VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 1, based at Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Little Creek deployed March 8 after a year of intense training with Marine forces.
The deployment marks the first for a riverine squadron since the Vietnam War.
More than 100 riverine Sailors deployed to the Middle East to integrate with Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) to conduct maritime security operations (MSO) along rivers and other inland waterways: denying the use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack; a haven for insurgent activities; or the illegal transportation of weapons, people or material in Iraq.
"The combat skills training at Camp Lejune (N.C.) with the Marine Corps and firefight introductions training took us from 'blue water Sailors' -- open water Navy -- to become an expeditionary force," said Cmdr. William Guarini, commanding officer of RIVRON 1.
"Our goal is to help the Marines and other units we'll be working with to facilitate stability in the area," said, Lt.j.g. Joshua Sprubeck, team officer for RIVRON 1.
Full of the mixed emotions that come with a deployment, members of the squadron feel they are ready to get underway.
"I'm kind of excited and kind of scared, but I'm ready to get over there and do my job," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (SS) Michael Cherry.
Sprubeck echoed Cherry's sentiments.
"We're feeling a little bit of excitement, a little bit of fear of the unknown but we're chomping at the bit to go. All the guys are ready to roll," said Sprubeck.
RIVRON 1 received specialized training in a number of areas including cultural and language skills presented in realistic combat scenarios, and small unit riverine craft training -- all to help prepare them for the challenges they may face in the field.
"The training that we've received has been awesome," said Chief Quartermaster (SW) Mike Gaspar, command career counselor for RIVRON 1. "There were a lot of young men that came here new to this kind of thing. They came here with open minds and did really well with the training that prepared us well for the mission."
Three riverine squadrons under one riverine group commander serve as a ready force for the Joint Force Maritime Component commander. Each squadron consists of specially designed craft configured to operate in a hostile environment. Water craft will have multiple crews for near continuous operations and lift capacity for a small tactical unit.
"These Sailors are ready to go," said Guarini. "They are motivated to be here, they are excited, and they give me energy just seeing their enthusiasm."
The Navy's riverine force is part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), a global force provider of adaptive force packages of expeditionary capabilities to joint warfighting commanders. NECC serves as a single functional command to centrally manage the current and future readiness, resources, manning, training, and equipping of the Navy Expeditionary Force.
For related news, visit the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Navy NewsStand page at www.navy.mil/local/necc.