How the Navy's small craft action teams defend US warships at sea

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How the Navy's small craft action teams defend US warships at sea

Navy sailor small craft action team

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  • Aboard US Navy warships, small group of sailors are tasked with defending the ship from threats posed by small ships or low-flying aircraft.
  • Members of the Small Craft Action Team have to know how to spot and identify threats as well as handle all the ship's mounted weapons.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

GULF OF ADEN (NNS) - Aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), a small group is trained to defend the ship in an emergency situation.

This group of sailors, the Small Craft Action Team (SCAT), provides a surge capability for reacting to an emergency security situation within the defensive perimeter of the ship, and has earned high-level praise for its integration with the Marines of the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

"SCAT is a team consisting of crew-served weapons machine gun operators that provide 360 degree coverage of the ship, an anti-terrorism tactical watch officer and a gunnery liaison officer," said Lt. j.g. Frank Smeeks, New York's anti-terrorism officer (ATO). "They are called away as a pre-planned response to threats the ship may face like a small boat attack or low, slow flyer."

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To be part of SCAT, a sailor has to be a part of the ship's Security Reaction Force (SRF). They must also be qualified in all gun mounts aboard the ship.

To be part of SCAT, a sailor has to be a part of the ship's Security Reaction Force (SRF). They must also be qualified in all gun mounts aboard the ship.

"A SCAT member has to be qualified to shoot both the M240 and M2HB machine guns," said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Adam Gilbert, a SCAT watch stander. "They must know how to properly identify contacts and how to properly report them."

"A SCAT member has to be qualified to shoot both the M240 and M2HB machine guns," said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Adam Gilbert, a SCAT watch stander. "They must know how to properly identify contacts and how to properly report them."

New York puts SCAT members through rigorous training to ensure they are ready for any situation.

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"They must receive extensive training on many topics to include use of force and rules of engagement, warning shots, contact reporting and tracking, and how to clear machine guns of any malfunctions or stoppages," said Smeeks.

"They must receive extensive training on many topics to include use of force and rules of engagement, warning shots, contact reporting and tracking, and how to clear machine guns of any malfunctions or stoppages," said Smeeks.

This training was put to test during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), a pre-deployment exercise during which embarked assessors from Carrier Strike Group 4 gave New York's SCAT the highest tier grade.

"During our training cycle, our SCAT performed extremely well," said Smeeks. "Our integration with green side was noted as being one of the best Carrier Strike Group 4 has seen on an amphibious ship."

"During our training cycle, our SCAT performed extremely well," said Smeeks. "Our integration with green side was noted as being one of the best Carrier Strike Group 4 has seen on an amphibious ship."
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Chief Gunner's Mate Sierra Karatali said the sailors and Marines onboard "have one common goal: Defend the ship."

Chief Gunner's Mate Sierra Karatali said the sailors and Marines onboard "have one common goal: Defend the ship."

"Training together allowed us to get to know one another and share techniques to make us better," she said. "We became one team, in one fight."

SCAT is an integral part of many evolutions aboard the ship.

SCAT is an integral part of many evolutions aboard the ship.

"If the ship is conducting a sea-and-anchor transit or a strait transit anywhere in the world, the SCAT team is employed during the entire transit, if not longer," said Gilbert.

"It is a 24/7 reaction force, day or night. The amount of precision SCAT member has to effectively employ our crew-served weapons as a team is amazing, and I am proud to be a member of the team."

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