USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) completed a series of training evolutions with Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1 during a passing exercise (PASSEX) in the Mediterranean Sea March 24-25.
During the two-day exercise, nine ships from multiple navies were provided the opportunity to work together to promote communications, interoperability and partnership for the shared goal of maintaining the safety and security of the region's sea lanes.
"PASSEX allows the Enterprise CSG to train with our coalition partners, build on relationships and maintain our interoperability," said Cmdr. Richard D. Brawley, surface operations officer for Carrier Strike Group 12.
One of the evolutions conducted was a link exercise (LINKEX), which employed the Link-11 and Link-16 tactical data link systems to trade communications, intelligence and other data directly among all the ships in the exercise.
The ships used these systems during an air-defense exercise to increase self defense and create a better situational awareness.
"During the exercise we're tracking the other NATO ships, merchant vessels in the area and several contacts playing the role of hostiles all at the same time," said Operations Specialist Seaman Recruit Sarah Fowler, an assistant surface watchstander. "The training was definitely intense because you have to be on point all the time."
U.S. and NATO Sailors from each ship also had the opportunity to cross-deck to the other ships. Sailors toured spaces and met with their counterparts to get a feel for how Sailors on the other ships live and work.
"The visits allow the Sailors to build a mutual understanding of one another," said Brawley. "This way the Sailors get a face with the name. When we do an exercise with NATO, we now have a personal relationship to build upon and spread esprit de corps with the rest of the crew around the ship."
According to Brawley, the exchange was also beneficial to visiting staff, who were able to see first-hand the related procedures and protocol used by the different navies. This better prepares Enterprise officers to be able to provide products NATO units may request.
"The exercise was very beneficial to our watchstanders because it prepares you to work with other nations," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Milandy Rodriguez, assistant surface watch officer. "This will help us as we begin our deployment and enter the 5th Fleet area of responsibility."
This PASSEX involved aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Nitze, USS Porter, USS James E. Williams and the guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg, all part of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group.
SNMG 1 is comprised of the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS De Ruyter (F 804), the Spanish Navy frigate Alvaro de Bazan (F 101), the German Navy frigate FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (F 209), and the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339).
Enterprise and the rest of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group are deployed to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
Training evolutions like PASSEX are important elements of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department.
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