SOUDA BAY, Crete (NNS) -- Maritime forces participated in a multinational maritime interdiction operation (MIO) training exercise at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Center in Souda Bay, Greece, as part of exercise Phoenix Express 2012 (PE12), May 10.
Service members from Moroccan naval vessel Mohamed V (F 611) and guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) received training from Hellenic and U.S. Navy instructors who focused on boarding procedures.
Chief Master-at-Arms Ruben Villanueva stressed the importance of maintaining control of crew and suspects when conducting MIO procedures, as well as knowing how to work alongside partnering nations.
"It's important for everyone here to train together and learn to cooperate with one another, because you never know who is assisting you out at sea while performing MIO operations," said Villanueva, assigned to NCIS Security Training Assistance Team.
Course participants were broken up into teams to practice tactics and techniques they learned including how to handle personnel with weapons. For many participants, this was the first time that they had been given this type of training.
"This was my first time on a MIO boarding team, as well as my first time participating in Phoenix Express," said Moroccan navy Petty Officer Mohamed Lantamri. "I am really enjoying what I'm learning. The training is very structured and I feel I am learning a lot from the other country's [participants] as well as the instructors."
This training evolution is one of many to take place during PE12, which also includes boarding procedures, container inspections, and intelligence and evidence collection.
PE12, a multinational maritime exercise between Southern European, North African and U.S. Naval forces, is designed to improve cooperation among participating nations and help increase safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
Participants and observers in PE12 include Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Libya, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and United States.
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