USS Higgins
First to Fight!
USS Higgins Participates in Multi-Force Exercise
By Ens. Kara Lynn Yingling, USS Higgins Public Affairs
AT SEA - Guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) participated in a joint air and surface exercise with Destroyer Squadron 50, USS Green Bay (LPD-20), USS Whirlwind (PC-11), USS Sirocco (PC-6), USS Chinook (PC-9) and several United States air assets Mar. 24-25.

Several air platforms participated in the exercise including U.S. Navy helicopters, Maritime Reconnaissance Patrol Aircraft, U.S. Air Force fixed wing fighter aircraft, and U.S. Marine Corps fixed wing and rotary assets.

The exercise was designed to validate the effectiveness of using joint aviation assets in a maritime environment.

"The exercise was designed to overcome the challenges of working in a joint maritime environment, specifically in terms of communications, coordination, and command and control," said Lt. Hilary Griswold, the operations officer for Destroyer Squadron 50. "By refining our ability to work jointly and maximize the potential of our combined capabilities, we expand the nation's ability to counter threats and ensure maritime security."

"The exercise was designed to maximize interoperability between the participating forces by taking them through a variety of likely maritime scenarios," said Cmdr. Andrew Carlson, the commanding officer for Higgins. "The exercise simulated the threats we face as a navy operating in this area and how best we can prepare for those situations."

To further encourage a better understanding of how each surface platform executes their mission, both Green Bay and Higgins arranged a junior officer transfer to occur. Several ensigns swapped ships for a day to experience what surface warfare means to the different platforms.

"I'm interested in seeing their diesel plant and how it compares to our gas turbine plant," said Ens. John Haddad, the main propulsion officer onboard Higgins. "I think having a better understanding of how their ship operates will allow me to have an appreciation for the work they do as an amphibious platform."

Both ship visits included tours of mission essential areas to bolster the knowledge of the young leaders.

"Our mission was to build our partnerships and improve our interoperability while working to smooth communications between forces," said Carlson. "We all share the same maritime security concerns, and we will all work together to promote greater security, stability, and trust in the region."

USS Higgins departed San Diego on Jan. 14 for a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, where she now supports the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Strike Group promoting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions.

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