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    VBSS School Basics



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Boris 

    All Hands Magazine

    The Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) instructors deep dive into the requirements, expectations, and experiences held at the Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) school.
    VBSS consists of volunteer Sailors of any Navy rate who participate in maritime boarding actions and tactics. Teams specialize in capturing enemy vessels, anti-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, conducting customs, safety, and other shipboard inspections.
    “VBSS is used to combat trafficking, drug traffic, piracy, and smuggling and recently to combat the Somalian pirates,” said Chief Torpedoman’s Mate Paul Logan, instructor CENSECFOR. “The school house mission is to ensure the Sailors and the fleet can enforce the security tactics used not only to protect our assets but also our Sailors.”
    Becoming a part of the VBSS team requires the completion of two different security reaction force schools, the ability to climb a 30-foot steel cable ladder, and a class two swimmer qualification.
    “Most students come in without understanding how challenging some of the aspects of operating in water can be,” said Logan. “On week two we have a pool day which involves learning to swim with drags and carries to save other personnel on your team. They also have to climb that steel cable ladder, but from a moving rigid inflatable boat in the water. I think people underestimate how challenging that can be.”
    Most students have little to no experience being a part of a boarding team when they first show up at the CENSECFOR school house.
    “CENSECFOR fulfills the mission for VBSS by taking these students that generally have no real experience in being a part of a boarding team,” said Master-At-Arms 1st Class David Werlinger, course supervisor for the VBSS, noncompliant and boarding officer courses. “We give them the tools, tricks, and all the information to be able to go out there, join a team out at sea and be able to conduct those missions properly and safely.”
    VBSS school is three weeks long. It’s structured in a crawl, walk and run course starting in the classroom, providing education information on the VBSS mission set, successfully climbing the steel cable ladder, marksmanship fundamentals, and understanding what’s needed to conduct the mission set before entering a qualifying live-fire exercise ensuring students have obtained the lessons taught throughout the first week.
    “[The curriculum] starts with introductions, then we go into the basics of the VBSS mission set, then we go outside and prove you can climb the 30-foot steel cable ladder and our attrition rate for that is about five percent,” said Logan. “Then week two is mostly tactics.”
    During the second week of VBSS school, students learn the basics of entering rooms, clearing hallways, and carrying out how to conduct an entire mission profile of a vessel. Instructors go over defense tactics with the students throughout the week. These consist of a lot of hand-to-hand combat, weapon retention, and personnel control.
    “Week three we put it all together and we evaluate the students based on what they’ve learned for the first two weeks,” said Logan. “One day will be scenarios that are compliant, the next day will be scenarios that are less than compliant, and then that final day is all graded out scenarios.”
    After students graduate from the course and are released to their respective VBSS teams with the understanding of their mission set, the instructors hope the students will quickly adapt to their new team to accomplish their jobs safely and efficiently.
    “What I want them to take from the course is the stress and uncomfortable feelings they felt while in this class,” said Logan. “We should be raising our bar in the fleet to a level of excellence. Once we get back to that level of excellence, maybe future endeavors in regards to interactions with other countries that aren’t necessarily peaceful have a better chance of success.



    Date Taken: 07.07.2022
    Date Posted: 12.28.2022 11:14
    Story ID: 435960
    Location: FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MD, US
    Hometown: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, US

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