Services join to protect maritime assets
In recent history, the waters off the coast of East Africa have been dangerous for maritime operations and travel because of the prevalence of piracy in the area. Though much of the threat has been eliminated by diligent efforts of NATO forces in the area, there is still a viable threat to ships bringing vital supplies into Djibouti.
Members of the U.S. Navy, Army and Coast Guard stationed at Camp Lemonnier work in tandem with the Djibouti Coast Guard and Navy to provide security to ships using the local waters, ensuring the safety of the cargo and crew.
Ensuring the security of maritime assets using the port is a demanding task and involves several units including Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, Camp Lemonnier’s K9 section and the U.S. Navy’s Coastal Riverine Squadron-1.
U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Amanda Jenkins, Assistant Port Operations Officer, and her port operations team contribute their piece to the force-protection puzzle and share the responsibility of ensuring all the pieces run smoothly.
Jenkins ensures maritime assets entering the port are safe and secure every step of the way, she said.
During a port-security mission, U.S. Army Soldiers with the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division set up an entry control point providing security for the land side of the operation.
Meanwhile K9 and EOD teams search and clear the tug vessels which will make contact with the ship being escorted. Once at sea, the U.S. Navy’s CRS-1 takes the lead for maritime security and provides escort for the vessels, protecting against any waterborne threats.
“Here in Djibouti, when high value assets (U.S. or U.N.) pull in, our main job is to protect them from any terrorist threat or hostile activity,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Lenahan, a CRS-1 gunner’s mate.
Lenahan is a crew member aboard one of several SeaArk 34-foot Dauntless patrol boats tasked with protecting U.S. and coalition assets entering and exiting the port. These heavily armed patrol boats provide a physical deterrent to any potential threats posed to ships in the area. The squadron’s Sailors keep the ships and their crews safe from arrival to departure, a timeline which can vary greatly.
“Missions can range from a couple of days to weeks, depending on the asset,” said Lenahan, who is deployed here from San Diego.
U.S. and coalition forces rely on supplies to sustain the mission here in the Horn of Africa, and the bulk of these supplies arrive through the Port of Djibouti. The combined efforts of CJTF-HOA and Camp Lemonnier’s port security forces ensure the safety and security of the waterway.