ISS3 2012

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 27 of 51

Coast Guard Boards Vintage Ship for Maritime Law Enforcement Training Story and Photos by PAC Judy Silverstein, Seventh Coast Guard District Public Affairs The 455-foot merican ictoryǡ a World War II-era cargo ship and troop carrier turned maritime museum, has seen recent military action with Coast Guard crews onboard. It's all part of rigorous annual Boarding Team Member training at Sector St. Petersburg. Using the vintage ship was the brainchild of Reserve Maritime Enforcement Specialists in collaboration with the Reserve Force Readiness staff, which together recognized a unique training opportunity. "The goal is to provide realistic training that prepares the students for what they might encounter in the real world," said hief etty fϐicer hristopher ellingtonǤ Dz sing the merican Victory as a platform, gives the students an opportunity to work in an actual shipboard environment." It further hones team communications that are vital for stellar performance under duress. In the case of the Florida-based class, the nine-deck ship with its dark cargo holds engines, hidden staircases, dim lighting and small cabins, offered realistic staging areas for scenario-based training. That training is critical to understanding the hazards, risks and challenges presented by a shipboard environment. Wellington gives high praise to Reserve instructors who ensured the training adhered to the strict guidelines of the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy. He also credits their diverse professional backgrounds with helping design a well- rounded curriculum with an eye on tactics and realistic training. This year, 32 Coast Guard members spanning a cross-section from units on Florida's west coast participated in the June training. Six class members were reservists. It also marked the third time Sector St. Petersburg reservists used the vintage vessel moored behind The Florida Aquarium, according to Wellington. Once the classroom section was complete, Reserve instructors served as evaluators in the scenario-based portion of the training. Students crept up the ladders, moving in unison across decks, while practicing their tactical training. They were encouraged to strategize and practice back-up and safety movements as active duty members portrayed gunmen, stowaways, hostile crew members and hostages. "The scenarios were meant to duplicate a high stress environment" said Wellington. "The point is to prepare and train high-performing boarding team members." In one early scenario, a four-member search team inched carefully up a shadowed ladder into a dark cargo hold, searching for a potentially-armed stowaway. As they searched behind crates, and around cargo holds, the tension was palpable. Where was this guy? Stacked in the hold were yards of line, canvas and barrels – all ideal hiding spots. The team meticulously checked a series of nooks and crannies, while keeping an eye on one another. Suddenly, the stowaway leapt down from his perch above their heads, surprising the team before being caught, handcuffed and led away. During the evaluation period that followed, the team was asked to self-evaluate and self-correct for the next scenario, with tips and highlights offered by an instructor. He reviewed defensive and physical tactics and how to prepare for the unexpected. The two-week course began with classroom instruction on topics including authority, jurisdiction and use-of-force policies. On-the-water training included boarding recreational vessels, drills involving assistance from the Coast Guard Auxiliary as well as the Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team. Instructors said this year's class was enthusiastic and worked hard to improve their skills and teamwork with each scenario. "The group trusted their Reserve crewmembers and recognized instantly that the law enforcement challenges could resemble Two students in the Boarding Team Member College hosted by Sector St. Petersburg between June 18-29, practice tactical skills aboard the SS American Victory, a WW II-era platform docked in Tampa, Fla. The drill allowed students to hone defensive tactics in a maritime environment fraught with potential safety security risks in a dimly- lit cargo hold. Scenarios were developed and evaluated by both by Reserve and active duty instructors working in tandem with one another to share diverse experience and skills. 26 RESERVIST ᕇ *TTVF t

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