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U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operate a rigid-hull inflatable boat during visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training in the Chesapeake Bay, off the coast of Virginia, Oct. 30, 2023. The VBSS course teaches Marines with MSPF and Battalion Landing Team 1/8 how to properly conduct vessel boarding procedures and maritime interdiction operations while underway with the 24th MEU. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsammy)

Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. (November 17, 2023): Given the recent seizures of private vessels by Iran-back Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen, the U.S. Navy has ramped up training to go into action should these violations continue. In this photo by Corporal Ryan Ramsammy, Marines with Battalion Landing Team 1/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit race along in their rigid-hull inflatable boat during visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) training off Chesapeake Bay. This VBSS course teaches Marines how to properly board suspicious vessels and the procedures and maritime rules for interdicting vessels in international waters. Not everyone measures up as the school has a wash-out rate around thirty percent.

VBSS teams are designed to capture enemy vessels involved in terrorism, piracy, and smuggling and to conduct customs or safety inspections. To qualify, candidates must pass three courses lasting eight weeks each as well as follow on training. Students are taught Close Quarters Battle skills, hand-to-hand combat tactics, search methods, and arrest procedures. The teams practice tactical movements including rappelling from helicopters onto suspect vessels.

Team members are typically armed with M4 carbinesMossberg 500 shotguns, and Beretta M9 pistols. Body armor is especially important and includes Kevlar ballistic plate inserts and a buoyant tactical vest that doubles as a life preserver

These daring teams are part of a comprehensive effort by the United States to maintain security and freedom of seas worldwide.