USS VICKSBURG, At Sea (NNS) -- The Operations department aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) took on some additional crew members while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Jan. 19.
Sailors from other platforms including aircraft carriers and shore commands, are underway with Vicksburg during its composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX) to learn how the many moving parts of a carrier strike group come together to accomplish a larger mission.
"It is important to cross-train on various platforms," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class (SW) Andrew M. Jowder, USS Vicksburg Operations department.
"A lot of the junior Sailors may not see the big picture, especially if they have only been on the carrier or on shore," said Jowder.
Performing on a variety of platforms is meant to not only help Sailors perform their in-rate skills better, but also give them experience in other areas as well.
Junior Sailors are taught, through real-world experience, what the role of the guided-missile cruiser is within the strike group and how it can be accomplished most effectively.
"I've learned things more completely than I had before," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Apprentice Brennen O'Brien-Cahill, who is temporarily assigned to the Vicksburg from aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).
"I'm learning more about maintenance and getting a lot of good mentorship from the operations community here," said O'Brien-Cahill.
"On a larger platform it's difficult for someone as junior as I am to get real hands on experience at the strike group level," said O'Brien-Cahill.
Sailors from larger platforms have the potential to learn what it is like to be a Sailor on a smaller ship where the mission is to protect the carrier, and to understand what that really means.
"I feel more involved in every aspect and I get to know more people," said O'Brien-Cahill.
The mentorship and experience Sailors get from this exchange is also meant to prepare them for real combat scenarios.
"COMPTUEX is as close to major combat operations as we get for training purposes," said Lt. Cmdr. Noble Hetherington III, USS Vicksburg operations officer.
"This is where the rubber meets the road. We need this type of tailored training or we could potentially lose the valuable lessons we learned on our last deployment," said Hetherington.
First-time Sailors can see tactical training in the most basic phases of a ship's certification."
Mentorship is another aspect of this exchange and provides senior Sailors an opportunity to pass down their years of experience to junior Sailors.
"It is imperative that we have this training on ships at the deckplate level," said Hetherington.
Vicksburg and the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group are underway conducting a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX). COMPTUEX is designed to bring every part of a strike group together to work effectively and efficiently as one cohesive unit, ensuring overall readiness prior to a regular deployment.
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