The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13), the Dominican Republic coastal patrol vessel Altair (GC-112), and Dominican Republic Boston Whaler interceptor patrol boat Duhbe (LI-164) conduct a bilateral maritime interdiction exercise, May 5, 2022. (Photo: U.S. Navy Aerographer’s Mate First Class Jonathan Richards)

BY U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet May 12, 2022

During the exercise, Wichita deployed her 11-meter rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) and MH-60S Sea Hawk attached to the “Brick Bandits” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Detachment 6, while the Dominican Navy participated with coastal patrol vessel Altair (GC-112) and Boston Whaler interceptor patrol boat Duhbe (LI-164).

The ships worked together to find, track, and intercept the simulated “vessel of interest.” They practiced two different interdiction scenarios, the first conducting an air pursuit of the vessel with Wichita’s helicopter and the second intercepting utilizing surface vessels.

The ships also practiced a series of tactical shipboard movements and formations and tested maritime command and control capabilities.

“This exercise was great training for our team across the board,” said U.S. Navy Commander Daniel Reiher, Wichita’s commanding officer. “Practicing interdictions with our partner nations enables us to be more prepared and able to work together efficiently in the event of real world operations.”

Bilateral engagements allow both navies to strengthen tactical readiness for future operations, maintain readiness at sea, and support continued commitment to security and stability in the region.

Wichita is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes countering 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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