Three ships led by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 departed Faslane, Scotland, March 11, having completed Neptune Warrior, a coalition course off the coast of Scotland with ships from the United Kingdom and Germany and aircraft from France.
Capt. Carl W. Cramb, commander, DESRON 24, led the three ships, USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Barry (DDG 52), and USS Elrod (FFG 55), during their transit to Scotland and then commanded one of the international Task Groups during Neptune Warrior.
Joint Maritime Operational Training Staff (JMOTS) Northwood in the United Kingdom led the Neptune Warrior course. The scenario was designed to approximate current real world situations, which included realistic constraints on how forces would be required to operate in a volatile situation short of open hostilities, and is primarily why Neptune Warrior is considered a course rather than an exercise.
“During the first days of the course, our ships were hit by sub-freezing gale force winds, high seas and snowy conditions which made many events even more challenging,” said Cramb. “JMOTS was able to shift some of our training and had us focus on anti-submarine warfare, which we were able to execute despite the difficult conditions.”
One of the main focuses of the course was Maritime Security Operations, which the ships will likely participate in during deployment if assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).
“One of the main objectives of our Task Group was the surveillance and security of a wide area of water to prevent terrorist smuggling and attacks on shipping,” said Cramb. “This was excellent training for the types of missions these ships will realistically face during any deployment, and ensures these ships will be ready to capably meet their assignments.”
The course also emphasized all of the usual ways that coalition navies usually train together. Coalition forces trained to defend against small boat and air attacks, as well as the traditional war at sea, where the Task Groups took on each other in a surface battle. British Tornados and Jaguars, as well as French Super Entendards, formed the bulk of the attacking air units during the course.
“It was an extremely complex and challenging scenario that JMOTS put together for us. They really tested the coalition’s ability to work as a team against a wide variety of threats,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rick Hughes, DESRON 24 operations officer. “Neptune Warrior produced some great training situations in a difficult environment, and our ships really excelled across the board.”
During the debrief in Faslane March 11, Barry was praised for its ability to shield its Task Group from a British submarine threat. Barry’s tactical acumen during the operation allowed it to track and keep a submarine at bay and away from the other Task Unit ships for more than nine hours while they were conducting an attack on a simulated terrorist training camp.
“JMOTS specifically singled out the Barry’s efforts as one of the highlights of the entire course,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robb Chadwick, chief staff officer for DESRON 24. “Barry put together an excellent plan and was able to execute it in an outstanding fashion in coordination with a British helicopter.”
The Neptune Warrior course is designed to improve interoperability between allied navies, as well as to prepare the participants for a role in a Coalition Joint Task Force during upcoming deployments. Neptune Warrior is the United Kingdom’s advanced certification course and is on par with an American Joint Task Force Exercise, which normally certifies U.S. ships.
Following the debrief, the ships headed to various port visits in Europe before their planned return to Norfolk near the end of March. All three ships are currently scheduled to deploy during the spring of 2006.
By Lt. Bill Urban, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic