USS MCCAMPBELL, At Sea (NNS) -- Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and the "Warlords" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 51 based in Atsugi, Japan successfully completed a torpedo drop and recovery exercise Aug. 24 in the western Pacific Ocean.
One MK-46 recovery exercise torpedo (REXTORP) was dropped from an SH-60B Seahawk Helicopter several hundred yards from McCampbell and was quickly recovered by a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) deployed from the ship.
According to helicopter pilot Lt. j.g. Nicholas Cardillo, pilots have to meet certain qualifications which include torpedo drops, at least once a year.
"We went out there and dropped a MK-46 REXTORP," said Cardillo. "Basically we were doing a torpedo exercise. We do a lot of them in the sim (simulator), but we have to meet certain qualifications where we drop an actual REXTORP."
Torpedo exercises are a vital training evolution for helicopter pilots. But it takes the work of many Sailors executing a variety of tasks to accomplish a successful mission.
"It's not just a training evolution for the pilots themselves, it's for the whole ship and the air detachment," said Cardillo. "Everyone has a part. From prepping the torpedo, loading it on the helicopter, going through all the preflight and making sure all the safety's done."
While the exercise is being completed, communication between the helicopter and the ship is essential.
"Everything we do is a team effort. The helicopter's an extension of the ship. So during everything we do we're constantly talking with the ship and it works both ways," said Cardillo. "They're providing us information that we may not have in the aircraft and at the same time we're sending them things that they might not be able to get from their sensors."
Sailors on the flight deck who load the torpedo onto the helicopter are also critical to the evolution. In fact, loading the REXTORP is often a several-hour training exercise in itself.
According to Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Horacio Rodriguez, whose job includes inspecting and loading the torpedo, attaching a torpedo to a helicopter can be done in less than an hour, but the process of moving and inspecting the torpedo and release control checks can add 30 to 60 minutes to the process.
"I have been here for about two years, and we've done about four torpedo loads," said Rodriguez. "Last year we got it done within an hour."
According to Rodriguez, the torpedo exercises are beneficial for him because he gets to brush up on some of the loading procedures. They are beneficial to the crew, because the pilots in the aircraft and Sailors on the ship get enough realistic experience to not only initiate this type of evolution in a combat setting, but complete the mission successfully.
"You can do these all day in the simulator and it has that artificial computer feel to it," said Cardillo. "In order to really get experience and really practice it you have to put the practice torpedo on the helicopter and do it in actual real-time and in real-life conditions."
McCampbell is the newest addition to the forward-deployed naval forces and operates out of Yokosuka, Japan. McCampbell is part of Destroyer Squadron 15.
For more news from USS McCampbell, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/ddg85/