Over the past seven years, the riverine- and maritime-security squadrons have demonstrated the utility and versatility of a well-trained, combat-oriented small-craft unit on both inland and coastal waterways. In Iraq, the riverines took over for the battle-proven Marine Corps small-craft companies and spent five years defending vital Iraqi inland waterways. The maritime-security squadrons defended major Iraqi oil terminals while aggressively employing surface and helicopter visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) units. Both types of units took on the challenge of coastal warfare and, based afloat and ashore, patrolled the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. While boat detachments conducted such operations, small riverine training teams traveled as far as Bangladesh and East Africa to provide subject-matter expertise to budding allied river and coastal units. And most recently, the riverines have begun to engage in training and partnership operations on both coastal and inland waterways with the nations of Latin America.
The Small-Craft Advantage
When it comes to executing missions in the littorals and rivers—especially in Latin America—and engaging with regional allies, no conventional-warfare unit is better suited than the Navy’s coastal riverine squadrons.
By Lieutenant Michael S. Proctor, U.S. Navy Reserve, and Commander Robert E. Poling, U.S. Navy