At Sea -- The ballistic missile defense destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the Republic of Korea ship Kang Gam Chan (DDGHM-979) in the South China Sea on February 13th, 2013.
The Kang Gam Chan and her crew were returning from a counter piracy deployment to the Arabian Gulf when they rendezvoused with the USS Higgins for the exercise. The PASSEX consisted of several different components to reinforce navigation and tactical skills such as visual signaling, tactical maneuvering and data link operations.
Ens Colin Doherty was the conning officer throughout the exercise, maneuvering Higgins into different formations with the Kang Gam Chan. He said, “This was my first time operating with another country’s Navy on the bridge as the conning officer. I thought it was a great learning experience that I will carry with me in my naval career.”
The PASSEX was Higgins’s first exercise on her 2013 deployment that involved a foreign navy. Ltjg. Kristen Gall, the ship’s Navigator, enjoyed conducting operations with the Republic of Korea Navy. She said, “The PASSEX with the South Koreans was a unique experience that enabled us to not only sharpen our navigational skill set but reinforce our solid relationship with the Republic of Korea. It was great to get all of our quartermasters out on the bridge wings practicing visual communications and enjoying the morning rain showers.”
For the Higgins Commanding Officer, Cdr. Andrew F. Carlson, the PASSEX served as a tangible representation of a global partnership for maritime security. He said, “This was a superb chance to operate with our Korean partners, but really was an opportune moment to welcome home a fellow destroyer from forward deployed operations, even as we head further west on our deployment.”
The USS Higgins departed San Diego, Jan. 14, with the Nimitz Surface Action Group (SAG), which also includes embarked Destroyer Squadron 23, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Shoup (DDG 86), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110). The SAG will be deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions