USS John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) ships commenced an undersea warfare exercise (USWEX) in the Hawaiian operating area on Monday as part of the strike group's final test and evaluation before arriving in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) and western Pacific Ocean.
Exercises like this are conducted several times throughout the year in the waters near Hawaii for maritime commanders to asses the undersea warfare capabilities of deploying strike groups.
"We're taking part in an undersea warfare exercise as directed by the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet," said Master Chief Sonar Technician (Surface) Lucas Stiles, an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) analyst assigned to the Commander Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21. "This is an assessed ASW scenario involving a multitude of oppositional submarines that is designed to test our ability to move the carrier strike group into a specific operating area and establish ASW dominance."
Conducting undersea warfare exercises in the Hawaiian operating area proves to be a beneficial training endeavor due to the readily available training ranges and the presence of ASW units and capabilities in the region, said Stiles.
"Training exercises like this one are invaluable to developing our core competencies within the strike group," noted Stiles. "Operating in the Hawaiian area of operations ensures numerous ASW resources and training ranges are available for us to utilize. It really provides the strike group with a realistic training scenario."
Providing a critical piece to JCS' undersea warfare capabilities are the "Raptors" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71.
"The air assets and capabilities provided by HSM-71 are our only airborne organic ASW measure in the strike group," said Lt. Sarah Sherrod, the Air Operations Officer for DESRON 21. "If we're operating in blue water with no external support, they are all ASW capabilities we have in the air.
Aerographer's Mate 2nd Class Tonia Wilson, a watch stander in the DESRON 21 ASW cell aboard Stennis, uses her knowledge of science and oceanography to predict the location of oppositional forces under the water.
"We run ASW range predictions for oceanography from here and all of us assist with the detection and counter detection of submarines," she said.
According to Wilson, the training provided before deployment contributed to her overall watchstanding effectiveness during this scenario.
"We really learned a lot during the exercises leading up to deployment and this training scenario," noted Wilson. "We built a very good rapport and working relationship with all the units across the strike group."
JCSSG comprises the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), CVW-9 and the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21; guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Pinckney (DDG 91); and guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).
For more news from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.