U.S. NAVAL BASE CORONADO, Calif. -- Critical Skills Operators (CSO) with Company B, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, conducted Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) training, Jan. 5-16, at U.S. Naval Base Coronado, California.
VBSS is a mission set conducted by MARSOC during maritime interdiction, designed to capture enemy vessels. It is also used to combat terrorism, piracy and smuggling.
“The overall end state is to demonstrate that as an expeditionary and scalable force, a Marine Special Operations Company, is capable of executing a VBSS mission in response to a potential crisis,” said the assistant operations chief for Co. B. “At the tactical level, the goal is to develop and fine tune the standard operating procedure a Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) will utilize while conducting VBSS.”
Conducting operations at sea presented a whole new set of problems the MSOT’s had to overcome throughout the training, according to the assistant operations chief for Co. B. Maneuvering aboard a ship can disrupt communications and make command and control more difficult.
Additionally, the confined spaces and sheer quantity of compartments on a ship extend the time required for a detailed search for personnel and illicit materials, he added.
Because of the difficulties, CSO’s developed new skills while building upon old ones to become more strategically proficient.
“We had to learn a lot of advanced techniques, tactics and procedures, because it’s not just close quarter’s battle on a boat and we can’t plan for all of the contingencies aboard a ship,” said a CSO with Co. B.
At the end of the training, the CSO’s walked away having gained advanced tactical and technical knowledge as well as valuable hands-on experience.
“We learned where the key spaces on a ship are to effectively take control of it,” said a CSO with Co. B. “Each ship is different, but they all have similarities; we can use those similarities to apply the fundamentals to any ship we would have to interdict.”