USS VELLA GULF, At Sea (NNS) -- The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 flag ship, coordinated a personnel exchange at sea with Denmark's flexible support ship, HDMS Absalon (L 16), which recently joined the task force.
Three Sailors from each ship crossed decks for a day at sea with their foreign counterpart as a way to strengthen foreign relations and compare notes with other coalition anti-piracy naval forces.
"It's great to talk with other boarding teams and see how they do things," said Lt. Anders Larsen, Absalon's navigator. "It's interesting to see the differences in crew organization and procedures. But, there are more similarities than differences, which is very impressive."
Absalon's tactical officer, Lt. Cmdr. Jansen Primdahl, agreed saying, "It's always interesting to me, visiting with other navies and observing the similarities."
Vella Gulf's Sailors gained valuable insight from the experience as well.
"It was an incredible experience, and I wish I could have documented the entire thing to share with the crew of the Vella Gulf," said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Kevin Cunningham. "We got a chance to meet with Danish boarding teams to compare notes and methods for combating piracy in this region. I know, personally, I took quite a bit away from that meeting on what to look for when approaching a suspected pirate vessel."
Both groups of Sailors received orientations from ship personnel and observed how their counterparts operate during routine ship evolutions.
"When we first landed on board Absalon, we were informed that we would be witness to a damage control drill," said Cunningham. "Their ship's technology is very advanced, so we actually got to watch most of the drill from monitors in their damage control central."
All of the Sailors involved said they appreciated the hospitality and enjoyed their experience.
"The Danish sailors were extremely accommodating, and helpful in every aspect," continued Cunningham. "We are all out here doing the same mission right now, and - from what I have seen and experienced in the past couple days - I am glad the Danes are the ones 'watching our back' as some would say."
Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, commander, CTF 51/59/151, also met with Absalon's crew members and commanding officer, Capt. Dan B. Termansen. Termansen stressed the importance of conducting counter-piracy operations in the region.
"It's what having a navy is all about," said Termansen.
"It's about keeping sea lanes secure. With 90 percent of the world's commerce going on the waterways, we have a huge interest in securing maritime commerce. And, we have an interest in helping other nations in the area help themselves in keeping their waterways open."
Denmark and the U.S. navies have participated in many NATO exercises together, including strategic exercises in the Baltic Sea. Now, the two traditional sea powers are coming together to fight a pressing problem in the region.
"Our mandate as CTF 151 is counter-piracy; that's our focus," said McKnight. "Its not just one, two or three nations that are affected by the plague of piracy, it's everyone. Our job is to keep the waterways open for the free flow of commerce. Having the Danish navy participating in counter-piracy operations brings a wealth of maritime knowledge and experience which will help stem the tide of piracy."
Vella Gulf is the flagship for CTF 151. CTF 151 is a multinational task force conducting counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. It was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.
For more news from Combined Task Force 151, visit www.navy.mil/local/CTF-151/.