USS LAKE ERIE, At Sea (NNS) -- For the second time this year, USS Lake Erie (CG 70) successfully intercepted a ballistic target in space using the Navy's newest missile, the SM-3. On June 13 at 3:29 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time, Lake Erie launched the SM-3, tracked the missile throughout launch and recorded its intercept with the ballistic missile target. This event, designated as Flight Mission 3 (FM-3) was performed using no external sensors for mission execution and was conducted by the crew of Lake Erie.
FM-3 took place on the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) off the island of Kauai. Maj. Gen. Peter Franklin, deputy director of Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said, "This latest intercept from Lake Erie is yet another successful step along the path for a layered missile defense against a real and increasing threat. We are still in the early development of the capability, but the entire Navy team which includes the crew, program management, government employees and contractors are proving themselves up to the task."
This mission was the third major ballistic missile event the ship has participated in this year. The first event, designated Flight Mission 2, took place in January also off the coast of Kauai. While not officially envisioned as an intercept mission, the crew's performance exceeded all expectations and resulted in a direct impact with the target. The second major event, Systems Integration Test II (SIT II) occurred in April and was conducted near the Marshall Islands. SIT II was a Joint Missile Defense exercise which involved multiple Navy ships and Army land based defense sites and successfully demonstrated the Navy's role in defending the United States against future threats. Upon the crew's return to Pearl Harbor on May 12, Lake Erie began training for this latest mission as well as continuing to hone her skills as a deployable, combat-ready ship.
Lake Erie is one of the few ships in the Navy that can call herself a Hawaiian native. Commissioned in Pearl Harbor on July 24, 1993, Lake Erie has been homeported there ever since. Her crew of 400 has been working hard at fulfilling their dual mission as the lead ship in the Navy's Ballistic Missile Defense efforts while simultaneously maintaining their status as a fully-deployable combat ready unit.
Operations Specialist Seaman Peter Pennock said, "I am glad to be a small part of one of our nation's greatest defenses."
Being on the cutting edge of technology and pioneering a new warfare area for the Navy has been exciting for the crew of Lake Erie. Lt. Russell J. Corpron, tactical action officer, said, "It is a tremendous honor to be able to participate in pioneering missile defense from the sea. The success of FM-3 continues to enhance our ability to defend the homeland as well as allied nations."
The overall feeling in combat after the launch as described by Ensign Keil Storms, "was a cataclysmic euphoria mixed with a sudden sense of relief for a job well done in the role of Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD)."
For more information on USS Lake Erie, go to www.lake-erie.navy.mil.