At Sea - From March 1st through March 4th, USS HIGGINS (DDG 76) and several MH-60R helicopters from Helicopter Squadron Seven Five (HSM-75) engaged a manned submarine with MK54 torpedoes. The ship used active and passive sonar, as well as lookouts and remotely operated cameras to locate the submarine target. The helicopters used a combination of sensors and processing equipment to locate the target before firing their own Mk54 torpedoes.
Weapon launches were in support of the Operational Test and Evaluation of the MK54 program. The exercise was one of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Special Projects designed to expand the experience of war-fighters while testing equipment upgrades. This event was coordinated by technicians and subject matter experts from Naval Undersea Warfare Center divisions in Keyport, Washington and Newport, Rhode Island. On an historic note, the first day of the exercise, March 1st, was the 70th anniversary of the first German U boat to be sunk by Naval Air forces when Patrol Squadron VP-82 dropped depth charges on U-656.
Although HIGGINS’ weapons department personnel played a large role in preparing and firing the exercise torpedoes, the entire ship was deeply involved in the process. The robust command and control capability inherent in the Arleigh Burke class destroyer enabled HIGGINS to support the NUWC and Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COTF) exercise directors. HIGGINS facilitated NUWC and COTF coordination with HSM-75 helicopters, spotter aircraft, and the Southern California range managers responsible for the waterspace and airspace used for such weapons testing events. Story by USS HIGGINS Public Affairs