USS Mason concludes bilateral ASW

Sailors aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG), concluded bilateral anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercises with the Royal Australian navy and the United Kingdom’s Royal navy, Aug. 29.

Mason, recently the recipient of the U.S. Navy’s prestigious ASW Bloodhound Award, led the Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness and Evaluation Measurement (SHAREM) exercise with U.K. Royal navy’s Fort-class fleet replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria and Type 23 frigate HMS Portland (F 79), Australian Royal navy’s Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth (FFH 157), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) and Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Dallas (SSN 700).

“We love training,” said Mason Command Master Chief Ronn Shasky, from Mansfield, Ohio. “We love showing how much we’ve learned, how much we’ve absorbed, and continuing Mason’s great legacy as submarine fighters. It’s no secret that we’ve been one of the better, if not the best ship in the Atlantic Fleet for a long time. The ASW Bloodhound award is a tribute to our ASW team which includes our watch team on the bridge, in combat, and on the flight deck.”

The multi-day exercise featured procedures which tested the ships’ capacity to detect, locate, and engage submarines using fathometers, multi-functional towed arrays (MFTAs), sonobuoys, and active and passive sonar.

“It’s important to work with foreign allies in ASW,”
said Lt. j.g. Nick Gutierrez, Mason’s ASW officer, from Chicago. “The more opportunity we have to work with foreign nations to help build our cohesiveness and mission readiness is absolutely crucial for the future.”

Gutierrez explained the scenarios measured the groups’ “abilities to work individually and as one cohesive ASW unit.”

“We started out as four ships that have never worked together,”
said Lt. Cmdr. Thom Hobbs, executive officer of Portland.We came together using a whole series of common tactics and procedures we learned from our home navies and we put them into practice in a difficult area of the world for [ASW]. We improved on them and accomplished what we set out to do.”

Hobbs continued to emphasize SHAREM allowed the ships to evaluate “how effectively surface ships and aircraft can work together to detect and track submarines,” culminating in the launching of a training torpedo to prosecute a simulated target.

“It was great to work with such a proficient team,” said Lt. Cmdr. Katie Lunser, air boss of the “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74, from Holland, New York. “We always appreciate the time and coordination it takes for this type of training.”

Gutierrez said Mason’s anti-submarine tactical air controllers have a “unique connection and relationship” with the pilots of HSM 74 and are able to work “near flawlessly together.”
SHAREM challenged the watchstanders’ abilities in successfully tracking, localizing, and targeting an undersea target.

“This gave us the chance to knock off our ASW rust,” said Cmdr. Christopher J. Gilbertson, Mason’s commanding officer, from Minneapolis. “It allowed us to do what we’re best at — our job. The key now is making lessons learned, not just lessons documented. Implementing is our goal now. Overall, it was great to work with professionals and we always appreciate the exercise.”

Mason continues to be part of the United States’ commitment to Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a multi-national naval partnership, which was created between 31 navies, including the United Kingdom’s Royal navy and the Royal Australian navy.

CMF’s mission is to promote security, stability, and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters while working with regional partners in countering terrorism, preventing piracy and promoting a safe maritime environment.

“This exercise was an opportunity to show the fleet and the world why we’re number one when it comes to [ASW],” said Shasky. “Our ASW team is top-notch. All of our Sailors’ professionalism, training, motivation, drive, hunger, and what they do are second to none.”

Mason has worked with seven of the 31 member nations in CMF since beginning their scheduled deployment — Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom.