Story Number: NNS140820-08Release Date: 8/20/2014 3:01:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Europe
BATUMI, Georgia (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) completed a two day port visit to Batumi, Georgia, Aug. 20.
Vella Gulf's mission in the Black Sea is to work with NATO allies and European partners, demonstrating the United States' commitment to strengthening and improving interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region.
While in Batumi, Vella Gulf provided guided tours, hosted a reception for Georgian dignitaries and conducted a joint training event. Vella Gulf participated in a flag signaling exercise with the Georgia Coast Guard following her departure.
The reception, which was held on Vella Gulf's flight deck Aug. 18, hosted distinguished guests including Prime Minister of the Republic of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, and U.S. ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland.
A day of joint training exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard and guided tours followed.
The training focused on visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) tactics, damage control, and NATO flag signaling.
The VBSS training focused on different techniques for boarding and clearing a target ship, as well as how to detain and search a suspect. Following the VBSS training, flag signaling training was held on the ship's bridge.
Quartermaster 2nd Class Todd Marriot trained Georgian sailors how to communicate between ships using the standardized NATO flag signaling system.
"This was my first time training sailors from another country," said Marriot. "It was an honor for me to show them what we do, not only so they can learn from us, but so we can learn from them."
During damage control training, Georgian sailors observed the proper use of the U.S. Navy firefighting ensemble and pipe patching techniques. They also toured damage control central, the nerve center of Vella Gulf's damage control operations.
Damage Controlman 1st Class Jon Gerringer said even though there was a small language barrier, he feels the training was productive and was glad to work with the Georgian Coast Guard.
After the training, the Minister of Defense for the Republic of Georgia, Iraklii Alasania, was welcomed aboard for a private tour of Vella Gulf.
The port visit culminated in a signaling exercise following Vella Gulf's departure. The Georgian Coast Guard patrol ships Tsonte Dadiani (P-101) and General Mazniashvili (P-102) participated. All vessels cruised in a line, 500 yards abreast, and communicated with each other, sending and receiving messages using only flags.
"The (exercise) conducted today with the Georgian Coast Guard was a great opportunity to reinforce the important training," said Capt. Robert Katz, Vella Gulf's commanding officer. "A dedicated relationship with partners such as Georgia demonstrates our commitment to the collective stability and security of the Black Sea."
Vella Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is conducting naval operations with allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in order to advance security and stability in Europe.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency pertners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.