Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Phoenix Express Kicks Off from Souda Bay

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Felicito Rustique, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East Det. Europe

May 19, 2010 - SOUDA BAY, Greece (NNS) -- Phoenix Express 2010 (PE-10), a two-week, two-phase, multinational, maritime exercise among regional partners from Africa, Europe, and the United States, is set to conduct its kickoff pre-sail conference and conclude its in port training portion of the exercise.

The in port phase, which began in Rota, Spain, and continued in Souda Bay, Greece, focuses on medical training, maritime interdiction operations (MIO), helicopter operations and safety, damage control, navigation, deck seamanship, search and rescue (SAR), small boat operations and a leadership round table.

Ships and personnel involved will depart Souda Bay later this month and sail into international waters in the central Mediterranean Sea.

During the underway portion of PE-10, countries will track and board suspect vessels carrying suspicious cargo, and Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Automated Identification Systems, along with MIOs like SARs and visit, board, search and seizures will be performed.

U.S. commanders believe PE-10 is invaluable to theater partners because it fosters mutual understanding and improves international military partnering.

"Phoenix Express demonstrates theater partner nations' commitment to regional stability and maritime security," said Capt. Martin Beck, commander, Task Force 68, whose task force is in command of the exercise. "During this exercise, maritime professionals will further develop the capacity to maintain maritime domain awareness. When they meet in the future to conduct combined peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, or to counter trafficking in drugs, people, or weapons in this region, they will be better able to respond and work together."

Twenty countries are expected to participate in the exercise as an either an active participant or observer. U.S. units participating in Phoenix Express include the USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), home ported in Virginia Beach, Virginia; USS John L. Hall (FFG 32), home ported in Mayport, Florida; Military Sealift Command ships USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat (T-AK3 016) and USNS Laramie (T-AO 203); and members of the U.S. 6th Fleet staff.

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