Sunday, July 2, 2010 we moored in Casablanca, Morocco. This stop in Morocco has commenced our mission in West Africa, helping partner nations build their capacities and capabilities to increase their maritime domain awareness and strengthen their borders against the flow of drugs and other illicit maritime activity.
Instead of fireworks, hot dogs and baseball games on the Fourth of July, we celebrated Independence Day by hosting a flight deck reception with the U.S. Consul General in Casablanca. The guest list included distinguished visitors from the diplomatic corps as well as the Moroccan and foreign military. The reception featured beautifully prepared dishes highlighting the cutter’s food service technicians’ culinary skills. The event was a great success.
After working in port with some breaks for visits to the medina (open market), the infamous Rick’s Café, the Corniche beach area and the Hussan II Mosque – the second largest mosque in the world – we teamed up with the Royal Moroccan Naval ship Mohammed V to conduct two days of at-sea exercises including formation steaming, visual communications and small boat operations.
The highlight of the at-sea exercises was conducting mock boardings; our boarding team “boarding” the Royal Moroccan Navy and the Royal Moroccan Navy team “boarding” Mohawk. Each vessel created scenarios that walked the other country through Right of Approach questions on the radio, getting the boarding team safely transferred aboard the suspect vessel, initial safety sweep and inspection of the vessel and finally procedures for seizure of people and property. Teams encountered everything from simulated illegal drugs and migrants, to weapons and even a simulated bomb.
“During our boarding exercises with the Moroccan Navy I was able to learn many things from their lead boarding officer. I was able to see how they react to stressful situations and what their policies were pertaining to use of force interactions,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tolliver, law enforcement officer aboard the Mohawk. “I was able to share my knowledge from boarding officer to boarding officer standpoint and assist them as much as possible. Ultimately, I feel it was a great experience for the Moroccan Navy and us. It gave Mohawk’s law enforcement teams a chance to showcase their talents and skill-based knowledge. They were able to show the Moroccan Navy a different way to do work.”
Now that we have officially wrapped our engagement with Morocco the ship is back at sea heading toward the next host nation and more exciting adventures.
PA3 Victoria Bonk