USS Carl Vinson Welcomes RADF Officers

USS Carl Vinson Welcomes RADF Officers

USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) welcomed six Royal Australian Defense Force (RADF) officers aboard, April 29 – May 2, giving them an opportunity to observe a U.S. aircraft carrier in action as the ship continues its deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) officers Lt. Cmdr. Michael Jagger, Lt. Daniel Boettger, Lt. Stephen Blume, Lt. Liam Walters; and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lts. John Micuvand Chad Myles, have since participated in various simulated battle scenario exercises alongside Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 Sailors.

Blume and Walters are both fighter controllers in the RAN, equivalent to a U.S. Navy air intercept controller (AIC). They participated in flight operations by assisting Vinson’s AICs in the ship’s Combat Direction Center, controlling live aircraft and communicating tactical maneuvers for air defense.

“When they go back to their ships, they are going to take some of the duties some of our cruisers [conduct] now for future joint exercises – [which is to] assist our aircraft carrier in communicating with our fighters where unidentified aircraft [are located],” explained Strike Group Air Intercept Control Supervisor Chief Operations Specialist Greg Glaeser, assigned to CVW-17. “Our fighters then find, identify and evaluate that unknown air contact to later determine what actions to take.”

Glaeser said the Australians’ transition to working Vinson’s flight operations was seamless.

“They are very knowledgeable. They definitely know their job,” Glaeser said. “Some pilots who participated in the flying events mentioned they performed an outstanding job.”

Blume said this experience has increased his professional knowledge on a broader scale.

“This is the greatest thing that could have happened to me this year so far,” Blume said. “It was something new for me.”

Walter explained since the RAN does not currently operate aircraft carriers, the opportunity to participate in flight operations while out to sea is a rare one.

“We gain experience by working with the U.S. Navy, swapping techniques and just learning from each other,” Walters said. “What better way to build relationships within our navies than to train together? We fight wars together, why not train together?”

Micu and Myles are air combat officers in the RAAF who conduct airborne early warning missions. They run the mission equipment and use radars to communicate with pilots.

Myles explained although they do not perform their job while out to sea, the knowledge they acquired from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 will help them assist the RAN from their position on the shore.

“We do a lot of work with our navy and the U.S. Navy, as well. I work in an airborne commanding control platform,” Myles said. “We are used to working with agencies from other countries.”

Meanwhile, Jagger and Boettger, both meteorology operations officers, primarily worked in the Meteorology Room training Vinson Sailors to understand the region’s weather dynamics, specifically dynamics surrounding Vinson’s southern transit toward Australia. Jagger noted a numerical model is necessary in order to make weather predictions in the region due to a lack of real-time observation systems.

“There are slight differences between all these programs, and you can take different approaches to solving the weather. Our model is just for our (Australian) region. We successfully tweaked it over the years to give the best performance in terms of weather prediction,” he said. “We are providing high-resolution models of what’s happening in terms of wind, swell data, long-range forecasting, and then the U.S. Navy can compare it to their models back home and have the option to scale it.”

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Svatek, assigned to Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1 as a staff meteorology and oceanography (METOC) officer, worked closely with Jagger and Boettger. He explained their assistance and training in providing weather forecasting and oceanographic data not only helped out Sailors onboard, it also built closer partnerships within both the naval services.

“If there were real-world operations where partnership was required, the RADF are already tuned into our battle rhythm,” Svatek said. “They understand what is expected, such as chain-of-command reporting, [and] briefing schedules. Therefore, they can coordinate their information-sharing with us and us with them. This understanding highlights the value of timely and accurate information sharing to the decision-making process and, ultimately, to mission accomplishment.”

We never pass up an opportunity to work with the United States Navy,” Jagger added. “This experience allowed us to understand how you guys work, operations-wise, and vice versa.”

Naval Today Staff, May 07, 2012; Image: navy