Phoenix Express 2011 Helps Prevent the Distribution of Components used to build Weapons of Mass Destruction

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) -- An international maritime interdiction operations (MIO) team participating in Phoenix Express 2011 (PE-11) executed a boarding scenario June 10 that supported the aims of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

PSI is a global cooperative effort that aims to stop trafficking in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials. PE-11 provided an opportunity to train multinational maritime interdiction operations (MIO) teams on how to interdict these materials being illegally transported by sea.

PE-11 is providing a platform for training in communication, from the command elements down to the teams boarding ships, so that MIO teams will have the information they need to conduct counter-proliferation interdiction operations. PSI is designed to stop WMD proliferation by promoting proactive information sharing and enabling development of capabilities and authorities to enable coordinated action.

“This is an international cooperative effort to stop the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from state and non-state actors of proliferation concern,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Ruppert, assessment officer for PE-11, whose rate is being withheld upon request.

The PSI is an activity, not an organization, and participation is voluntary: each participating nation decides whether and how to engage on a case-by-case basis.

During PE-11, the MIO teams from the PSI-endorsing country of Morocco conducted a boarding to interdict a shipment of simulated dual use components on a target ship.

“WMD-related trafficking threatens the citizens of all countries,” said Royal Morocco armed forces Lt. Amine Khalid, Morocco MIO team leader attached to RMS Hassan II. “Defeating this threat requires proactive information sharing, and when necessary, coordinated action.”

In addition, nations also commit to work toward strengthening legal authorities in support of WMD-related interdictions.

Since it was first proposed by the President of the United States in May 2003, the PSI has generated broad international cooperation resulting in endorsement by 98 nations. Pacific Protector ’03, led by Australia, was the first example of this cooperation and was a maritime interdiction training exercise conducted in the Western Pacific Ocean in September 2003.

“PSI participation is voluntary – each participating state decides on a case-by-case basis whether and how to engage, said Petty Officer 2nd Class David McClurg, assessment officer for PE 11, whose rate is being withheld upon request.

“To date, 98 countries have indicated their support of the PSI by endorsing the Statement of Interdiction Principles.”
More than 40 exercises incorporating PSI-related activities have been conducted since the drafting of the Statement of Interdiction Principles in September 2003.

“PSI exercises establish interoperability among PSI participants and impart useful skills and experience relevant to other duties for all international personnel involved,” said Ruppert.

U.S. units participating in Phoenix Express include USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29), USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) and Military Sealift Command's maritime prepositioning ship USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat (T-AK 3016) and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198).

Additional U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa staff personnel are also participating in this exercise alongside navies and armed forces personnel from Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit

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International Cooperation

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Military-to-Military Engagement Program

AUGUSTA BAY, Sicily (March 16, 2011) - USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20), the U.S. Sixth Fleet flag ship homeported out of Gaeta, Italy, and USS Ponce (LPD 15), an amphibious transport dock ship homeported out of Norfolk, Va., take on supplies while inport Augusta Bay, Sicily. Both ships are operating in the Mediterranean Sea as part of a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary Keen/Released)

U.S. Naval Forces Europe

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