Amazing high resolution photo of the USS San Jacinto (CG 56) in action.
The Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and USS Shoup (DDG 86) are all on their way home. Escorts for USS Nimitz (CVN-68) comprising Carrier Strike Group 11 now include the cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56) and the destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). CSG-11 is currently assigned to the Fifth Fleet NAVCENT area of responsibility.
As Syria crisis fades, U.S. ships remain within striking distance
The simmering Syrian crisis is driving fleet operations higher as a strike force of two flattops and 11 ships stand by in case the disarming of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons breaks down.
The Navy has amassed and maintained a considerable flotilla in the five weeks since the crisis first broke. The threat of imminent strikes brought Syria and its international partner, Russia, to the negotiating table and led to the present agreement, where United Nations weapons experts oversee the destruction of chemical weapons caches.
With the strikes no longer imminent, the Navy has sent home ships that had been close to the end of their deployment, while still leaving a sizable force nearby. Indeed, the crisis has ticked the fleet’s operations pace temporarily higher, with two carriers patrolling in or near 5th Fleet — a pace that has strained the fleet in recent years.
The aircraft carrier Nimitz is patrolling the Red Sea in its seventh month of deployment, while four of its escorts are headed home: the cruiser Princeton and destroyers William P. Lawrence, Stockdale and Shoup. Nimitz is now escorted by the cruiser San Jacinto and destroyer Mason, said a defense official, adding that the aircraft carrier’s deployment was extended “for the foreseeable future.”
Five ships — the destroyers Barry, Gravely, Ramage and Stout, and the amphibious transport dock San Antonio — remain in the Mediterranean.
The aircraft carrier Truman is patrolling the North Arabian Sea along with the cruiser Gettysburg and destroyer Bulkeley.
Big-deck amphibs are also in the region and ready. The amphibious assault ship Kearsarge — which has elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as does the San Antonio — is in the Red Sea, and Boxer is expected to enter 5th Fleet this weekend.
A reminder that international trade depends on safe, protected sea lanes and diplomatic stability.
Chinese navy ships arrive at Pearl Harbor for rare visit
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Three Chinese ships carrying hundreds of sailors arrived in Hawaii on Friday to join a search-and-rescue exercise with the U.S. Navy during a rare visit intended to foster familiarity.
The guided missile destroyer Qingdao, a frigate and a supply ship were welcomed with performances by lion dancers and a children’s hula group. The ships carrying 680 officers and sailors will participate in the exercise on Monday with the USS Lake Erie in waters off Waikiki and Diamond Head.
The exercise is an important way for the two navies to share information about operations so they don’t misinterpret movements and potentially start a conflict, said Brad Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“There are lots of places where our vessels could end up in proximity, and we want to make very sure that when that happens we have the best possible understanding of what the other side is doing and why,” he said.
The visit comes as Beijing continues to be wary about Washington’s strategic “rebalance” toward Asia, in which the Navy is basing a majority of its ships in the Pacific and the U.S. is boosting ties with longtime allies such as Australia and Japan.
China sees the moves as an effort to counter its expanding military and contain its growing economic and political influence.
Chinese ships last visited the U.S. in 2006, when the Qingdao and the Hongzehu stopped in Pearl Harbor and San Diego for communications drills and search and rescue exercises off those coasts. The two nations last held a joint drill in 2012 during an anti-piracy exercise off Somalia.
China’s military has said the drills build on a June commitment by President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to strengthen ties.
The Navy said the visit is part of its ongoing effort to develop relationships with foreign navies to build trust, encourage cooperation, enhance transparency and avoid miscalculation.
Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said the two navies are showing their commitment to a stable world by working together and sharing aloha for the next several days.
“We are linked with you together in history, and we will be linked together in the future,” Williams said about China.
Rear Adm. Wei Gang, chief of staff, North Sea Fleet and head of the delegation, said there’s been steady progress in U.S.-China relations in recent years.
“This time, I, together with all the officers and the men of the task group, entrusted by our Chinese government and the people, sailed all the way across the broad Pacific and brought here to our American friends the friendly feelings of the Chinese people and the People’s Liberation Army,” Wei said through an interpreter.
During the drills, sailors will practice turning ships at sea, conduct searches and rescues, and send small boats back and forth between ships, Williams said. U.S. and Chinese helicopters will also work together.
Socializing is a major part of the visit. During the weekend, sailors will play basketball and soccer, attend two receptions, and visit the USS Arizona Memorial and the now-decommissioned World War II-era battleship Missouri.
Tricky bastards, those Kamarians. You’ve got to watch them.
Exercise TALISMAN SABER fleet prepares for battle
Following aggression by the fictional island nation ‘Kamaria’, Australia and the United States have been called upon to form a combined force to restore peace and security to the region.
Now, a large and highly capable Australian and US Navy fleet is amassing in the Coral Sea to prepare for action against the mythical ‘Kamarians’.
This fictional scenario provides the backdrop for Exercise TALISMAN SABER 2013, a bilateral Australian/US exercise aimed at improving combat readiness and the ability of US and Australian forces to operate together.
As the fictional political scenario unfolds, warships from the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy’s 7th fleet are gathering together for an initial period of force integration training, designed to get the two navies used to working together before engaging in higher level ‘free-play’ combat exercises.
Training so far has included anti-submarine and anti-air warfare exercises, underway replenishments and coordinated manoeuvres involving multiple ships steaming in formation.
Among the fleet is the Upgraded Anzac Class frigate HMAS Perth, sporting its recently-installed anti-ship missile defences.
Attacks by Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets have tested the ship’s upgraded sensors and combat system while members of Perth’s 5-inch gun crew have proven their skills in live firing exercises against towed airborne targets.
Perth’s bridge and operations room teams have been put through their paces working in close company with US Navy Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Preble and USS Chung Hoon and Ticonderoga Class cruiser USS Antietam and Australian guided missile frigate HMAS Sydney.
Other members of the ship’s company have participated in several fire fighting and damage control exercises.
HMAS Perth Commanding Officer, Captain Lee Goddard said this initial phase of the exercise training was invaluable, as it set the scene for the next stage of the combined training.
“This initial force integration training aims to bring together a large number of ships that will be working together during the exercise so they can become an effective combined fighting force.
“It gives us the opportunity to establish command and control relationships, refine operating procedures and learn how we can best use the capabilities each ship brings to the task force.
“Once this solid foundation is established, we can safely move into higher level training in a free-play exercise environment where we respond to a rapidly unfolding exercise scenario,” Captain Goddard said.
Perth is participating in exercise TALISMAN SABER alongside other Royal Australian Navy vessels HMA Ships Choules, Sydney, Waller and Tarakan and helicopters from 816 and 808 Squadrons. Also involved in TALISMAN SABER is Spanish combat support ship ESPS Cantabria and ships from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, including the USS George Washington aircraft carrier strike group and an expeditionary strike group led by Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.
Exercise TALISMAN SABER will run from 15 July – 5 August, with around 28,000 Australian and US personnel taking part in the 21-day exercise being held in the Coral Sea and in military training areas in central and northern Queensland.
Supporting activities are also underway in the waters of the Timor and Arafura Seas, and throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/TS13-023.
TS 13 continues with an air defence exercise.
HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) is an Adelaide class frigate (based on the US Navy Oliver Hazard Perry class) and is nearing the end of her operational life. She will be replaced with a new HMAS Sydney (the fifth so-named ship) a Hobart class destroyer in 2017, providing the RAN with an enhanced air-warfare capability.
U.S., Australian Forces Collaborate on Air Defense
CORAL SEA (NNS) — The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Strike Group, Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) collaborate in an air defense exercise (ADEX) in support of exercise Talisman Saber 2013 (TS 13).
ADEXs provide combined training and validation for maritime and air operations and flex combined staffs in crisis action planning for contingency operations and humanitarian missions.
“We’re integrating the Australian forces into our air defense system to build a combined force for our nation and our allies,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rene “Sleepy” Cornejo, air warfare commander of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) and air missile test commander for Commander, Task Force 70 (CTF 70). “We use the air defense to protect the carrier strike group to include the air wing, which also provides defense for our surface assets.”
TS 13 is a biennial training exercise aimed at improving ADF and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force.
“The exercise allows U.S. and Australia air defense assets to execute a pre-planned response to a hostile threat,” said Lt. Bill Webb, George Washington’s tactical actions officer. “One scenario we conduct is to have our aircraft act as enemy combatants. We then intercept them using our other aircraft, ships, and Australian forces. Integrating our forces definitely makes us stronger.”
The alliance between the two nations provides ADF with access to technology and defenses that increases the capacity and strength of its forces.
“We integrated HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) this year into the strike group and for today’s exercise, we had the Royal Australian Air Force solely providing assets,” said Cornejo. “Prior to integrating Sydney, we conducted classroom training. Once we got underway, we activated Sydney as the alternate air missile defense commander. Now we’re finally conducting TS 13 and testing each other’s air and weapons capability.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.