By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
Cutlass Express is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities between the U.S., East African and Western Indian Ocean nations to counter illicit maritime activity.
Prior to the exercise’s opening ceremonies, Chung-Hoon hosted a reception in Djibouti then set sail to Seychelles to complete integrated training with the African nation.
“Chung-Hoon is here to facilitate the enhancement of maritime security operations through integrated training events,” said Cmdr. Brent Jackson, commanding officer of Chung-Hoon. “Part of that integrated training is to provide a platform that can improve training for our partner nations' boarding teams. It feels incredibly gratifying to train alongside our East African partners because we appreciate the necessity for increased proficiency in maritime security operations. This is all a part of the bigger picture of many nations working together as one force for the greater good.”
Barracuda is participating in Cutlass express for the first time, and is operating out of Pemba, Mozambique. The multi-purpose platform has been used to further visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training for the participating nations.
“Training is, of course, the most important requirement, but it also builds up the camaraderie between the nations that are present in this area. It also lays the foundation for building up a security framework in this area,” said Mauritius Cmdr. Kunal Bharadwaj, commanding officer of Barracuda. “This exercise provides a good platform for interacting with other countries in this region, and this will pave the way for what we’d like to achieve in the future where we’re carrying out operations in conjunction with other countries in the area.”
Like Barracuda, Le Malin is in Pemba for the exercise, focusing on interoperability and trading VBSS tactics among the participants.
“It’s exciting to participate with our partners to enhance that partnership,” said French Lt. Juni Qua, commanding officer of La Malin. “It was very beneficial for us to train with the Barracuda. The lead VBSS instructor said he also learned a lot. I hope in the future we will have other opportunities to train with them.”
Trikand is also participating in Cutlass Express for the first time and is acting as a target vessel for further VBSS operations in a realistic maritime environment out of Djibouti.
“Our first time participating in Cutlass Express was very successful,” said Indian Lt. Cmdr. Shirrish Pavale, VBSS officer in charge aboard Trikand. “It was a valuable experience and I think that every nation involved was able to learn a significant amount of information from each other.”
Participating nations boarded the ships to train on practical scenarios such as defensive tactics, boarding team communications, maritime tactical egress tactics and procedures, judgmental use of force, decision-making, and tactical combat casualty care.
The 15 participating nations in this iteration of Cutlass Express are Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Portugal, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, The Netherlands and the United States.