SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) moored at Naval Base Point Loma's deperming pier, Feb. 6-9, for an evolution which would put her crew to the test.
Deperming is a technique used by the U.S. Navy to reduce the magnetic signature of its warships. An all-hands event, the crew wrapped almost 80 cables, ranging 220-650 feet in length, around the vessel. Once wrapped, the cables are charged repeatedly helping to negate the magnetism the ship has built up over time. This process makes the ship less vulnerable to mines.
Since summer 2000, Lake Erie has been the Navy's premiere ballistic missile defense test ship for the Pacific Fleet. As such, she completed various short deployments. However this spring, she and her crew will be put to the test as she joins Carrier Strike Group 11, alongside aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), for her first full deployment in several years.
With such a gap in deployments, Lake Erie was long overdue for a magnetic overhaul.
"Our ship definitely needed the treatment," said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Jones, chief engineer. "The contractors said we had the worst magnetic signature they had seen in five years."
The crew is busy not only preparing the ship physically, but also mentally preparing the crew for the rigors of life at sea.
"I think everyone started to realize that deployment is very real and that it is coming up fast," Chief Gunner's Mate Oscar Gonzalez said. "Even though the ship has been preparing for about a year now, this is the first real checklist item that makes us a worldwide-deployable asset."
The biggest success of the entire evolution was the shipwide cooperation.
"I was glad to see the entire ship working together as a team," said Capt. Darren McPherson, Lake Erie's commanding officer. "We've been doing so many events that were division- or individual-mission areas. This is one of the first times that we have had the opportunity to all work together -- engineers standing beside operations department Sailors, standing beside supply department personnel. It was a beautiful sight. 'Team Lake Erie' will have many more events like this in the months to come."
That positive team spirit flowed from leadership through the entire crew.
"It was amazing having everyone out there," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Jordan Gray. "The commanding officer, executive officer, and command master chief were out there in the trenches with us."
U.S. Navy guided-missile cruisers are multi-mission surface combatants capable of supporting carrier strike groups, amphibious readiness groups, surface action groups, or operating independently.
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