7th Fleet Ships Engage in Synthetic Training
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Ryan Smith
YOKOSUKA, Japan Sailors aboard USS Stethem (DDG 63) engage in training with Navy assets from U.S. 3rd Fleet and Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces; without ever leaving the pier at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s berth eight.

Fleet Synthetic Training (FST) is an inter-linked digital training program allowing ships underway or pier side to conduct realistic combat training scenarios.

“FST training can cover ballistic missile defense, anti-surface, anti-submarine or anti-air warfare,” said Chief Warrant Officer Chris McKenzie, Stethem’s FST coordinator.
“We can also incorporate ships at sea, aircraft and land-based missile batteries, as well as Japan Maritime Self Defense Force units.”

FST was introduced in 2009 with the goal of reducing at-sea training time for ships, thus reducing operating costs. It also allows ships and units that are separated over great geographic distances to conduct integrated training with allied forces near and far. With the wide range of options available with FST, is has become one of the best options for forward deployed ships to conduct training.

“My mission as ballistic missile defense officer (BMDO) is to alert other elements out of radar range of a missile headed their direction,” said Lt. j.g. Jhon Alseide, Stethem’s BMDO. “This training is one of the best tools we have to prepare for real world scenarios.”

FST gives each command access to low cost training that can be tailored to the individual unit’s needs. It also allows greater flexibility in training schedules, and allows ships to be better prepared for whatever challenges they may have to meet.

“This is some of the best preparation for real world missions,” said McKenzie. We not only get hands on training with the equipment, but we also coordinate with ships from other countries and other areas of operation.”

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