Coastal Riverine Squadron Eight, out of Naval Station Newport, R.I., assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, protects U.S. assets as they enter or leave Djibouti’s port.
To deter attacks like the October 2000 suicide bombing of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole— an attack that killed 17 sailors and wounded 37— the Newport, R.I.-based CRS-8 provides security with SeaArk Dauntless patrol boats.
“We provide escort service (for the ships), providing security as they come in and as they go out, and when they go pier side. We provide static defense, that’s our main function,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James Padden, CRS-8 boat captain. “It all stems from the USS Cole. We are here to prevent that from happening.”
In order for the boats to get to where they need to be, the 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment from the Florida Army National Guard out of Hollywood, Fla., (also assigned to CJTF-HOA) helps the U.S. Navy provide security to and from the waters.
“It’s a great experience. The joint environment gets the soldiers to see something other than the Army (while) being able to help somebody and knowing our part in the overall big picture,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Molgado, Alpha Company, 1/124th Inf. Rgt., convoy commander.
The water off the coast of East Africa is known for having a dangerous history of violence resulting in hazardous maritime operations and travel, and the CRS helps create a protective shield around the ships, said Padden.
“(Our mission) impacts the world because our presence means there’s no threat to the ships so they can safely navigate the waters,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Pasay, CRS-8 radio transmission operator and navigator.
The soldiers and sailors work together to support the mission of safe movement and access for U.S. assets traveling the waters in Djibouti’s port.
“We all play a big role in general because of what we do. It supports bigger operations, missions and the bigger picture overall,” said Molgado. “I feel we all do our job to the standard and do the right thing. We are going to get the job done and help out the efforts here on HOA.”