The team from Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) EURAFSWA Detachment Bahrain toured the USS Gladiator (MCM 11), one of four Mine Countermeasures ships home-ported in Bahrain. It was the first time the office had coordinated such a tour in at least four years, if not ever.
The tour was organized by Deputy Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Lauren Yutchishen and Gladiator commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Wolf as part of the growing relationship between the waterfront commands and the RLSO detachment. Planning the visit required significant coordination -- and jumping a few hurdles -- but it further strengthened the office's relationship with the waterfront commanding officers. The bull ensign and ship’s legal officer gave the RLSO team an in-depth, two hour tour of the ship. The team learned about the unique characteristics of the Gladiator, including its fiberglass and wooden hull, electric bow thrusters for increased maneuverability, and the unique metallic signature countermeasures the crew must take into consideration before going on mission.
The tour also included a walk-through of the bridge, the mess deck, and the wardroom. Throughout the tour, numerous crew members were eager and willing to share their expertise. The team viewed the variable-depth sonar system as it was being prepared for deployment, along with the Seafox drone as sailors geared up to launch the remotely operated vehicle. The tour guide explained the difference between mine hunting – locating and disarming a specified mine, and minesweeping – searching for mines without specific intelligence, and explained mechanical sweeps, in which the ship attempts to sever moored mines, versus influence sweeps, in which a sweep system (named Aggie and Iggy on the Gladiator) are towed behind the ship and simulate the passage of various types of target vessels to “fool” mines into detonating. The tour provided important operational context to the team's everyday legal work, and it concluded with a photo op. Ms. Hadeel Mohammed (front center), a key member of the RLSO staff, posed with a Rudis, a wooden sword presented to successful Roman gladiators as a symbol of their freedom. A metal legionnaires helmet is worn, as ship’s tradition mandated, by the senior-most member of the group, Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Kiessling.
"It was an amazing tour, and a great opportunity as an office to learn from other forward-deployed sailors and see their clear pride and expertise in their mission," said Yutchishen.