USS Gettysburg Increases Versatility with NEO Exercise

USS Gettysburg Increases Versatility with NEO Exercise

Guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) took part in a simulated non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) off the coast of Scotland, Oct. 8.

The exercise included evacuating 11 Royal Navy midshipmen posing as citizens in simulated danger from Mallaig, Scotland to Gettysburg on two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIB).

The exercise was planned by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) as part of Exercise Joint Warrior, a coalition exercise designed and led by JTEPS in the United Kingdom that lasts two weeks and takes place twice a year.

“This is not a normal mission for a cruiser or destroyer platform to go do,” said Capt. Bob Hein, commanding officer of Gettysburg. “But what made it interesting is that sometimes, you’re the only asset that is available.”

Normally a NEO operation is assigned to larger vessels such as aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships so those ships complete NEO training instead of cruisers. Having a cruiser practice a NEO is an opportunity to expand the capabilities of the platform.

“It’s just another tool in their toolbox,” said Hein. “The strength of the Sailors onboard this ship is that they can figure out how to do it. So even for a non-standard mission for a cruiser, like a NEO, they figured it out and they did a great job. It proves the versatility of the modern day Sailor.

The NEO training operation went smoothly, the entire exercise taking just over an hour to complete.

“It was kind of cool to plan,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Lautar, the operations officer for Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26. “Being a DESRON, normally it would be a strike group that planned it. For us as a small staff to create a plan and give it out and then see it executed, I thought it was kind of cool and it went well.”

During the exercise, Gettysburg hosted the 11 midshipmen overnight in the wardroom with food, games and karaoke. The following day the group was sent ashore via two RHIBs to Campbeltown, Scotland.

Naval Today Staff, October 12, 2012; Image: US Navy