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The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Billings (LCS 15) and Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel HMJS George William Gordon conducted a bilateral maritime exercise in the Caribbean Sea, Oct. 16, 2021.
The exercise commenced in three phases and helped to improve interoperability and demonstrate the strategic partnership with Jamaica that helps facilitate conducting naval operations against emerging threats in the region.
The ships practiced a series of tactical shipboard movements, formations, and vectoring and tested command and control capabilities.
Billings’ small boat was then used to simulate a drug smuggling vessel. Billings, George William Gordon, and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the “Snowmen” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Detachment 5, worked together to find, track and intercept the vessel, while it attempted evasion tactics.
Lastly, gunners from both vessels fired hundreds of rounds at a “killer tomato” floating training target, with Billings utilizing the M240B and .50-caliber machine gun and George William Gordon engaging with their .50-caliber machine gun.
“It was a great experience to participate in a bilateral training exercise with our partners of the Jamaican Defence Force,” said Cmdr. Brett Seeley, commanding officer of Billings. “It was impressive to have the mountainous skyline of the Jamaican coast as a backdrop to conducting a joint gunnery exercise and working alongside the HMJS George William Gordon and their Jamaican Defence Force helicopter allowed us to strengthen our tactical readiness and showed our commitment to our partners in the region.”
Bilateral engagements allow both navies to build capacity for future operations, maintain readiness at sea, and support continued efforts to ensure security and stability.
Billings is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.
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