By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Betsy Lynn Knapper, USS Gettysburg Public Affairs
USS GETTYSBURG, At Sea (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) participated in Saxon Warrior 2011 off the coast of England, May 20.
Saxon Warrior 11 is an exercise led by the United Kingdom-based Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST). It is designed to develop theater-specific combat skills as well as enhance cooperation between multi-national forces and government agencies. USS Gettysburg is training as part of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group.
"One of the exercises we ran today was an air defense exercise, and the HMS Dauntless (D 33) was activated as the air warfare commander for this event," said Lt. Curt W. Chaffinch, USS Gettysburg air defense officer. "They joined into our communications, command and control."
According to Chaffinch, Dauntless, a British navy destroyer, and her crew did all the tactics, techniques, procedures and reported in using the same communication circuits as Gettysburg would have done had they been executing the exercise as air defense commander for the strike group.
"Saxon Warrior provides us an opportunity, as a deployed force, to integrate coalition partners into our command structure and that is happening for the first time," said Capt. Patrick. O. Shea, USS Gettysburg commanding officer. "We are training in a deployed operation, so it improves our readiness should we become involved in any real world operations."
The exercise, non-scripted and unpredictable, consists of challenges for the multi-national and multi-platform force by creating a diverse war environment based on fictional geo-political and military scenarios.
"It is important for our navies to be able to work together under common mission objectives," said Shea. "The opportunity to integrate the Dauntless into our air defense structure is an important part of furthering that cooperation."
Dauntless has recently been certified to deploy as an anti-warfare platform and one of its last requirements is to join a U.S. strike group for a joint credit and work as an air defense commander.
"Today gave us an opportunity to see how our coalition partners work," said Chaffinch. "And it's even better in this case because we've not only got the United Kingdom here putting on all the events, but we have the Spanish destroyer ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon who has joined us as well."
"The opportunity to work with George H.W. Bush and Gettysburg as part of this exercise is unparalleled, really," said Lt. Cmdr. Steven Wall, an air warfare officer attached to Dauntless. "This has been a brilliant opportunity for us and we are so grateful. I think on both sides we are really learning a great deal about how each other operate, so this is a unique opportunity."
The George H.W. Bush Strike Group is made up of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22 staff, guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS Anzio (CG 68), and guided-missile destroyers USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and USS Mitscher (DDG 57).