Riverine Squadron 3 Deploys to Curacao

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Riverine Squadron 3 Deploys to Curacao

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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Williams
Release Date: 7/20/2011

CURACAO, Netherlands Antilles (NNS) -- Sailors from Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 3, Detachment 1, completed a three-week, cross-training in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles with elements of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and Navy, July 11.

This training was the second half of a total six-week cross-training schedule that began in March at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Designed primarily to give riverines and Dutch Marines a platform to share standard operation procedures and expertise, the training also gave RIVRON 3 a chance to examine how the Dutch perform amphibious operations from a sea-based command.

"The level of professionalism that the Dutch displayed really stood out to me. Watching the way they maneuvered their crafts, I can see that they take their jobs very seriously," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Shawn Graham, from RIVRON 3 Detachment 1. "They welcomed us and they allowed us to be a part of their operations. They really took the time to make sure that we understood what they do on a regular basis."

In May, riverines made history when they successfully completed the first Well Deck certification for their riverine command boat and the riverine patrol boat aboard the USS Oak Hill (LSD 51).

Detachment 1 Sailors closely observed how other militaries operated in coastal waterways to continue expanding the breadth of riverine mission capabilities.

"Seeing another detachment partner with the Oak Hill, performing well deck operations, proves that this is a very logical path for the Riverine force," said Lt. Michael Diehl, officer in charge of RIVRON 3, Detachment 1. "Even though riverines are capable of flying to new areas of operation, I don't think it will always be feasible based on mission and cost. By pairing up with other forces this increases our skill set and we will not only expand our capabilities, but also expand locations we are able to go and operate from."

During their stay on the island of Curacao, the 31-man riverine detachment adhered to a demanding training schedule provided by the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps leadership. Requiring a variety of mission tactics and skills, the training was intended to bring Sailors side-by-side with Dutch marines.

During the first phase of training, the riverines embarked onboard HNLMS Johan de Witt (L801), to observe first-hand how Dutch marines work together with the Dutch navy during amphibious operations.

"We planned two parts for this training," said Dutch marine Maj. Jort Vandenberg, amphibious operations officer on Johan de Witt. "The first part is getting underway with the Johan de Witt to observe the ships interaction with the Dutch marine boat company and the interaction between the different sub-units within the boat company."

For the second part of the training, the Dutch divided the detachment in two. The first group worked and trained alongside a Dutch marine small boat platoon to practice small boat operations at sea with the assistance of the Dutch Logistic Support Vessel HNLMS Pelikaan (A804).

"The other group was embarked aboard the Johan de Witt and viewed shipboard operations with the boat company," said Vandenberg. "They also watched as the marine embarked forces conducted Non-combatant Evacuation and Repatriation Operations (NEO) and small amphibious operations."

The cross-training between RIVRON 3 and the Dutch marines was an introduction to the exchange of capabilities between the two forces, that will be mutually beneficial for both of the units and their future capabilities, Vandenberg explained.

"We are relatively inexperienced with riverine training. The [U.S.] experience, especially in Iraq, provides a big treasure of information because it will help us decide what direction we want to go with our own riverine operations," added Vandenberg.

According Diehl, this deployment for the riverines gave them the opportunity to cultivate a partnership and observe a capable amphibious force that has a vision the riverines can use in the future.

"This partnership will give us a greater knowledge to come back with as we move forward with our own amphibious operations," said Diehl.

The Riverine Force, part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, is a combat-arms force that performs point defense, fire support and interdiction operations along inland water ways and support multinational forces across the spectrum of warfare.

For more news from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command , visit www.navy.mil/local/necc/.

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