IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Costal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 5 made history Feb. 2 during its commissioning ceremony at Outlying Landing Field (OLF) Imperial Beach, making it the first active-duty Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron since the Vietnam War.
NCWRON 5 is the newest addition to the Navy's force protection and anti-terrorism team. During the Vietnam War, gunboats and patrol craft were used for coastal and river operations. Sailors commonly referred to these operations as the "Brown Water Navy," which existed between 1966 and 1970 to combat enemy attacks and weapons smuggling.
"NCWRON 5's mission has evolved since the Vietnam War to provide anti-terrorism and force protection worldwide," said Lt. Katherine St. Laurent, assistant officer in charge, Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 501, NCWRON 5. "NCWRON 5 will help expand the Navy's inshore war-fighting capabilities, and allow safer travel for U.S. and allied vessels through foreign coastal waters, harbors and rivers."
NCWRON 5 combines a Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit; two Inshore Boat Units; and supporting staff personnel under one command. Together these forces provide harbor defense, port security, high value asset escorting, and littoral surveillance support operations, said Lt. T. Wilkes Coleman, systems officer, NCWRON 5. They accomplish their mission by locating, identifying, and neutralizing potential threats and maintaining security throughout areas of operation.
"As the newest force in the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), we are a little different than the regular Navy. We work in a different environment with a different mission," said Cmdr. Joe Bell, commanding officer, Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron 5. "That's one reason we wore camouflage today instead of the customary dress uniform, they tie into our mission. We are ready to join the Navy and Marines, and become one of the preeminent forces in the Navy's anti-terrorist and force protection."
Before the commissioning of NCWRON 5, only reserve units were deployed, said Coleman.
"The unique feature of being an active-duty squadron serves as a more readily available force to respond and serve in the littoral regions," said Coleman. "The squadron, which is deployable within 72 hours notice, adds forward naval presence to help prevent future attacks."
NECC acts as the parent command for all Naval Coastal Warfare Groups by managing current and future operations, manning and readiness, and training.
OLF has seen the addition of new equipment, new personnel, and a lot more activity while preparing for the arrival of NCWRON 5.
"It's a great location for the new squadron. It allows room for growth and training and is close to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, where the boats are deployed," said Coleman.
"The NCWRON-5 is now a combat driven unit with 280 crew members from different rates and ranks, and each one of them has contributed greatly to get us to this point," said Bell. "These men and women have shown dedication and assertiveness that will ensure NCWRON 5 is ready to take her spot in the global war on terrorism."
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