NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Since the return of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) (HST) to homeport after wrapping up Summer Pulse '04, HST crew members have had time to reflect on the tasks completed.
Summer Pulse '04, the first exercise of the Fleet Response Plan (FRP), was directed toward teamwork and joint operations, with seven carrier strike groups simultaneously operating in five theaters with other U.S., allied and coalition military forces.
"It was the first time something of that magnitude has taken place," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class (SW) Jacob Wells. "It was a good show of force as far as the United States in foreign countries [is concerned], and it proved our ability to be ready with shorter notice."
"It was getting us more prepared for our job," added Operations Specialist Seaman Jeana Koschosk-Mullen. "We learned what our weaknesses were, but also where our strengths lie."
Truman completed its combat operations efficiency certification, formerly known as blue water certification, in addition to deploying for Summer Pulse '04 with six other carrier strike groups.
"Achieving combat operations efficiency certification is a key milestone for the ship and air wing team," said Truman's executive officer, Capt. Ladd Wheeler. "It allows us to depart from the ties to land."
This certification makes it possible for ships to cross the ocean without the need for a land-based airstrip nearby.
Both Truman and USS Monterey (CG 61) stopped for a five-day port visit to Naples, Italy, early in July, where many Sailors had their first look at Europe.
"It was my first port visit," said Koschosk-Mullen. "It was arranged well and I thought it was great."
Truman's strike group participated in a number of operations during the two-month underway period, including Maritime Integrated Tailored Training (MITT), a team-building joint war game conducted off the coast of the southeastern United States.
"MITT is meant to ramp up to COMPTUEX, to get the strike group ready for it," said Lt. Bill Lewis, tactical support center officer for Truman. "We were the first strike group to get a torpedo off and re-attack a submarine in the simulated exercises."
During the exercise, American submarines posed as enemy craft and attacked the strike group. A helicopter, directed from Truman, was then deployed to retaliate by launching a simulated torpedo against the attacking submarine.
MITT trained Sailors of the strike group in anti-submarine and surface warfare training, teaching new techniques and technology to make the strike group a more cohesive and more effective team.
The strike group also participated in Exercise Majestic Eagle, which took place off the coast of Morocco. The multinational exercise involved nine other allied nations, including Morocco, Italy and the United Kingdom.
"There were a lot of lessons learned," said Lewis. "It helped towards integration of our forces."
Truman participated as an extension of the FRP, gaining valuable training time and gauging the abilities of our cumulative forces with several allied nations.
"It gave us the opportunity to work with other countries and see other ships," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class (SW/AW) Tamario Weathersby. "It also gave us a chance to test our own strike group."
"It was a great unilateral effort," said Wells. "By the end of the joint effort, we had enhanced the skills we had already learned."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.