CTJF-HOA Sailors Teach Basic Seamanship Skills to Local Tanzanian Fishermen

By: LT Clint Phillips, Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, Team 115 Officer in Charge

(TANGA, Tanzania) Sailors deployed to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa facilitated a Basic Sea Survival class with fisherman along the northeastern district of Mkinga here August 7. The Sailors, members of Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, Team 115, are deployed to CJTF-HOA to help build lasting relationships with African partners and conduct Civil Affairs activities in support of the CJTF-HOA mission. The Maritime Civil Affairs Team has two complete iterations of the BSS since their arrival in Tanga in late May. The program though, was constructed after the MCAT identified local fishing villages and an enduring need to further survival skill sets within the local fishing community. “The fishermen have grown up in these water ways and know them very well. However, the survival basics every Sailor graduates boot camp with, is something that previously has not existed to them,” said BM1 (EXW) Gabriel Martinez, MCAT 115 Coxswain and BSS trainer. The BSS program incorporates skills such as CPR, sea survival swim strokes, celestial navigation, and navigation by compass. The class also incorporates basic knots and the use of clothes as a flotation device. Prior to the class, fisherman posses a basic knowledge of navigation by site of land, but many are unfamiliar with the usage of a compass and celestial navigation. “Many fishermen have been lost and scared, traveling as far north as Nairobi, before they were able to find land. Knowing how to find our way home using the stars will help us greatly,” said Said Hamad, a fisherman in the village of Moa. Since the inception of the program, the MCAT has received requests from other fishing villages to come teach BSS. Working with Partner Nation government officials, the MCAT identified the need to incorporate a new facet to the BSS program. The term, “train the trainer”, is prevalent throughout the U.S. Armed Services, its actions are key in building capacity in local Tanzanian areas. “In order to meet our Mission Objective of creating capacity, we must create an environment of shared learning and knowledge pass down to our Partner Nation. Where we no longer teach the class, but it falls on the graduates to pass this information on to other future students, with minimal MCAT support,” expressed ETC (EXW) Scott Nelson, MCAT 115 Team Chief and BSS instructor.

Local fishermen organize themselves into a governing body, which they refer to as Beach Masters Units. These units are responsible for tracking the departure and arrivals of sea going vessels from their respective villages. By coordinating with the BMU governing bodies, the MCAT identified several PN individuals who will receive more in-depth BSS training and become the Subject Matter Experts of their BMU. “Working with Tanzanian fishermen has been rewarding for our team,” said HM2 (FMF) Sergio Madrid, MCAT 115 team corpsman. “The better we can understand the people whose country we work in, the more successful we will be in accomplishing our mission.” Understanding the culture, communication practices and furthering the capacity of the Tanzanians is a key component to the Civil Affairs mission in Tanzania. MCAT 115 continues to working directly with the U.S. Embassy, the Government of Tanzania and other Partner Nation officials, in order to further strengthen the relationships held in the East African Community.

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