Aboard a warship, every sailor can make a contribution to the success of the mission at any moment. Sometimes, that contribution comes in the most unexpected way.
On 29 January, US Navy warship USS Dewey was conducting maritime security patrols in the North Arabian Sea under the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) counter-terrorism task force, Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150). Maritime security patrols ensure freedom of navigation by promoting safety and security at sea through positive interaction with vessels operating on the high seas. During these patrols, USS Dewey’s boarding team conducts regular visits to dhows, many of them posing a communication challenge. However, sailors are well known for their versatility, and Airman Varun Sangar from the US ship’s embarked helicopter squadron, proved this recently.
Ensign James McCullen, USS Dewey’s Officer of the Deck, said:
“Working with CTF-150 requires the ship to interact with seafarers from many different nationalities, so communication is key to mission success but we do not have an official translator embarked with us all the time. However, in one recent case, we were able to achieve success from within the Ship’s Company. After attempting to communicate with some of the vessels on bridge-to-bridge radio, it was evident that they spoke very little English. To add to the matter, none of the radio operators on watch onboard spoke Hindi, the dhow crew’s mother tongue.”
Step in Airman Varun Sangar from the embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73, who speaks Hindi, to act as a translator to communicate with the dhow.
Commander Mikael A Rockstad, the Commanding Officer of USS Dewey, said:
“Sailors in the Navy come from a wide variety of backgrounds; each providing the Navy with unique skills. When USS Dewey needed a Hindi translator to support our mission, Airman Sangar stepped up and used his skills to support the Command in assisting several dhows. We are proud to put all of our skills to good use in support of CTF-150 and CMF’s counter-terrorism operations.”
Thanks to Airman Sangar’s willingness to help his teammates out, Dewey was able to complete her mission more effectively, making sure that the dhows were conducting legitimate operations underway and not smuggling illicit cargo.