Kearsarge ARG ships get underway for first East Coast SWATT

Chief Operations Specialist Chris Daniels drives a Landing Craft Unit toward the well deck of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Photo: US Navy

US Navy ships from the amphibious ready group assembled around USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) got underway from Morehead City, North Carolina, June 21, to start the navy’s first East Coast surface warfare advanced tactical training (SWATT) exercise.

In addition to Kearsarge, ships taking part in the first East Coast SWATT include USS Arlington (LPD 24) and USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

SWATTs are the premiere advanced tactical training exercise developed and led by Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC). The training focuses on advanced tactics at sea to improve warfighting proficiency, lethality, and ship interoperability before entering the integrated phase of training, prior to deployment.

ARG SWATT exercises provide in port and at sea training for surface ships and focus on watch team, unit, air defense commander, and surface combat commander training.

The event typically takes place prior to full amphibious squadron and Marine expeditionary unit integration training, known as PMINT.

The exercise provides focused training in a number of specific warfare areas including anti-submarine warfare/surface warfare, integrated air and missile defense, amphibious warfare, mine warfare, and information warfare.

“It’s an exciting time to work with the SMWDC team to conduct the first East Coast ARG SWATT,” said Rear Adm. Brad Skillman, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2. “Anytime an ARG has the opportunity to receive operational training that will prepare them in greater warfighting proficiency and interoperability, that is a very positive thing for our Navy and Marine Corps team.”

Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) was established in 2015 to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the surface force as the surface warfare community’s warfighting development center. Since that time, five SWATT exercises have been completed in both ARG and cruiser-destroyer units. The first two ARG SWATTs were completed off the coast of Southern California with USS America (LHA 6) and USS Essex (LHD 2) ARGs.

Ultimately, SWATT events provide high-fidelity system, tactics, and human performance data needed by the surface warfare enterprise to improve warfighting readiness. After SWATT concludes, data recorded during the events is further extracted through a partnership between SMWDC and Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) – Corona. There the data is reviewed in a Data Analysis Working Group which analyzes system, operator, and tactics performance.

“Before any of our ships deploy there is unit training and certifications that take place, said Capt. Daniel Blackburn, commander of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6. “Participating in SWATT will allow the Kearsarge ARG team the multi-warfare training environment needed to become more efficient in advanced tactics for future missions.”


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