ABOARD USS SIROCCO, Persian Gulf (NNS) -- The crew of USS Hurricane (PC 3), from Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, assumed control of the Norfolk-based USS Sirocco (PC 6) in April as part of the Navy's Sea Swap program, allowing Sirocco to remain on station to protect Iraqi oil terminals and to conduct maritime security operations (MSO).
Sirocco and coalition forces continue to conduct operations in the waters around the Khawr Al Amaya (KAAOT) and Al Basrah (ABOT) oil terminals while Iraqi security forces are aboard the terminals, protecting Iraqi infrastructure. Security of these terminals is a high priority.
"That is our number one mission here; to ensure those terminals are safe," said Lt. Matthew Lambert, Sirocco's commanding officer. "The oil that comes out of there is important for the reconstruction of Iraq and the future of the new republic."
MSO sets the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complements the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations by denying international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.
Sirroco, equipped with 25mm cannons; .50-caliber machine guns; and M-60 machine guns can be augmented with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments.
"The work we do out here is very crucial to the stability in Iraq," said Lt. Geoff Miller, Sirocco's executive officer. "Whatever the mission is, whether it's protecting the platforms or searching vessels, the crew of Sirocco is ready to go. And in just the short amount of time we've been out here, the crew has done a great job."
Patrol craft are an important part of MSO. These small, fast, maneuverable craft are able to react faster than larger Navy vessels.
"The PCs are very important," said Lambert. "We can protect the terminals and stop terrorists from operating in the area. And given the importance of the terminals, Sirocco will continue to protect them at all costs."
ABOT and KAAOT were secured during the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 to prevent Saddam Hussein's forces from conducting environmental sabotage. ABOT reopened in July 2003 and KAAOT reopened in February 2004.
For related news, visit the Maritime Force Protection Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/mfpc/.