The Navy performed its first superior tactical coaching occasion with the Littoral Fight Ship, forward of USS Montgomery’s (LCS-Eight) deployment to the Pacific later this 12 months.
Montgomery’s coaching occasion was a smaller model of the Floor Warfare Superior Tactical Coaching (SWATT) occasions that cruisers and destroyers (CRU/DES) and amphibious ships undergo forward of their deployments. Montgomery performed its five-day at-sea coaching with only one different LCS and a replenishment oiler, Lt. Cmdr. Nick VanWagoner, the lead planner for the LCS SWATT and a floor warfare/anti-submarine warfare (SuW/ASW) warfare techniques teacher (WTI), informed USNI Information.
The subsequent two LCS crews to deploy, nonetheless, might be included in a bigger cru/des SWATT occasion this summer season, because the Naval Floor and Mine Warfighting Growth Middle (SMWDC) learns extra concerning the capabilities and limitations of the LCS and the way to make sure the crews are educated for each solo and bigger formation operations.
“What the demand sign was for USS Montgomery was actually no completely different than what it’s for our cru/des ships that deploy in strike teams or our amphibious ships that deploy in amphibious prepared teams. The intent was to organize that ship for when she deploys, irrespective of how the fleet commander chooses to make use of her, to successfully combine and function with different ships, platforms and warfare commanders,” VanWagoner informed USNI Information.
When Montgomery deploys within the coming months, it will likely be completely different than different floor ships within the fleet: it’s going to have a minimally manned crew of about 70 or so sailors, in comparison with about 350 on destroyers; it’s going to have only a floor warfare mission package deal onboard in comparison with the multi-mission cruisers and destroyers; and its Blue Crew, which went by the current SWATT occasion, will rotate with a Gold Crew each 4 to 6 months to maintain the ship hull ahead for about 16 months at a time.
VanWagoner mentioned the primary LCS SWATT sought to handle a few of these points, together with what a small crew measurement meant for the endurance of the ship throughout high-tempo operations and the flexibility to execute one occasion whereas planning forward for the following mission.
“LCS has completely different endurance capabilities than a ship that’s manned with 350 sailors. And so the crew of that ship has to intentionally plan round these capabilities to make sure that they’ll meet mission. That was one in every of our focus areas really through the superior tactical coaching we offered – when the ship’s crew was confronted with conducting a variety of pretty complicated tactical situations back-to-back, making certain they have been executing their PBED (plan, transient, execute, debrief) course of underway and being able to execute the next occasion. It was one thing that we needed to be deliberate about, but it surely didn’t hamper our operations at sea,” he mentioned.
“[The LCS’s] man, practice and equip course of is slightly bit completely different than what we use for cru/des or amphibious ships right this moment, and there was some studying from our perspective on the planning course of to make sure that as we scheduled occasions or as we have been designing workout routines that we accounted for a few of these variations,” he added.
“However on the finish of the day they ended up not being very vital. We realized lots about what the ship’s fight system’s capabilities are and are excited to see her deploy in help of tasking.”
Whereas cruisers and destroyers are anticipated to conduct offensive and defensive missions on the floor, within the air and beneath the ocean, the LCS will solely carry one mission package deal at a time, with Montgomery deploying with only a floor warfare mission package deal. Nonetheless, VanWagoner mentioned SMWDC wished to check the ship’s skills to defend itself in different domains, significantly in anti-air warfare.
The LCS’s capabilities are restricted in comparison with a destroyer, he mentioned, and “that’s going to paint its means to conduct sustained regional air protection. However we designed workout routines to make sure that, ought to they should, they might combine right into a fleet air protection assemble and execute level protection procedures to guard themselves whereas deployed.”
Throughout Montgomery’s 5 days at sea, the LCS labored with Floor Division 11 employees embarked aboard USS Independence (LCS-2). Beneath the present LCS fleet group, Independence primarily serves as a check ship, and the division employees oversees one coaching ship and three deployable ships centered on floor warfare.
The Floor Division 11 employees took tactical management of Montgomery throughout one a part of the train and likewise crammed the position of warfare commander for a part of the train, to simulate how Montgomery is likely to be requested to fall beneath one other group as soon as in theater. Montgomery had Helicopter Sea Fight Squadron (HSC) 23 embarked with its MH-60S helicopters, in addition to the MQ-Eight Fireplace Scout.
Moreover, the crew bought to conduct life-fire occasions with the crew-served weapon and the mission package deal’s 30mm gun. As a capstone occasion, the crew used the SeaRAM missile protection system and defeated the risk within the first salvo, VanWagoner mentioned.
“The entire live-fire occasions have been very profitable, expended a bunch of ammunition, employed their weapon programs in opposition to threats that we offered to them through the workout routines.”
Montgomery additionally performed a refueling at sea with USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) in the direction of the top of the SWATT, VanWagoner mentioned.
“Different ships, platforms, the [composite warfare commander] assemble – all of that is essential to SMWDC’s methodology as we obtain ships out of the fundamental part and put together them for fleet integration,” he mentioned.
This summer season, two LCS crews – the primary deploying crew of USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) and the Gold Crew of Montgomery embarked aboard coaching ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) – will conduct a SWATT with a service strike group’s floor ships “and see how these (LCSs) do working in slightly bit extra complicated CWC assemble and operations at sea,” VanWagoner mentioned.
Forward of that bigger occasion, he famous, “a few of our focus goes to be on getting ready the warfare commanders and making certain that they perceive capabilities and limitations of those platforms that they must make use of.”
Requested what the SWATT coaching demand sign hinted at for what to anticipate from the primary LCS deployment overseas because the LCS fleet was reorganized, VanWagoner mentioned, “I can’t anticipate fleet commander tasking for that platform when she’s in theater. We supposed and have been profitable in offering coaching that allowed her to be succesful and versatile to fulfill many taskings. However what we noticed launched into USS Montgomery was a succesful platform and a really succesful crew that’s going to achieve success in executing a large variety of missions.”