USS MITSCHER, At Sea (NNS) -- A U.S. Coast Guard Advanced Interdiction Team (AIT) embarked aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) July 23 for counterpiracy operations.
AITs are deployable Coast Guard boarding teams made of highly trained maritime law enforcement specialists capable of Level III non-compliant boardings. As the only organization in the U.S. government with the combined authority of a law enforcement agency, an intelligence agency, and a military service, the 12-person AIT brings additional capabilities and expertise to Mitscher's visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team.
Under the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard has the authority and capability to interdict, apprehend, and refer suspected criminals for prosecution. It also has expertise in gathering and building evidentiary packages required for prosecuting piracy and other maritime crimes.
"We can assist in evidence collection, and if a case goes to trial, we can prepare case packages," said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Robert List, AIT officer-in-charge. "We provide technical expertise to the teams."
Mitscher's VBSS team and the AIT will train together between operations to enhance their joint boarding tactics, boat operation skills and internal movements.
"The plan is to start doing some exercises and learn how to work together so we can flow together as one unit," said Lt. j.g. Jason Coyle, Mitscher auxiliary officer and boarding officer. "I think the training is a good team-building opportunity and the camaraderie will become stronger when we start doing boardings."
The integration of the two teams has generated positive responses.
"Having two different services and people with different professional backgrounds working together is good," said List. "We can learn from each other and improve operations out here."
Mitscher is deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group, comprising of Carrier Strike Group 2 staff, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron 22 staff, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), guided- missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS Anzio (CG 68) and guided-missile destroyers Mitscher and USS Truxtun (DDG 103).
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.