Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) is participating in an integrated anti-submarine course (IAC) to certify Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2) during an ongoing composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, Jan. 26.
IAC is a series of exercises designed to effectively integrate all the surface and air assets involved in protecting aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in a strike group setting. The successful completion of the exercises will certify DESRON 2 for the squadron’s upcoming deployment.
“For our strike group, the high-value unit is the [Enterprise],” said Sonar Technician Chief George H. Hudson, USS James E. Williams leading sonar technician. “Whenever the carrier is engaged in operations, we position other units around the ship to protect it from attack.”
“The Enterprise is a mobile air force and the cornerstone of our Navy,” said Ensign Bryan D. Crosby, USS James E. Williams anti-submarine officer. “If we are incapable of protecting the Enterprise, which has hundreds of assets on board and thousands of people, then our forward presence is hindered.”
Anti-submarine warfare encompasses a wide-range of tactical responses to potential undersea threats necessary in neutralizing hostile submarines, mines, and other dangers to protect high-value units and freedom of the seas.
“Submarines can block choke points and make commercial shipping near impossible,” said Crosby. “They can also lay mines and render once navigable waters hostile.”
Submarine stalking; engagements; and emergency maneuvers and evasions, are a few of the scenarios within IAC. These exercises provide an opportunity for participating ships to flex their warfare capabilities through an integrated perspective.
“Integration is always a challenge,” said Crosby. “We all work for the strike group commander. He delegates his powers to a lot of other people. And it takes a lot of other intelligent people to get the job done.”
Destroyers can be sent to operate autonomously by directive of the strike group commander. They can be designated a search and attack unit responsible for breaking away from the strike group for early detection of submarines.
Using combat acoustics, which is simply sound in water, destroyers are capable of detecting and analyzing surface and undersea contacts using sound, navigation and ranging (SONAR). These contacts can vary from marine animals to submarines.
“We man watches 24 hours a day,” said Hudson. “We keep a surface picture of contacts that we actively track on our screens.”
Hudson and Crosby also act as evaluators who are responsible for tactically employing SONAR to find threats. When a threat is found they place the ship or ships in their control into the most opportune environment to prosecute the threat.
“At any given time one ship can be in tactical control of several different ships and aircraft,” said Crosby. “You’re trying to utilize your assets to the utmost of their ability and extent.”
While the goal of the exercise is to grant DESRON 2 operational certification, the exercise affords all vessels of the strike group to not only refine established skills, but to learn from any mistakes so they can operate at peak performance when deployed.
“We have 11 carriers,” said Crosby. “We always want to keep 11 carriers so that we can be anywhere in the world in a moment’s notice and deter any foreign aggression against friendly forces.”
Naval Today Staff , January 31, 2012; Image: navy