Guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam July 15 to participate in an Independent Deployer Certification (IDCERT) exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiarra Fulgham)

PEARL HARBOR - Hawaii-based ships from Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 (COMDESRON 31), as well as a ship from the British Royal Navy, started a training and certification exercise off the coast of Hawaii July 15.

While underway the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), guided-missile destroyers USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Hopper (DDG 70) and USS O'Kane (DDG 77), along with fleet replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe (T-AO 200) and the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring (D 32), are scheduled to conduct intermediate and advanced training across all warfare areas.

This Independent Deployer Certification (IDCERT) exercise was designed to ensure that USS Hopper and USS Lake Erie are certified as independent deployers as tasked by Commander, U.S. Third Fleet.

"I would say this is one of the more exciting underways that we get to do because we get to work with other ships on the waterfront instead of going by ourselves," said Lt. j.g. Michelle Romero, assigned to the Engineering Dept aboard USS O'Kane. "During certifications we are actually going to employ some of our tactical knowledge and we haven't been able to do that since deployment. It's good to get back into the rhythm of working with other ships and we get to partner up with the British ship that is here in Hawaii so they get to participate with us. We get to provide support to the other ships that are certifying and have fun with it."

The exercise allows ships from COMDESRON 31 to meet their Fleet Response Plan (FRP), which ensures the Fleet can consistently sustain a level of at least six surge-capable carrier strike groups, with two additional strike groups able to deploy within approximately 90 days of an emergency order. The presence of the British ship HMS Daring also allows an opportunity for the U.S. and British Royal Navy to conduct joint training.

"Even though we are giving up a weekend to get underway it's nice to get a glimpse of what we will have to do in the future," said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Ginger Parr. "It will make things easier for us to see what we will have to do to make it successful."

COMDESRON 31 serves as Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC) for eight ships - the largest DESRON in the United States Pacific Fleet, providing oversight for maintenance, manning and the Unit Level Training cycle. They also plan and conduct at-sea exercises to develop integrated skills for deploying ships.

Guided-missle destroyer USS Chaffe (DDG 90) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam July 15 for an IDCERT exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Johans Chavarro)