Multilateral Maritime Interdiction Exercise Begins

ROTA, Spain (October 14, 2003) - The guided missile frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47) and a P-3 surveillance aircraft from Patrol Squadron TEN (VP-10) operating out of Sigonella, Sicily, recently joined naval assets from six other nations to begin SANSO 03, a multilateral maritime interdiction training exercise in the Mediterranean. The four-day exercise, led by Spain, is part of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a collaborative effort to take active measures against trafficking in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern around the world.

In addition to Spain and the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom are contributing assets to SANSO 03 while other PSI countries -- Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and Poland -- will participate as observers for this exercise.

Although PSI participants are capable and ready to execute interdiction operations against such trafficking today, the 11 partner nations have agreed to a series of interdiction training exercises to improve capabilities and interoperability. Seven other PSI exercises are currently being planned for the remainder of 2003 and the first few months of 2004. The first exercise in the PSI series, Pacific Protector, was led by Australia and conducted in mid-September in the Coral Sea.

Nicholas, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is currently performing a Mediterranean deployment. They have previously visited St. Petersburg, Russia, and Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ship is commanded by Commander Chan Swallow.

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