GW Strike Group Sharpens ASW Skills 
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shannon Heavin, Commander Task Force 70 Public Affairs  
PHILIPPINE SEA - Sailors of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group participated in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise during their 2013 patrol, Sept. 19-20.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), and USS Preble (DDG 88) and their respective helicopter squadron detachments worked with the forward deployed Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 to search and track a U.S. submarine.

"Anti-submarine warfare is one of the core missions of the surface fleet, and it is critical that we participate in exercises such as this one to hone our skills," said Cmdr. Joseph Ring, commanding officer of Mustin. "I enjoy the friendly competition between Mustin and our opposing force submarine as well as between the surface ships, as we work to detect and engage the submarine while trying to remain undetected ourselves."

Additionally, the destroyers provided protection to George Washington, which played the role of a high value asset.

"The job of the escorts is to defend the carrier, and the goal of the submarine is to attack the carrier, thus the ships are in communications with each other and with George Washington," said Lt. Geoffrey Biegel, submarine operations officer of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. "If one unit gains contact they pass that word, to other units, in following, the Anti-Submarine commander, directs the units and prosecutes the direction of helicopter assets to ensure the threat stays as far away from the carrier as possible."

"We execute this exercise in partnership with the Destroyer Squadron 15, as well as our strike group destroyers that escort us around here, so while it's a great opportunity for George Washington and our helicopter squadrons to practice, really this exercise benefits the strike group as whole and that makes us that much better and prepared to carry out one of our potential real world missions," said Capt. Greg Fenton, commanding officer of George Washington.

ASW exercises are performed frequently to maintain and further develop Sailors' level of expertise and tactics. However, it is rare for Sailors to track a live submarine.

"We get a lot of structured on board training, but an opportunity to have an actual submarine to track, where it's not scripted causes the training to simulate a much closer real world ASW threat," said Biegel.

"It provides a great opportunity for all of my Sailors, from my experienced Sailors to my brand new Sailors, that have joined the team to be able to practice their techniques," said Fenton. "This provides very significant amounts of training which can contribute to overall readiness of the ship."

Ring concluded that his crew from a smaller scale gained the value of communication.

"For our crew, operating together with the strike group yields invaluable experience in communicating and coordinating a complex problem like hunting a submarine," said Ring. "The old adage that we must 'train like we fight because we will fight like we train,' could not be more relevant. Building our proficiency now with realistic exercises will prepare us to counter potential adversaries in the future."

U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier George Washington, its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, and escort ships provide a combat-ready force that protects the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
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