CSTFL Leader Visits USS Winston S. Churchill

CSTFL Leader Visits USS Winston S. Churchill

The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) received a visit from Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL), while at sea, on its progress though a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), May 1.

Rear Adm. Dennis E. FitzPatrick, CSFTL, landed on the destroyer via helicopter and immediately met with Cmdr. Michael E. Hutchens, commanding officer of Churchill, and executive officer Lt. Cmdr. Richard S. McGowen.

“I thought the visit went well,” said Hutchens. “When the admiral comes aboard, it gives me the opportunity to address him directly and allows him to communicate directly to me regarding COMPTUEX and the status of the ship. Nothing’s lost in translation.”

CSFTL is assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces Command and is charged with mentoring, training and assessing major combat operations readiness for Atlantic Fleet Carrier Strike Groups, Amphibious Ready Groups, and independently deploying surface ships. SFTL’s training teams plan, execute, and oversee the warfare scenarios which make up every COMPTUEX on the Atlantic seaboard.

FitzPatrick then addressed the Churchill’s wardroom, followed by its Chief’s mess, in an open-ended exchange with the collected leadership of the destroyer on both the current COMPTUEX and its relation to the Navy’s operational philosophy.

“This COMPTUEX is for you,” said FitzPatrick to assembled listeners. “We mustered all these resources to get you ready to go on deployment.”

The admiral discussed the ongoing training scenario set-up for COMPTUEX, which involves more than 20 ships, and said there is a need to pay attention to unconventional threats, including anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare, and fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) warfare.

“We’re here to set the conditions to make good decisions and then execute those decisions,” said FitzPatrick.

Part of the preparation, according to FitzPatrick, is for ships’ crews to know how to “juggle” manning needs with increased mission flexibility.

“The ability to do multiple missions at once is very important,” said FitzPatrick.

Another part is ensuring open communication between the crew members of all ranks, said the admiral.

“The ability of a subordinate to speak honestly and openly is vital,” said FitzPatrick. “From E-1s to Chiefs to ensigns, we have to create an atmosphere where it’s expected to step up and correct problems.”

Chief Gunner’s Mate Terrance G. Wright, a meeting attendee and a leading chief petty officer in Churchill’s Weapons Department, said he felt the spirit of COMPTUEX is being achieved.

“Rear Adm. FitzPatrick’s excited to see what the Churchill can do and looks forward to hearing about our performance,” said Wright. “It’s good to know his assets are available.”

Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group consists of Eisenhower, the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), the guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), Carrier Air Wing 7 and Destroyer Squadron 28.

Naval Today Staff , May 04, 2012; Image: navy