George Washington CSG Conducts Valiant Shield Torpedo Exercise
Ships assigned to the George Washington Carrier Strike Group conducted a complex, live-fire anti-submarine torpedo training evolution as part of exercise Valiant Shield, Sept. 17-18.
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Stethem (DDG 63), and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54), and USS Shiloh (CG 67) along with embarked helicopter detachments, fired ordnance at simulated targets during the exercise.
“We did two discrete events — one with two ships, Shiloh and Fitzgerald, and one with three, Mustin, Antietam and Stethem,” said Lt. Geoffrey Biegel, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 submarine operations officer. “This one was unique in the fact that we had a lot of exercise training weapons to use. We were able to execute vertical launch anti-submarine rockets, over the side torpedoes and torpedoes from helicopters.
“It was exciting that we were able to execute all of that training in such a short period of time. Another thing that was great about this training is that we were able to use the MK 30 training target. It’s a better target, it’s larger and has a longer run time, so one MK 30 target can be used for a whole three-ship, four-weapon event.”
Anti-submarine warfare is a major focus area of naval operations. By honing those skills, the strike group further supports Valiant Shield’s goal of having a highly capable and well-trained joint combat force in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“The value of these exercises is testing the firing chain, evaluating tactics, techniques and procedures,” said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, Commander, Task Force 70. “It also allows outside evaluators to assess the efficiency and accuracy with which Carrier Strike Group 5 and Carrier Strike Group 1 employ their weapons systems.”
Conducting this type of realistic, relevant training increases the strike group’s ability to plan, communicate and conduct complex maritime operations.
“I was very excited to be part of the team that executed the torpedo launch from our ship,” said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Elatia Zaffke, assigned to Antietam. “We train all year to successfully complete exercises like this, and it was a nice feeling to be able to put all that training into action.”
The targeting torpedoes used during the exercise were specifically designed for this type of training. They mimic the size and weight of its active counterpart but are inert, allowing them to be recovered and used again.
Valiant Shield comprises much more than just anti-submarine warfare events. It is a biennial, U.S.-only, field training exercise with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces. It enables real world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas. This is the fifth exercise in the Valiant Shield series that began in 2006.
“Valiant Shield 2014 is a large joint military exercise, one of the largest anywhere in the world this year. It combines a series of vignettes to test our operational and tactical capabilities against high-end adversaries along with operations that allow us to asses and improve out interoperability between joint forces” said Montgomery. “It also serves as [Task Force 70’s] major two-year certification where we not only demonstrate our capabilities as a strike group, but our ability as a task force to manage multiple carrier strike groups during complex operations. This is an extremely complex exercise for the George Washington and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups.”
Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only exercise integrating an estimated 18,000 Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps personnel, more than 200 aircraft and 19 surface ships, offering real-world joint operational experience to develop capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners.
Press Release, September 22, 2014; Image: US Navy