At Sea - Only two weeks after embarking USS CHIEF (MCM 14), Crew DOMINANT began her Certification Verification. This is a major assessment performed by Afloat Training Group Pacific designed to verify that the crew has maintained its warfare mission area certifications from their last full training cycle. This assessment was formerly known as ULTRA-S, but has been modified into its current form by the recently approved Surface Forces Readiness Manual (SFRM).
The morning of 27 February commenced with gusto as Crew DOMINANT engineers were waiting for the ATG inspectors with the engineering plant lit off. They met “Safe to Train” requirements less than an hour later and proceeded with their assessed evolutions and drills while “pushing the pier.” At the same time, ATG assessors across all other warfare areas assessed the crew’s administration and installed combat systems and seamanship equipment. The day culminated with a successful main space fire drill. With the drill complete, the assessors departed for the evening while Crew DOMINANT made preparations for the following days’ events.
Day 2 started swiftly with Crew DOMINANT flawlessly executing all Force Protection (FP) drills for both sections while ATG assessors continued their administration checks in the other warfare areas. With the FP drills complete, the first part of Damage Control (DC) drills were conducted. By 1700, all drills were complete and the ATG assessors departed to allow Crew DOMINAT to complete all preparations needed for the following days’ events at sea.
Day 3 started out bright and early with Commodore Chase of Mine Countermeasures Squadron THREE embarking USS CHIEF. Crew DOMINANT took her to sea promptly just before 0800 on February 29th. Immediately the navigation team began their ATG assessment as USS CHIEF transited through the restricted waters of San Diego harbor out to sea.
With Point Loma astern and opening in distance, the Navigation team completed their successful assessment and Crew DOMINANT shifted their focus to the day’s main event: the Total Ship’s Survivability Exercise (TSSE). This event pushes the crew through its paces of self-defense, weapons employment, damage control and overall combat effectiveness. The TSSE kicked off with simulated small boat attack and the event continued with the crew combating multiple simulated casualties showing their ATG assessors just how they would deal with them in case they really occur. Two hours after the TSSE started, it was over with most areas receiving high marks. After successfully completing several medical casualty control drills, Crew DOMINANT brought USS CHIEF to anchor south of Coronado’s famous beaches to complete their Navigation assessment. This allowed Commodore Chase and a few ATG assessors to be transferred to shore by small boat. After the personnel transfer was complete, CHIEF heaved around her anchor and proceeded back to sea to continue with her assessed evolutions.
At dusk, USS CHIEF arrived at the practice mine field area. Crew DOMINANT lowered the sonar into hull mount and prepared to conducted her mine warfare detect to engage (DTE) assessment. After her sonar operators (MNCS Williamson and MN3 Zamora) located a mine-like object, the MIW Evaluator, LTJG Cass brought USS CHIEF into a hover. While USS CHIEF stayed near motionless in the hover, the Mine Neutralization Vehicle (MNV) was lowered into water. MNC Kersey piloted the MNV to prosecute the contact three separate times to successfully complete the assessed DTE sequence.
With the day’s assessed events complete, Crew DOMINANT set USS CHIEF on a western course to rendezvous with USNS HENRY KAISER the following morning. With the weather deteriorating, Crew DOMINANT commenced her assessed astern refueling evolution early on March 1st. The refueling detail performed superbly under the leadership of the direction provided by MN1 Snyder and MN2 McReynolds. The entire event lasted over 3 hours as USS CHIEF pitched and rolled while connected by the refueling hose to USNS HENRY KAISER.
Shortly after the refueling evolution was completed, Crew DOMINANT shifted focus to the next assessed evolution. Deck division quickly set to work on the deployment of a 5(A) combination influence sweep. This sweep configuration is specifically designed to counter mines that are designed to detonate based on a ship’s magnetic and acoustic signatures. This sweep employs the TB-27 (acoustic noise generator), the magnetic influence cable and the mechanical sweep wires. The sweep wires are specifically used to divert the acoustic and magnetic cable. Only six hours after starting the sweep, it was recovered and Crew DOMINANT completed the fourth day of the CV on another high note.
The final day of CV started with man overboard drills within sight of San Diego. After Ensign Spinoza, Crew DOMINANT’s Search and Rescue swimmer, completed his final rescue drill, the crew set Sea and Anchor a final time for the underway. Two hours later they moored at 32nd Street. The ATG assessors departed and the crew transitioned USS CHIEF from at-sea to in-port after successfully completing their Certification Verification.