GULF OF OMAN (April 20, 2011) — The visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team aboard guided- missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) conducted an approach and visit operation in the Gulf of Oman, April 5, for the first time, with its own translator.
Operations Specialist 1st Class Christopher Kashou, a new member of the VBSS team aboard Bulkeley, is a Palestinian-American who grew up speaking Arabic.
“OS1 has become our hero here! His first trip out with the VBSS team proved to be a huge success since we were able to use his language skills to our advantage,” said Ensign Michael Seymour, Bulkeley’s boarding officer.
When VBSS members conduct maritime operations with small vessels or boats in foreign waters, they often encounter non-English speaking mariners. The VBSS team members are taught a few Arabic phrases, but the team benefits greatly from having someone who can understand what people are saying and speak to them fluently.
“It feels good to be contributing to the [U.S. Navy’s] ‘global force for good’ with the skills I was taught as a child. Arabic is a skill I am lucky to have, and I am thrilled to be a part of the VBSS team, helping them communicate with people who speak Arabic,” said Kashou.
Seymour said there would have been little dialogue between the VBSS team members and the fishermen if Seymour had not joined the team.
“We are really lucky to have Kashou aboard the Bulkeley. Without him, we would have run into a communication barrier between us and the fishermen yesterday.” said Seymour. “I truly believe without Sailors like Kashou, the Navy would not be as strong as it is today.”
Bulkeley is part of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG), conducting maritime security operations on a routine deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Enterprise (CSG) consists USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the guided-missile cruisers Bulkeley and USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), the guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.