Bobo tests NATO's crisis responders
By Ed Baxter and Ensign Noel Koenig, SC, USN
Tension between the neighboring countries of Beechland and Oakland has reached a boiling point.
War, terrorism and genocide have erupted. Refugees are flooding across the nations' borders.
This was the scenario played out during a recent multinational military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.
Exercise Destined Glory 2005 tested NATO's multi-capable, Rapid Reaction Force's, ability to respond to this kind of international crisis. NATO created the RRF 2002 to provide a quick-response joint air, land and maritime force capable of deploying within five days, and operating up to a month without needing to resupply.
The exercise included more than 8,500 personnel, 38 ships and 60 aircraft from 10 NATO countries. Military Sealift Command's roll-on/roll-off ship MV 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo and the staff of Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One, or MPSRON One.
MSC's six-ship MPSRON One fleet carries enough combat equipment and supplies to support 15,000 U.S. Marines for up to 30 days in combat. The ships are commercial cargo vessels under long-term charter to the U.S. Navy. One ship carries cargo for the U.S. Air Force.
Bobo, the current flagship of MPSRON One, played multiple roles in Destined Glory. First, Bobo posed as a merchant vessel, suspected of harboring dangerous cargo or terrorists, being tracked and boarded by military forces. Next, the ship acted as a high interest vessel which warships trained to protect from attack in volatile areas."MV 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo not only represents a substantial contribution to joint warfighting...but has also been a very valuable participant in this exercise."
-Rear Adm David Cooke, Royal Navy
Deputy Commander, NATO Strike Forces
Foremost, the exercise tested NATO's communication skills, the organization's interoperability and the compatibility of multinational troops.
The exercise, NATO's largest this year, took place Sept. 30 - Oct. 14, off the coast of Sardinia, Italy. Participating nations included the U.S., Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
For Bobo, the exercise kicked off Oct. 3, when the German submarine U-15 monitored Bobo's movements and activities. The following day, Bobo was once again a target of interest as the Greek frigate HS Kanaris deployed commandos who boarded the ship by fast boat, searching for illicit cargo or enemy forces.
Overnight, Bobo was escorted by the French warship FS Durand De La Penne through a sector designated as highly dangerous.
The following day, Bobo joined the Italian aircraft carrier ITS Garibaldi, with NATO air and maritime forces protecting them from an enemy air attack.
Later, the Spanish ship SPS Renia Sofia contacted Bobo by radio, informing the ship of their intentions to board. Teams then boarded Bobo by small boat, searching the ship and its cargo.
On Oct. 10, Bobo, under the fictitious name MV Little Deuce, was boarded by Special Forces from USS Mitscher. Teams stormed the ship, seized the bridge, isolated crew members and queried the ship's master about the ship's cargo and destination.
Later that day, Bobo hosted the deputy commander of NATO Strike Forces, British Rear Adm. David Cooke, RN, who was given a tour of the ship by MPSRON One's chief staff officer Lt. Cmdr. Erich Schmidt, USN, and ship's master Capt. Don Pigott.
"MV 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo not only represents a substantial contribution to joint war fighting through a very impressive quantity of equipment carried on board, but has also been a very valuable participant in the exercise," Rear Adm. Cooke said. "She has provided excellent training opportunities for participating ships, and her enthusiasm and professionalism has been a pleasure to witness."
On Oct. 11, assuming the name MV Sloop John B, Bobo headed southwest, while being shadowed by NATO's maritime forces. Sloop John B was observed transferring unknown contraband onto a coastal freighter bound for the coast.
Further, several members of MPSRON One staff were embarked on the U.S. 6th Fleet command ship USS Mount Whitney, participating in the Maritime Prepositioning Force planning portion of Destined Glory 2005.
Along with representatives from the Second Marine Expeditionary Force, or II MEF, Naval Beach Group Two, and Amphibious Group Two, the team trained in planning and simulating a full off-load of MPSRON ONE vessels should they be required to respond to a crisis similar to the scenarios being acted out in the exercise.
The annual exercise, which will be renamed Loyal Midas next year, is led by NATO's Joint Command, Lisbon, Portugal.
Bobo and other MPSRON One squadron ships, have participated in six exercises in the European theater this year.