GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The crews of USS Miami (SSN 755) and USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) returned to Naval Submarine Base New London July 24 and 26, respectively, after successful deployments in support of Summer Pulse '04, part of the Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP).
According to Fleet Forces Command (CFFC), the FRP is a new method of "operating, training, manning, and maintaining the fleet that results in increased force readiness, and the ability to provide significant combat power to the President in response to a national emergency or crisis."
During Summer Pulse '04, seven carrier strike groups (CSGs) deployed simultaneously, operating in five theaters with other U.S., allied and coalition military forces. This surge demonstrated to friends and foes the Navy's ability to respond on short notice with substantial sea-based power. Miami surged with the USS Enterprise (CV 65) CSG, and Albuquerque surged with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) CSG.
For Summer Pulse '04, the crews of Albuquerque and Miami were given more than 30 days notice of their participation. However, in a real crisis, the FRP would give the Navy the opportunity to forward deploy or surge six CSGs within 30 days, plus two additional
CSGs within 90 days.
Miami Commanding Officer Cmdr. Joe Wiegand said one of the great things about the exercise was it gave him the opportunity to get a large number of his crew qualified.
"I was able to qualify three officers and five enlisted in submarines...there was tremendous amount of professional development," he said.
Summer Pulse '04 gave Miami and Albuquerque the opportunity to work with navies from more than a dozen countries.
"There were navies from Germany, France, Poland, England, and Spain...this was an amazing opportunity not only to work with those different navies, but to work with NATO, communicating with them and performing coordinated operations," said Wiegand.
Albuquerque also worked with a number of international navies and participated in an exercise dubbed Majestic Eagle.
"Overseas, we took part in Majestic Eagle, which is a large international exercise with several aircraft carriers shifting roles, sometimes orange forces and sometimes blue forces, but working together with international navies to demonstrate the ability to come together on short notice and deliver a lot of firepower," said Albuquerque Commanding Officer Cmdr. Stuart B. Munsch.
"We did submarine warfare against nuclear and diesel submarines," added Wiegand. "We did surface warfare against ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare)-capable units, and we were able to do ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance] along the coastline and pass information along to our task group."
One thing that was unique about Summer Pulse '04, said Wiegand, was that his crew was able to come back from deployment last February, and three months later, leave for this three-month surge.
"We haven't been sitting idle for those three months either," said Wiegand. "We spent a month in the Gulf of Mexico where we completed some tactical development exercises. We also had the opportunity to do a namesake city visit down in Port Everglades and meet with the folks from Miami."
For the crew of Albuquerque, who hasn't spent a lot of time operating out of the local area, Summer Pulse was just what they needed to get their war face on.
"This is the first time the ship has gone out of local waters in about four years," said Munsch. "The ship had been in a two-year overhaul and had some extended maintenance before the overhaul. And in the year since the overhaul was completed, we've just been here on the Atlantic coast. So it's our first time overseas in four years.
"For virtually everybody aboard, this was the first time with Albuquerque," he said. "(Summer Pulse '04) was a bit of a test before we go on deployment and everything went quite well. It was a good run."
Wiegand noted that his crew was ready to spend the waning summer months with their families.
"The crew is very happy to be home," he said. "They are looking forward to being reunited with their families before school starts up."
Even though the crew is happy to be home, Wiegand said they are ready to go if called upon.
"If we have to surge again in the coming weeks, the capability is definitely there," he said. "All in all, my crew is very positive right now. My retention is just as high as anyone in the fleet. It's been a superb underway, and I'm very proud of my crew. They did a fantastic job."
Munsch also lauded his crew for their performance and noted that FRP was very successful for the submarine force.
"The crew performed very well," said Munsch. "The crew always comes together once you've been underway a little bit of time. Everybody draws closer based on his common experiences, and we're ending on a real high note here.
"I think the FRP works fine the way it is from a submarine force perspective," he continued. "We're usually ready at any time when they call upon us, and this is a good illustration of the number of boats that are able to get up and go."
For more information about Summer Pulse '04, visit the CFFC Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm or visit the Summer Pulse '04 Navy NewsStand site at www.news.navy.mil/local/pulse04.
For more news from around the fleet, visit the Navy NewsStand at www.news.navy.mil.