USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Nassau (LHA 4) Sailors have been training vigorously since January for one of 21 spots on the visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team being formed in preparation for Nassau's next deployment.
The mission of a VBSS team is to board ships in search of terrorists that utilize the world's oceans to traffic weapons and other contraband.
While boarding operations are conducted with the consent of the suspect vessel, team members are trained in tactical maneuvers should the crew become hostile. While aboard the suspect vessel, the team's work is to verify the crew member identities, as well as passengers and cargo. Anyone or anything that is found to be illegal is detained for further examination.
"The reason I volunteered for VBSS is for the training and camaraderie that you get from working in specialized units like VBSS," said Joint Intelligence Center's Cryptologic Technician Collection 1st Class Jonathan Routzong.
"As an intelligence specialist, much of what I do is behind the scenes, and I rarely get the chance to actually experience what I analyze and report," said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Tiberju Truta, a VBSS applicant. "I've seen countless reports after VBSS boardings and I always admired the people who put themselves on the line to provide us with knowledge of the battle space and security amid uncertain conditions."
Nassau crew members who have volunteered for assignment to the team have already started a series of courses, such as ship's reaction force qualifications, small arms weapons qualifications and advanced first aid, which are all pre-requisites for being a boarding team member and attending VBSS school.
In addition to the academic qualifications, volunteers have begun a rigorous physical training program as a team to ensure that they are in peak physical condition for boarding school and for possible future mission operations.
"I've noticed that we are working together a lot better," said Truta. "We support each other more during PT (physical training) and don't let each other give up."
With the deployment coming next year, the team will be busy training both physically and mentally, and honing their skills.
According to Routzong, as team members prepare to form the most capable boarding team, the next year will prove to be one filled with challenges that include both rigorous training and building team cohesion.
"Unity and knowing that we the team are like an arrow," he said. "It's not just the arrow head that keeps the arrow true, it's the whole thing that keeps it in flight and helps it to its [final] destination."
For related news, visit the USS Nassau Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lha4/.