Photo Information

February 14, 2011, U.S. Marines with the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), participate in a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) exercise aboard the U.S. Navy Ship Jack Lummus, in support of a certification exercise conducted by the 31st MEU.

Photo by Sgt. Kelsey J. Green

Maritime Contingency Force remains ready

21 Feb 2011 | Cpl. Michael A. Bianco

CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters broke the silence of the early morning hours as they soared toward a ship refusing to comply with orders of the U.S. Navy.

The Force Reconnaissance Platoon inserted via Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (reinforced), both with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and quickly gained control of the bridge, as the rest of the Maritime Raid Force searched key areas throughout the vessel, during a mock Visit Board Search and Seizure, Feb. 17.

The ship used for the event, USNS Jack Lummus, is a military sealift command ship. The MRF was tasked to perform a non-compliant boarding of the ship and locate a specific individual aboard.

The VBSS mission is a regular, but vital part of the 31st MEU’s certification as a Maritime Contingency Force. The training teaches service members how to board a ship, search it for weaponry or combatants, and eventually gain control of the vessel.

MEU snipers provided support from the air, aboard a SH-60 helicopter, and from a nearby shouldering ship.

Throughout the evolution, the MRF secured and held key areas of the ship and detained persons of interest for further questioning.

The training evolution prepares the MEU to conduct maritime interdiction operations throughout the Pacific Command’s area of of operations.

“Situations like this can happen at any time, much like the Magellan Star operation last Fall. The 15th MEU’s MRF successfully boarded that ship and detained nine pirates while recovering the crew,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven Sarten, Special Missions Chief Instructor for Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “And by doing this training, this certifies the 31st MEU to always be ready, always be on stand-by and be able to be called upon at anytime to conduct this mission.”

The training was conducted as a part of the MEU’s certification exercise and coincided with the unit’s participation in exercise Cobra Gold 2011.


31st Marine Expeditionary Unit