Exercise Four Norfolk-based ships departed Naval Station Norfolk Aug.
20 to participate in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s annual theater Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise, Smart Search ’04.The exercise begins Aug. 29 off the east coast
of the United States
. This is the fourth year of the annual exercise and is headed by Commander, Task Force 84. The goal of the exercise is to effectively employ and improve the combat capability of Atlantic Fleet submarines and afloat ASW forces while simultaneously increasing the efficiency of operations ashore.The exercise will test, assess and improve the proficiency of Navy theater ASW forces in a complex, realistic training scenario involving Navy ships, submarines and aircraft. ASW remains an important part of U.S. national strategy, which is founded on our advantages of dominant, forward-deployed forces that allow us to fight and win thousands of miles from our shores. The Navy’s ASW forces must be highly trained and capable in theater ASW operations, in order to provide assured access to strategic areas worldwide and to protect the freedom to maneuver that our nation’s forces need in the maritime domain.“If you look worldwide, you will see there are some nations that have robust submarine capabilities,” said Capt. Tom Abernathy, commander, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 22, whose squadron of ships will be participating in the exercise. “To not be prepared for that is not prudent.”The Norfolk-based ships from CDS 22 participating include USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Hawes (FFG 53), USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). U.S. Atlantic Fleet submarines, Jacksonville, Fla.-based P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft and allied forces will also participate in the exercise.“There is a certain amount of training that you can do as a single ship, which all of us have gone through,” said Cmdr. Mark Sedlacek, commanding officer of Donald Cook. “This is a great opportunity to participate as a team against an adversary who has some advantages in stealth against surface ships.”