Sailors assigned to Surface Warfare Detachment Four of littoral combat ship Crew 102 prepare to board a naval training vessel as part of visit, board, search and seizure event during IDCERTEX. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Katarzyna Kobiljak)

SAN DIEGO - Five U.S. Navy ships concluded a two-week independent deployer certification exercise (IDCERTEX) off the coast of Southern California and Hawaii Feb. 20.

The exercise provided a multi-ship environment to train and certify independent deployers in surface warfare, air defense, maritime interception operations, command and control/information warfare, command, control, computers and combat systems intelligence and mine warfare.

The exercise led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet (C3F) and executed by Commander, Carrier Strike Group Fifteen (CSG 15), included the guided-missile cruisers USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), USS Chosin (CG 65), guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88), USS Chafee (DDG 90), littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Fort Worth's (LCS 3) Crew 102.

IDCERTEX served as CSG 15's final opportunity to evaluate and certify Preble, Chafee and Fort Worth Crew 102, embarked aboard Freedom, across multiple warfare areas prior to regularly scheduled deployments.

According to Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific (MIDPAC), IDCERTEX was a success for the ships involved that demonstrated their readiness to deploy and operate in an integrated, multi-ship environment. Crew 102's certification will enable them to turn over with Crew 103, who departed San Diego for Singapore Feb. 8 to relieve Crew 104.

"IDCERTEX was successful thanks to outstanding work and commitment by all participants," said Williams.

Chafee, Chosin, Lake Champlain and Preble conducted their training off the coast of Hawaii while Freedom participated off the coast of Southern California.

"Having a split location is challenging no matter what you're doing, and this is no different, yet this did not hinder our ability to train and assess them and get them fully certified," said Capt. Patrick Keyes, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, assistant chief of staff for plans, policy, training and readiness. "In the end, Chafee, Preble and Crew 102 were able to get fully certified, and now they are ready to execute all mission areas while deployed in the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf."

Crew 102 was certified in shipboard firefighting, man-overboard drills, visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), and other ship specific training. The integrated phase consists of flight operations, submarine tracking, strait transit formations, replenishment-at-sea between multiple ships and aircraft, and other required mission evolutions.

"The fact that our crew has progressed from a shore-based training environment directly to the successful accomplishment of an advanced level independent deployer certification exercise in only three weeks is an amazing validation of the training concept for LCS rotational crews," said Cmdr. Michael Jarrett, commanding officer of LCS Crew 102. "The crew's ability to perform at a fast pace and demonstrate proficiency suitable for deployment is a testament to the enthusiasm and work ethic of our Sailors and their teammates from the Surface Warfare Detachment Four and Detachment three from the "Magicians" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35."

Supporting staffs included Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, DESRON 31, Marine Aircraft Group 24, Hawaii Air National Guard and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.

"This exercise advances our readiness to operate on, above and below the seas as one team," said Williams. "Certification demonstrates that our ships are focused, capable and ready to deploy forward."

Leading the naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line, U.S. 3rd Fleet provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.