the U.S.
guided missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) as part of exercise
Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2009.
“It helped us a lot,” said Philippine Navy Ensign Jay T. Roxas. “It
increased our capabilities in non-compliant boarding.”
With Chafee Sailors posing as potentially hostile individuals aboard
a civilian vessel suspected of carrying an improvised explosive
device (IED), the Philippine Navy team embarked on a rigid hull
inflatable boat from the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD
Covering each other with simulated weapons, the VBSS team ascended a
ladder and came aboard Chafee before splitting into two groups. One
group secured the engine room, while the other secured the bridge
before forming a sweep team to search for the suspected bomb makers
and find the simulated IED.
Chief Intelligence Specialist Joshua Busey, Chafee’s VBSS boarding
officer, was impressed with the Philippine Sailors’ performance.
“They did really well, especially for only two days of training,”
Busey said. “They have very good rules of engagement.”
Lt. j.g. Scott Verhage, officer-in-charge of a Coast Guard Maritime
Safety and Security Team (MSST) embarked aboard Harpers Ferry, led
the evaluation team that accompanied the boarding team. He said that
the two services’ working together helped sharpen his own team’s
“Their tactics, techniques and procedures are quite similar to ours,
so it was a good exercise for us to both stay proficient,” Verhage
The Coast Guard MSST spent the first week of CARAT training with the
Philippine Navy at the Naval Forces Central base in Cebu, focusing
on maritime security and law enforcement.
Cmdr. Heedong Choi, Chafee’s commanding officer, was happy to
welcome the Philippine team aboard for the VBSS evolution.
“I’ve operated with the Philippine Navy since 1991, when I came in,”
Choi said. “Like all professional mariners, they are very
hard-working and very diligent, and they want to work with us to
enhance maritime security.”
CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises held annually in Southeast
Asia to strengthen relationships and enhance the operational
readiness of the participating forces.