ABOARD USS O'KANE, Pacific Ocean (NNS) -- Pearl Harbor-based USS O'Kane (DDG 77) conducted fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft countermeasure exercises, as part of its composite training exercises off the coast of Southern California Sept. 23.
Cmdr. J.J. Duke, O'Kane's commanding officer, said the exercise was designed to allow O'Kane to test its tactics and exercise and its command and control procedures in the event of an asymmetric attack from small, fast boats or other watercraft.
"Today, the Navy is operating in the littoral or coastal environment," said Duke, a Virginia Beach, Va., native. "Up through the Cold War, large destroyers were equipped to fight on the open ocean. Littoral operations present a unique threat of attack from small boats because of their speed, mobility and their ability to mass in large numbers."
Another unique threat posed by small boats is their ability to blend in with pleasure craft and fishing fleets.
"It can be very difficult to determine a small boat's intention," said Duke.
For the exercise, O'Kane manned its small craft action teams (SCAT) to respond to three high-speed, rigid hull inflatable boats deployed from San Clemente Island to simulate a small boat attack on O'Kane.
"The exercise gave our SCAT teams a chance to become familiar with preplanned responses and work on communication between the teams and the bridge," said Ens. Todd George, O'Kane's force protection officer.
After the SCAT was unable to determine the small boat's intentions , O'Kane then began to work through a series of steps that ultimately could have led to the destruction of the small craft.
"I am a SCAT 50 caliber machine gunner," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Andrew Luckenbill. "My job was, if nothing else works, to deliver lethal force in defense of the ship."
Luckenbill said the exercise went well. The teams made all of the necessary reports and warnings that may precede permission to fire, or "batteries release" order.
"This was great training for the upcoming deployment," said Luckenbill, a Harrisburg, Pa., native, "especially considering that we may be operating in 5th Fleet, where there are many small craft and the ship has to transit narrow straights. It is important that we practice being on the lookout and maintaining situational awareness. That way, if something happens, the ship is prepared."
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