ABOARD USS MOBILE BAY (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) keeps a close watch on USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group, providing air defense during Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Arabian Gulf.
A versatile crew, Mobile Bay's personnel and arsenal protect Lincoln from all manner of attack, whether land, air or sea. Many of the Sailors responsible for providing that protection man the Combat Information Center (CIC), communicating with each other and the rest of the strike group. CIC watch officer Ens. Eric Moss said a team of professionals keep the ship safe.
"We accomplish this through a series of watchstanders," Moss said. "We have an air side and a surface side who all talk to the Tactical Action Officer (TAO) who puts all the pieces together and determines any actions we need to take."
The process begins with the radar and electronics systems, which can identify and track anything in the air, incoming missiles and other threats, said Capt. Denny Wetherald, USS Mobile Bay commanding officer.
"We have a phenomenal radar; the Spy-1A, which works with the spy radars on the destroyers and the carrier," Wetherald said. "It puts up an electric bubble around the strike group so we know anything that flies near the carrier whether it's friendly, commercial or hostile aircraft."
In the worst-case scenario, the guided-missile cruiser stands ready and able to defend Lincoln and the other ships in Strike Group 9, said Lt.j.g. John Patterson, Mobile Bay's force protection officer.
"Mobile Bay, being the closest ship to the carrier, we're taking on a lot of responsibility should small boats try and attack the carrier," Patterson said. "In that situation, we'd try to position ourselves between the carrier and the threat and take on a lot of the force protection responsibility for protecting the ship."
Moss said Mobile Bay's weapon system is key in defending the strike group.
"Everything ties into the Aegis Weapon System," Moss said. "We have our radars to track air contact, vertically launched missiles, Tomahawks, Harpoons and torpedoes for anti-ship defense."
Mobile Bay is also equipped with a five inch gun for use in air or surface contacts, Moss added.
Inside the five-inch gun mount, Gunner's Mate Seaman Alaina McDonald stands watch. She only shoots the guns during training exercises, so her days mostly consist of cleaning, but she knows all about her station.
"It holds 20 rounds in the drum, 13 nautical miles maximum range, approximately 10 miles effective range," said McDonald. "It doesn't miss too often; during one recent exercise we used it and shot with 97 percent accuracy."
Approximately 350 Sailors live on board Mobile Bay to keep a watchful eye on the strike group and accomplish the normal daily missions of any ship in the fleet.
"I'd like to think that as a smaller ship and a smaller crew, we have a tighter crew," Wetherald said. "I'm very proud of this ship and I'm very proud of our Sailors, there's a lot of teamwork, camaraderie and investment in our junior Sailors."
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.