By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Dionne, USS Fitzgerald Public Affairs
TIMOR SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) participated in an air defense exercise (ADEX) July 16 during exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 (TS 15).
The exercise provided the ship the opportunity to test its MK45 5-inch lightweight gun and its Phalanx Close-in weapon system (CIWS) in a real time environment.
"Live fire events such as this serve to improve overall readiness by providing the gunnery team with a dynamic target and the opportunity to get trigger time," said Cmdr. Christopher England, commanding officer of Fitzgerald. "There is no substitute for live fire events and we take advantage of every opportunity."
The exercise, which consisted of Fitzgerald firing its CIWS and 5-inch gun at a simulated target, is part of TS 15, a biennial exercise that provides an invaluable opportunity for nearly 30,000 U.S. and Australian Defence Forces to conduct operations in a combined, joint and interagency environment.
"The exercise allowed us to test watch stander capabilities, team procedures, and test and deploy procedures and tactics in an integrated strike group environment," said Lt. John Volkle, the ships weapons officer. "Everything about it went well, we established communications early, all the watch standers did an excellent job and the equipment performed as designed."
The exercise kicked off with a Lear jet towing a drone on a 22,000-foot cable, which served as a target for the ships 5-inch gun.
"The 5-inch is a crucial piece of equipment because it uses high-explosive rounds that can be used to neutralize surface, land and air targets," said Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Frederick Alayon, leading petty officer of combat gunnery division. "My group of Sailors got together to successfully engage the target and in order for this to happen it took a lot of attention to detail and precision. They did a wonderful job and I am very proud of them."
Sailors had the opportunity to fire the gun locally, providing valuable training time and to learn and operate the advanced and powerful system.
"Being able to fire the 5-inch was exhilarating and I was so happy to get the chance to do it," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Megan Smith. "I love what I do and I never thought I would have the opportunity to do something as exciting as this before the Navy."
Following the firing of the 5-inch, the jet made another pass over Fitzgerald towing a drone connected by a 13,000-foot cable to test the ships CIWS.
"[CIWS] has the ability to track and engage incoming targets and during the exercise it performed flawlessly," said Chief Fire Controlman Travius Caldwell. Any time we get the opportunity to test our communications and equipment in a combat systems scenario is priceless."
The CIWS is a point-defense weapon used for detecting and destroying short-range missiles and aircraft using both air and surface capabilities.
"The exercise was a great experience, we got to shoot about 400 rounds and the gear performed well," said Chad Schmidt, the mount captain for the CIWS. "The fact that it was able to aim and fire at such a small target is incredible. This gave us life-like training so that it becomes second nature to us if we need to use it in a real-life scenario."
Fitzgerald is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.