The initial elements of the Iraqi Navy patrol fleet, including new ships and trained crews, are the latest tangible evidence of the efforts of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Navy at Umm Qasr, Iraq.

The arrival of four Italian-made patrol boats over the past year represents the completion of the first phase in launching the Iraqi Navy. The Iraqi naval fleet will develop even more robust maritime capabilities with the arrival of another 15 patrol boats from the United States next month.

The first of the Italian-made patrol ships, the Fatah (IqN 702) arrived in last August. The Fatah was followed three months later by the Nasir (IqN 701); and in February the Majed (IqN 703) and Shomokh (IqN 704) arrived.

An eight-person U.S. Navy-led training team, which includes an interpreter, instructed the Iraqi patrol vessel crews in seven basic areas of operations, according to Lt. Lars Lone, USN patrol ship training officer for ITAM-Navy Umm Qasr.

"The patrol ship program covers the same topics taught by the U.S. Navy to U.S. Sailors," Lone said. "These areas of training are seamanship, navigation, weapons handling, anchoring, fire-fighting, damage control and engineering casualty control."
The best part of the program has been the interaction with the Iraqi Navy Sailors, especially when going to sea, according to Lone.

"Very few persons in the U.S. Navy can say they have gone to sea on an Iraqi capital ship," Lone said. "Relationship-building was very important. At first, on the Fatah it was all-business so we struggled. Then we played soccer with them. Afterwards, we were no longer viewed as businessmen, but as friends."

"If you get the opportunity," he said. "Take the time to learn about the Iraqi people, because there are many good things to learn. My perception of the Iraqi people has changed dramatically since I have been here."

Page last updated Wed August 18th, 2010 at 06:33