The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) and the Dominican Republic Navy conducted a bilateral maritime interdiction exercise off the coast of Santo Domingo, Oct. 30. During the exercise, Sioux City deployed her 11-meter rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) and MH-60S Sea Hawk attached to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 4 while the Dominican navy participated with coastal patrol vessel Orion (GC 109) and Boston Whaler interceptor patrol boat Regulus (LI 165). The ships worked together to find, track and intercept the simulated “vessel of interest. ”They practiced two different interdiction scenarios, the first conducting an air pursuit of the vessel with Sioux City’s helicopter and second intercepting with the surface vessels.
The ships also practiced a series of tactical shipboard movements and formations and tested maritime command and control capabilities. Bilateral engagements allow both navies to strengthen tactical readiness for future operations, maintain readiness at sea, and support continued commitment to security and stability in the region. Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
The professional mariners from the Dominican Republic are truly a pleasure to work with,” said Cmdr. Brad Tonder, commanding officer of Sioux City. “These partner nation engagements are a great way to keep our teams proficient and ensure we can effectively conduct real world interdiction missions as a team when the need arises.”
“The strength and fortitude of these nations as they tactically maneuvered and swiftly executed the mission, created a perfect image of what interoperability is supposed to look like,” said Lt. Sarah Shaeffer, HSC-22 Det. 4.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region. It is an organizational fleet staffed to fulfill a planning and coordination mission; as part of its 2008 reestablishment, no vessels are permanently assigned to the Fourth Fleet. Ships home-ported in the United States Fleet Forces Command and United States Third Fleet routinely deploy to the Fourth Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), during which time they are under the operational control of the Fourth Fleet commander. The U.S. Fourth Fleet is the Naval Component Command of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). It is headquartered at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida.