PORTLAND – The view from the Eastern Promenade this week more closely resembles a scene from a James Bond movie than a Maine harbor.

Two patrol boats can be seen racing after two smaller boats, sirens blaring and blue lights flashing, while a 46-foot platform boat floats farther off in Casco Bay. There is a lot of splashing. The pleasure boats and ferries passing by appear to be barely moving.

The waters between East End Beach and Mackworth Island near Pomeroy Rock have been turned into a high-speed training ground for the Montenegro navy and marine police, with Mainers teaching the Montenegrins special maneuvers used to secure a coastal area.

“We are learning a lot, ” said Zoran Lasica, a chief superintendent first class with the Montenegrin marine police.

The training is offered through a National Guard program that links each state’s Guard unit with a foreign country to help them be prepared for military interventions and natural disasters.

Maine became partners with Montenegro in 2007, a year after the small Balkan country across from the heel of Italy’s boot broke away from Serbia to become an independent country.


The Maine National Guard has an officer, Capt. Darrell Davis of Kennebunk, stationed in Montenegro as a liaison with the Montenegrin department of defense, said National Guard Capt. Scott Lewis, director of the state partnership program. The marine training is one of about 20 different sessions provided by the Maine National Guard to date.

“They show us how they do things and we show them how we do things,” said Maine National Guard Capt. Mitch Bailey.

The program is funded by the Department of Defense and the National Guard, which paid for the training through the Bureau of Marine Patrol at the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

“The goal is to get these countries to become members of NATO,” Lewis said.

Montenegro was a good match for Maine, said Bailey, who helped train the visitors this week. Although the country is only the size of Connecticut, its rugged coastline along the Adriatic Sea is similar to Maine’s. Montenegro’s economy is also heavily tourism-based.

On Wednesday, the Montenegrins said they felt very much at home in Casco Bay.


“The weather is beautiful. We really feel we are in Montenegro,” said navy Capt. Zeljko Hercegova, speaking his native language, which was translated by Marina Koljensic.

The Montenegrin navy is tiny compared to the U.S. fleet, with only 20 vessels. The Maine Marine Patrol has a fleet of more than 30 vessels.

Maine Marine Patrol Col. Joseph Fessenden said working with the Montenegrins has been beneficial for his officers because it has allowed them to practice their skills and train with their equipment.

Last winter, Maine Marine Patrol personnel spent five days in Montenegro to provide similar training.

“It was pretty interesting. They were pretty green,” Fessenden said.

On Wednesday it was clear the visitors had come a long way as they took turns operating 28-foot Protectors — hard-bottom inflatable power boats speeding up to 60 mph and turning on a dime while chasing away two smaller high-speed inflatables. These are maneuvers patrol officers would use if necessary to protect visiting dignitaries such as vacationing Bushes in Kennebunkport and, most recently, President Obama and his family at Acadia National Park, said Maine Marine Patrol Sgt. Daryen Granata.


After another round of maneuvers today on Casco Bay, the Montenegrins will leave for home on Friday.

“We appreciate all of this,” said Hercegova.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]



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