By MC3 Janweb B. Lagazo
USS Mason (DDG 87) Public Affairs

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) participated with the French Marine Nationale's Horizon-class air defence destroyer FS Forbin (D 620) in a bilateral Maritime Security Operation (MSO) exercise, July 2.

The exercise allowed for members of the U.S. ships' visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) teams and France's Equipe de Visite team to simulate compliant and non-compliant anti-piracy and anti-smuggling MSOs - an effort to work collectively with partnering maritime forces to safeguard vital links to the global economy.

"Working with other nations is something we are very attached to," said Lt.j.g. Eric, French liason officer aboard Mason. "The U.S. is our ally and we are used to working with them. Every time we work together, it adds more security for safer navigation around the world."

Eric continued to stress the importance for the two countries "to work together in determining if there is a threat in the Red Sea to navigation." He explained with France and the United States working together, there will be an "increase in information" that will lead to efficiency.

MSOs are conducted under international maritime conventions to promote a secure and stable regional economy. At the same time, it also complements counterterrorism and anti-piracy efforts of regional nations.

"I think [MSO] is part of an international solution," said Eric. "It is there to protect our ships' navigational lanes."

The United States has supported counterterrorism activities of regional navies and coast guards through exercises, training and coordinated operations with Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). CMF is a multinational naval partnership which exists to promote security, stability and prosperity by focusing on defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, encouraging regional cooperation, and promoting a safe maritime environment.

"With piracy and smuggling on the rise, VBSS teams are more important than ever," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Robert Nette, Mason's VBSS training petty officer. "Mason's [VBSS] team is ready to confront any challenge and address every situation to perform efficiently and above par."

Mason has worked with four of the 31 member nations in CMF since beginning their scheduled deployment - Italy, Greece, Turkey, and France.

"It's always a privilege to work with allies as proficient as [France]," said Nette, "Working in tandem with the French, who are very close allies, allowed us to expand our tactics and horizon. It makes transitions smoother and increases our combat readiness." 

Nette continued to explain that the joint exercise "was a good way to knock off some rust" and allowed Mason to "improve for real-world scenarios."

"It's been interesting being on Mason because it shows a different way of doing things," said Eric. "It's always interesting to learn new things from other navies, especially the U.S. Navy. I've enjoyed my time here and I hope to see further cooperation between our ships."

Along with Mason, Ike CSG includes CSG 10 staff, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 staff, aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, guided-missile cruisers San Jacinto and USS Monterey (CG 61), and DESRON 26 ships guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55), Roosevelt and USS Nitze (DDG 94).