The Navy developed the surface force’s capability to project power largely as one means of achieving or supporting control of the seas. To fill this very broad and general mission statement the many functions of the of surface forces include nuclear deterrence; maintaining forward presence; keeping lines of communication open, safe and secure; leading enhanced training missions with ally and partner navies to exchange and train tactics, techniques and procedures; providing and assisting in regional security and stability; controlling and maintaining the freedom of the seas; reconnaissance and intelligence missions; at-sea rescues; medical programs for ally and partner nations in need of aid, care and training; and assisting the EPA and other government and non-government organizations with marine cleanup.
Naval Presence means more than being at the right place at the right time to combat and deter aggression, it means maintaining an operationally ready forward presence to train with ally and partner nations to enhance interoperability and responding at a moment’s notice to provide humanitarian assistance, as demonstrated by Lake Erie’s presence in Sri Lanka. Other ships like USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) who are part of the second “Third Fleet Forward” Surface Action Group and are currently maintaining presence in the Western Pacific while operating with regional navies to conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability in the region.
Common interests among the maritime partners allow allied naval forces to implement and sustain economic security assuring safe and secure commerce on the world’s oceans. It also creates and sustains bonds between nations that make responding at a second’s notice to an ally in need, second nature. Ship like Lake Erie assisting Sri Lanka, or the Sri Lanka navy assisting USS Hopper (DDG 70) in an emergency medical evacuation Sept. 30, 2016. Navy officials called on the partner navy to assist Hopper, who was over 165 miles from shore and didn’t have an embarked helicopter aboard nor were they in close range to available U.S. air assets. Within hours, Hopper was approved to enter Sri Lankan territorial waters to conduct the medical evacuation via small boat. The medical team provided continuous care for the patient while Hopper made the best speed to get closer to Sri Lanka.
Surface Warfare is the integrator in today’s warfighting disciplines from the tactical to the theater level. The focus of visible U.S. military power and presence is the combat–ready warship operating forward. Therefore, the success of U.S. military power hinges on surface combatants. Prioritizing #WarfightingFirst, creates a strict hierarchy of readiness goals (combat, material and personal) that ensure these many surface combatants are fit to fight. Ships like USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), who was awarded the Spokane Trophy, an annual award presented to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s surface ship with the highest level of operational readiness in areas ranging from coordinated air warfare, surface warfare and undersea warfare operations.
The U.S. Navy has the distinction and responsibility of being the world’s leading naval power – complete with the surface combatant ships most commonly associate with naval power. America’s Navy is a force as significant today as it has been since 1775. In an increasingly globalized and ever changing world, new challenges will continue to arise and threats will transform and grow more resilient. The multifarious nature of the vast expanse of sea makes the requirement for a robust naval presence all-the-more indispensable. Now, more than ever, the value of a strong and capable Surface Navy is something to be cognizant of, thankful for and necessary for our continued success.