In the News

Training to Defend

By PO3 Andrew Waters

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Standing watch is a large part of a deployed Sailor’s life. At any given time, there will always be Sailors on watch aboard a U.S. Naval vessel, whether on the quarterdeck to ring on a visiting admiral, topside on rover watch, or on the missile deck as the aft-lookout.

Through the Naval security force sentry (NSFS) and security reaction force basic (SRF-B) training that concluded March 4, 2020, 22 Sailors aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) became qualified, armed watchstanders as part of the ship’s security reaction force.

“It’s important that our watchstanders are properly trained to handle themselves in a worst case situation,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Patrick Mclean, lead instructor for NSFS and SRF-B aboard Vella Gulf. “We want to give watchstanders the skills to protect themselves, their ship, and their shipmates.”

NSFS and SRF-B cover a wide variety of skills for watchstanding such as training on non-lethal weapons, gun qualifications, unarmed self-defense, use of force, common terrorist tactics, tactical team movements, room entry and clearing, and working together as a team to respond to a security alert.

Sailors must go through a combat scenario course while under the effects of OC spray. During the OC course, Sailors will be sprayed with OC and then must demonstrate how to use a security baton, perform proper strikes and takedowns, and fight off an opponent while under stress.

“The OC course is one of our most important training courses because it shows the effects of OC and demonstrates how severe pain can limit your ability to employ force and maintain mental focus,” said Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) 1st Class Dylan M. Burg, a member of Vella Gulf’s Antiterrorism Training Team and the “red man” for the OC course. (A “red man” wears a red foam suit and engages in one-on-one combat with trainees.)

“I try to focus on proper use of technique for their strikes,” said Burg. “If they are not employing proper techniques, I will ignore any actions they do until they do it properly in order to test them.”

The 22 newly-qualified Sailors will add more versatility to the shipboard watch bills, enable Sailors to qualify for higher watch duties, and allow for more armed Sailors to respond to any crisis to defend Vella Gulf.