USS LASSEN, At Sea -- The acrid smell of smoke and gunpowder lingers in the air. Overhead, a propeller plane circles in slow arcs. The air is filled with the wash of rotor blades as helicopters cruise past ships. The helicopter crew looks down and sees rows of warships, advancing across the blue Pacific waters. Sailors move quickly on deck, hurrying to accomplish their next task.
It may sound like a scene from a movie, but it's not. This is a daily routine aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) during exercise Multi-Sail 2014, March 21-25.
Multi-Sail is an annual training event where ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and others participate in anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, and anti-submarine warfare exercises.
"With this year it's focused in Guam, it's a chance for our DESRON 15 ships to come together with our aviation brethren and with USS Shiloh to operate in a multi-warfare setting," said Capt. Paul Lyons, DESRON 15 commodore.
Over the course of the four-day exercise, Lassen fired its 5-inch gun system, 25mm and .50 caliber guns, close-in weapons system, chaff system and several torpedoes. MH-60R Seahawk helicopters from the "Warlords" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 51) embarked on Lassen conducted flight operations as part of the exercises.
For members of the crew, known as the "Sea Devils," it was a chance to finally see all of the systems that they maintain every day function in their full capacity.
"You get to see the fruits of your labor," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class Victoria Conroy. "It's not until you actually utilize the things that you upkeep and maintain that you get to see just how much all the crew's hard work pays off."
The highlight for most, though, was the Standard Missile 2 surface-to-air missile launch. Four ships launched in formation, and many "Sea Devils" were on deck or in the pilothouse to watch the event.
"It was amazing seeing how each ship took turns shooting," said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Jan Jazon Delacruz. "It was exciting, because I got to see the whole process from beginning to end. I am really proud of Lassen hitting the target."
Four ships shooting in formation is exactly the kind of complex teamwork demonstrating the purpose of Multi-Sail 2014.
"We test our people, their knowledge of our tactics, techniques and procedures, really to test our teamwork," said Lyons. "Rarely do we get an opportunity like this where we test our ships in a combined unit level training scenario where we can test our ships in a multi-ship, multi-warfare environment."
"It's an all day, every day thing," said Conroy. "Having successful evolutions re-instills the importance of what we do on a daily basis. From sweeping the passageways, performing maintenance, troubleshooting our systems, it all builds to exercises like this. This is what we do as a forward-deployed ship in 7th Fleet."
Lassen is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and is currently on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations conducting Multi-Sail 2014 in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.