USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team members conducted counterpiracy operations with French destroyer FS De Grasse (D612) off the Horn of Africa Aug. 19.
VBSS teams board and inspect vessels of interest to execute counterpiracy and counterterrorism operations and to prevent drug and weapons smuggling. The teams also perform a wide-range of other missions, including safety inspections and rendering humanitarian aid. The VBSS process requires not only tactical and physical prowess, but diplomatic skill as well.
"VBSS gives the U.S. Navy the opportunity to build good relationships with mariners by letting them know that they are not alone when they cry for help," said Lt. j.g. Jason Fite, VBSS boarding officer. "We do this by aggressively patrolling the area and responding to potential attempts of piracy."
In June, Winston S. Churchill's VBSS team assisted two Yemeni fishermen in the Gulf of Oman. The fishermen had been without food, water and fuel for four days after their small dhow broke down. The team remained with the fishermen until the Yemeni Coast Guard escorted the dhow to safety.
"Being on the VBSS team gives me a great sense of accomplishment," said Yeoman Seaman William Lee, VBSS team member. "Whether going out to board a suspicious vessel, or aiding others in need, I feel good knowing I'm doing whatever I can to make this world a better place."
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