USS PEARL HARBOR, At sea
–- Crew members of the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) conducted a combat systems training evolution Nov. 18 to keep their warfighting skills sharp on the current deployment.
For the drill, the ship simulated an inbound missile attack and Sailors working in the ship’s Combat Information Center (CIC) relied on a steady “team” concept to enhance their ability to make the split-second decisions needed to keep the ship safe.
“Everyone has to work together,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Cortney Jackson, CIC work center supervisor. “There’s a lot of communication going around the room. The key thing is just letting everyone play their role.”
During such training evolutions, Jackson is one of many bodies positioned around CIC. While he mans his station in the corner of the room, a row of Sailors sit side-by-side in the middle of the room. Their faces are illuminated by the faint glow of their computer and radar screens, while the overhead lights cast a dim blue tone over them.
The watch standers are busy at their stations, determining friendlies from hostiles and gathering information to paint an accurate picture of what is happening outside of the ship. All the while, a team of Sailors in blue hats stands back and observes the event.
These Sailors are part of the ship’s Combat Systems Training Team (CSTT). They pool together their combined years of knowledge to determine if the watch standers are ready for the real thing. They play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the ship and everyone aboard it.
“I love training and mentoring Sailors,” said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Thomas Johnson, CSTT Coordinator. “Seeing them excel at their duties and seeing them be able to respond to a drill that we give them and act the way they’re supposed to act and make the appropriate decisions allows me to know that we’ve trained them the right way.”
Johnson said the drill went well. Although he knows that there are always areas the team can approve on.
“There were some minor rough areas,” said Johnson. “It’s just brushing up on skills from taking time off. That’s why we run the drills prior to getting in theater so that they can get back into the mentality of what they need to be thinking about at all times.”
Pearl Harbor left its homeport of San Diego Nov. 14, and Johnson said he and his team know that now is the time to get the watch standers on top of their game. Mistakes can be made safely during these training sessions. It’s a different story, however, when the ship arrives in a potentially hostile environment.
“We all have to work together and come together as one team to make sure the ship stays safe,” said Jackson. “Everyone did really well. CSTT makes sure we train hard. They make sure we’re always improving.”
Both Johnson and Jackson have been around the world with this ship and much of this crew before. They both know that the extra hours drilling and training every possible scenario imaginable will ensure another safe deployment for everyone.
Pearl Harbor deployed Nov. 14 in support of the Navy’s Maritime Strategy, along with the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), which make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy’s Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.