Harry S. Truman CSG ships blast off during live-fire drills

USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) launches a SM-2 missile during a live-fire exercise on Nov. 1, 2017. Photo: US Navy

Cruisers and destroyers responsible for protecting the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) honed their sharpshooting skills in multiple live-fire exercises, testing both sailors and equipment.

The drill took place November 1, shortly after USS Harry S. Truman and surface ships from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8 met to start their first group sail since July 2016.

During the evolution, three unmanned aircraft were used to simulate enemy missiles being fired at Truman from shore. USS Normandy (CG 60) intercepted the first and second, firing two Standard Missile (SM) 2s, while Truman utilized its Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system to destroy the third.

Additionally, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) also successfully used SM-2s to perform surface-to-air intercepts during simultaneous, independent exercises.

“Integration and planning began several months ago with involvement from several commands and organizations,” said Truman’s operations officer, Capt. Brent Tornga. “To properly flex the combat systems, we integrated warfighting and technical expertise with administrative and operational support, culminating in the tactical scenario that we executed successfully today.”

According to Chief Fire Controlman Harold Vernon, Truman’s CS7 division leading chief petty officer, the test conducted by CSG-8 was a fleet exercise procedure (FXP) designed to assess the ability of the ship to defend itself in an emissions condition utilizing radar data from our guard ship.

“This missile exercise proves to our sailors that their weapon systems work and that they themselves are capable of employing them,” said Normandy Commanding Officer, Capt. Derek Trinque. “That’s a significant step in being ready to deploy anywhere on the planet; ready to carry out any missions we might be assigned as a strike group.”

As an added layer of complexity, Truman’s and Normandy’s part of the exercise was conducted with both ships operating solely using the radar systems aboard Normandy for defensive coordination. This flex of systems capabilities is so infrequent experts from multiple technical organizations, including the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, were on hand to observe the results.

The techniques and weapons systems tested during this evolution represent CSG-8’s capability to protect itself at sea against air and missile threats, added Trinque.

“Our surface ships face many threats, including cruise missile threats, as recently demonstrated in the Red Sea,” said Trinque. “Our ability to defend ourselves and high-value units from cruise missile attacks depends on our knowledge of and ability to operate our weapon systems proficiently, promptly, and without error.”

CSG-8 ships conducted a number of drills and rehearsals prior to this event. Each time, learning points were debriefed and lessons were incorporated to ensure the Combat Operations team was building expertise, added Tornga.

“Each ship in a strike group brings awesome capability as a standalone combat force,” said Tornga. “But integrated as a battle force, the capability is unmatched around the globe.”

Truman has successfully completed its Tailored Shipboard Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP) and is underway preparing for future operations.

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