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Navy practices terrorist response

Annual exercise held near Naval Station Mayport

MAYPORT, Fla. – If a small boat attacks the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, its sailors will be ready.

The crew conducted anti-terrorism exercises Tuesday, putting a focus on small boat attacks. 

Across the country, approximately 300 training events on and off Navy installations took place under Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2017 between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10. 

This was a regularly scheduled exercise and not in response to any specific threat. The exercise is designed to train Navy security forces to respond to threats to installations and units. 

"A lot of moving parts, a lot of things have to go into place," said Lt. Mathew Clark, a security officer on the U.S.S. Iwo Jima. "If we're attached to the pier, then we rely a lot on the installation to help us. But if we're out there steaming, making our own power, we can get away from trouble just as fast as we can get into it."

In this case, they were docked at Naval Station Mayport, so it was all hands on deck as simulated gunfire erupted. The two-week exercise includes local agencies like Jacksonville Fire and Rescue and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

During the exercise, they also trained for a mass casualty scenario, treating those who were injured, and quickly transporting them to safety.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Fire and Rescue, Federal Bureau of Investigations and other local agencies took part in the collaborative exercises.

"They're trying to communicate efforts between the medical providers and medical responders," Clark said.

More than 1,000 sailors and marines at Naval Station Mayport were involved in Tuesday's training. After the exercise, there will be a briefing on how successful the response was, and if any changes or improvements need to be made.