USS Howard (DDG 83) completed conducting maritime security operations (MSO) on Feb. 28 for Combined Task Force 158 in the North Persian Gulf in support of U.S. 5th Fleet.
Howard, along with other coalition ships, guarded Iraq’s Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) and the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) off the southern coast of Iraq.
As a part of the USS Boxer (LHD 4) Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG), Howard was responsible for coordinating MSO around the Al Basrah oil platform
MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination.
Howard’s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams also played a pivotal role in providing security to the region. However, heavy civilian marine traffic, along with strong winds and currents, made the job challenging for Howard and her crew members.
“Our objective was to ensure that every vessel is secure in all respects prior to it arriving at the terminals,” said Howard’s VBSS Boarding Officer Lt. j.g. Reynel Saa.
The teams regularly interacted with the crews of other vessels, particularly small shipping and fishing craft, to promote security and stability.
“This mission is extremely manpower-intensive and demanding on the crew,” said Senior Chief Operations Specialist (SW) Brian Bassett, a Howard Sailor.
U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles and includes the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and parts of the Indian Ocean. It also includes three critical chokepoints at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
By Ensign Kevin Heilenday, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/ Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs