By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Brown navy.mil
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) — Sailors assigned to the Pre-Commissioning Unit Arlington (LPD 24) successfully completed the four-day Afloat Training Group (ATG) Atlantic’s Antiterrorism Basic Phase Verification 1.3 and 1.4 January 31.
“We tested armed watchstanders’ responses to terrorist threats on the pier, on the ship and from the water, including penetration from vehicle-borne IEDs, personnel carrying explosive devices, active shooter and hostage situations, bomb threats, and small boat and swimmer attacks,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Robert Mueller, the lead assessment trainer for the six members of ATG Atlantic who conducted the assessment. “It was very obvious that Arlington Sailors have put the time into planning and training for this. Overall, Arlington did outstanding, and will be recommended to Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet for certification.”
During the 1.3 part of the assessment, from Jan. 28-30, ATG inspectors evaluated Arlington’s security forces during drills. The 1.4 final certification took place on the last day, while the ship is under construction at Huntington-Ingalls Industries’ shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.
“We have been preparing for this for more than six months,” said Lt. Scott Richards, Arlington’s antiterrorism officer. “We started when most of the crew was stationed at the precommissioning detachment on Naval Station Norfolk, Va., qualifying more than 225 Sailors for Armed Sentry/Security Reaction Force – Basic, and more than 30 Armed Sentry/Security Reaction Force – Advanced.”
Arlington Sailors have also completed small arms and crew-served weapons courses, qualifying on the 9 mm. pistol, M-16 rifle, .50 caliber rifle, M500 shotgun and M240B machine gun.
“While we were in Norfolk, our training was largely classroom training that was lecture-based and focused on antiterrorism theory and Department of Defense instructions and policy,” said Richards. “After the crew arrived in Pascagoula, we took advantage of Singing River Island’s facilities to get more hand-on training.
“However, the all-around antiterrorism/force protection training didn’t really get going until we moved aboard the ship following delivery to the U.S. Navy on Dec. 7, 2012. Being on the ship we are charged to defend provided the best training opportunities possible.”
The amphibious transport dock Sailors’ months of hard work paid off when ATG’s antiterrorism training inspectors gave the crew a grade of 95 percent – said to be the highest given to any ship in recent memory.
“Even though we’ve been aboard the ship and operating for less than two months, we performed like a ship that has been on deployment, standing post on foreign soil for the past nine months,” said Richards. “We did extremely well because of all the drilling we have done, our enthusiasm, and because our command’s antiterrorism training team (ATTT) really did a great job setting up our crew ready for success.”
Arlington’s executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Eric Lull, agreed that the ship’s outstanding performance in this critical inspection was due largely to the efforts of the ATTT.
“Our ATTT proved themselves very capable and proficient in getting our armed watchstanders to where they needed to be for this,” said Lull. “This certification makes us more self-sufficient at force protection, and puts us one step closer to being an operational unit in the U.S. Navy.”
The ship is named for Arlington County, Va., home of the Pentagon, in honor of the 184 victims and heroes who lost their lives during the terrorist attack there on 9-11.
Arlington is the eighth in the Navy’s San Antonio class of ships, designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessels ever put to sea. The third in the U.S. fleet to bear the name, Arlington will be commissioned on April 6, 2013 and homeported in Norfolk, Va. The ship combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and will be capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines into harm’s way.
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