Since its inception, the Mine Warfare (MIW) Mission Area has faced many challenges. Namely, underway restrictions and limited resources have hampered combat readiness and effectiveness on board Mine Countermeasure (MCM) ships. Currently, there are 10 rotational MCM crews based out of Naval Base San Diego that deploy to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. Due to a lack of MCM hulls stateside and reduced underway time, MCM community leaders, crews, and assessors have begun seeking other means to accomplish training requirements for bridge and Combat Information Center (CIC) watchstanders that is cost effective and able to capture underway and combat operations.
On MCM Class ships, the tactical action officer (MIW Evaluator) is required to work in perfect unison with the Bridge Watch Team to safely and effectively navigate mine threat areas in a manner that no other Navy ship is required to do. To this end, Afloat Training Group San Diego’s MIW assessors, led by Senior Chief Mineman (SW) Travis Ramsey, along with the assistance of retired U.S. Navy captains and commanders at the Navigation Seamanship and Shiphandling Trainer (NSST) at Naval Base San Diego have begun conducting underway and MIW training to San Diego based MCM Crews. Utilizing the NSST, training teams have been able to simulate for bridge and CIC watch stations underway and MIW operations, including track driving, bridge resource management, mine neutralization operations, mine hunting, and mine sweeping.
In September 2013, the first two MCM crews, MCM Crew Leader and MCM Crew Swerve, attended the NSST during their basic phase training. The overall consensus was that simulated underway and MIW operations and the life-like visual cues offered the watchstanders a valuable and effective training environment. In light of this positive feedback, more MCM crews and afloat training organizations may turn to the NSST as a viable training alternative to real-world underway operations.