Sailors conduct live fire exercises aboard USS Port Royal (CG 73) as USS Coronado (LCS 4) transits behind during IDCERTEX. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Christopher A. Veloicaza)

PACIFIC OCEAN - Guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) and littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) Crew 204 successfully completed an independent deployer certification exercise (IDCERTEX) along the coast of Southern California, April 10.

IDCERTEX is a schedule of events and scenario driven exercise designed to provide realistic, integrated training to assess independently deploying units while exercising advanced level mission skills.

"IDCERTEX is designed to make sure our crew is prepared for every possible mission we're called on during deployment," said Lt. Cmdr. David Stanford, Port Royal's operations officer. "We're dealing with other ships and practicing many of the same missions that we'll be performing in 5th and 7th Fleet."

The exercise, led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet and executed by Commander, Carrier Strike Group 15, included Port Royal, Coronado, guided-missile destroyer USS Chosin (CG 65), littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) Crew 111, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadrons 35 and 37, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23.

"This IDCERTEX was significant because it was the first deployment certification event for Coronado and the first for an LCS-2 variant," said Capt. Warren R. Buller, commodore of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 1. "We have certified a number of rotating crews in the LCS-1 variant to support earlier deployments of Freedom and USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) but this IDCERTEX was our first opportunity to showcase the capabilities of the LCS-2 variant and to prepare Coronado for her maiden deployment."

IDCERTEX began with a series of missions unique to maritime security operations that require the use of the visit, board, search and seizure teams, embarked aviation detachment, as well as other ship specific operations. The integrated phase involves training and coordination between multiple ships and aircraft and consists of flight operations, strait transit formations, replenishment-at-sea, and other required mission evolutions.

"We've been cooperating with other ships during this exercise to a fair degree," said Stanford. "This is actually the first IDCERTEX between LCSs and a cruiser, and it's definitely presented a challenge in trying to accommodate to each others capabilities but has also exposed us to the right resources to best accomplish the mission."

IDCERTEX served as CSG 15's final opportunity to evaluate and certify Port Royal and LCS Crew 204 Sailors across multiple warfare areas prior to their regularly scheduled deployments this summer.

USS Port Royal (CG 73) fires its MK-45 5-inch lightweight gun during IDCERTEX. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Christopher A. Veloicaza)