PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) conducted an opposed replenishment-at-sea (RAS) training exercise with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187) and a Los Angeles-class attack submarine playing the part as an enemy threat, May 11.
The America ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22).
During the opposed RAS, both America and Pearl Harbor received stores as they steamed alongside Henry J. Kaiser with Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) out front and San Diego in the rear, all while being engaged by a simulated threat.
Additionally, helicopters assigned to the "Wildcards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 airlifted pallets of stores from ship to ship. The simulated submarine threat, represented by USS Pasadena (SSN 752), helped assure that a complex yet routine evolution such as a RAS can be executed in a contested area.
"Ultimately the business that we're in is warfighting. When we deploy, we're going to be at sea for extended periods of time which will require us to take on fuel and supplies while underway," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (IW/SW) Armando Rodriguez, team leader for the ship's nautical or otherwise photographic interpretation and examination team. "With us being tethered to Henry J. Kaiser, as we were today, we would become a vulnerable target, had we not been strategically aligned for opposing forces. So training for an opposed RAS is critical, especially as we prepare for deployment."
Being able to conduct underway replenishment is key to ensuring U.S. forces in the region can remain ready and prepared to rapidly respond to crises across the spectrum of operations from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to armed conflict.
"This exercise designed for when we go into theater in 5th Fleet, when we are in a harm's way," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Jorge Gallegos, a combat information center watch officer.
When Pasadena was detected as the simulated threat, the America ARG's immediate defensive response was to 'go dark' by decreasing the ships electromagnetic signature.
"Because we shut down most of our sensors, it was difficult for us to detect the sub's location," said Gallegos. "So Preble, who was operating all their sensors, also supported by seeking out the sub and up-linking us that info."
Preble employed tactics that assured that assets from the ARG were protected during the opposed RAS, that will prove effective in a real-world scenario. On the decks of the surface combatants, training and teamwork made all the difference in the scenario's execution.
"This is a very difficult evolution to complete and we executed it to the letter," said Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Brill, America's assistant operations officer. "The training scenarios and exercises we are executing now are preparing us for possible situations that could occur during our upcoming deployment. It's imperative that we train the way we fight so when we are called upon, we fight the way we have trained."
The America ARG is commanded by CPR 3 and currently conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of California. The exercise is designed to forge the ships of the America Amphibious Ready group into a fully-functioning combat force providing a robust set of sea-based capabilities, an extensive set of ship-to-shore connectors, and the ability to respond to crises and deter transnational threats. This enables the Navy-Marine Corps team to shape actions across the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible.
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