I have seen what our cruisers and destroyers (CRUDES) are capable of, and know them to be a vital contributor to our Carrier Strike Groups. Most folks who have spent any amount of time on a CRUDES know they are invaluable to our Navy.
Without the cruiser performing air defense, the high value unit (HVU) – often a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier bringing the pre-dominance of the power projection to the strike group – would not be able to send pilots downrange to perform their jobs of conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), strike missions, or any combination thereof. The HVU’s ability to maneuver safely throughout the world’s waters while routinely launching and recovering aircraft relies solely on the multi-mission, multi-weapon capabilities our CRUDES deliver and train toward on a daily basis.
Surrounding a Carrier or other HVU with the “ring of steel,” comprised of one cruiser and two or more destroyers, not only allows the HVU to safely execute her primary mission, it also provides offensive and defensive capabilities galore for the entire Strike Group. Without the cruiser and destroyers:
There would be no alerts from active or passive sound navigation and ranging (SONAR) when a submarine is within the area of operations, potentially threatening the ships in the strike group and carrier strike operations;
There would be no shipborne surface or air-engagement capabilities in the event that lethal weapons must be employed in order to protect our nation and our assets;
There would be no AN/SPY-1/3 radars to detect air contacts well ahead of the force during transits or routine operations;
There would be no 5” guns standing at the ready for a worst-case scenario involving small craft swarming the HVU.
One could continue on with a mile-long list; suffice it to say that the CRUDES provide a robust mission set necessary for a strike group to conduct operations in support of America’s national interests. Each of these ships has the ability to engage roles as other Warfare Commanders when necessary, bearing a tremendous responsibility and displaying the versatility and flexibility of the CRUDES complement.