PHILIPPINE SEA - Forward deployed guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS McCampbell (DDG 85) completed the bilateral exercise Pacific Eagle with vessels from the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) Oct. 15.
Fitzgerald and McCampbell departed Guam’s Apra Harbor Oct. 13 with the Russian ships, Varyag, a Slava class guided missile cruiser and Irkut, an oiler.
The goal of Pacific Eagle was to improve the U. S. Navy and RFN maritime relationship, and enhance the interoperability between the two forces. According to Fitzgearld’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Brian Mutty, it did just that.
“We got a chance to show them exactly how we operate and we got to see how they operate,” said Mutty. “We learned that personally and professionally we are very similar.”
During the three day exercise, all four vessels practiced division tactics, gunnery and maneuvering exercise, replenishment at-sea training, visit board search and seizure (VBSS), flag hoist drills, and flashing light drills.
Mutty said that the training evolutions completed together will benefit both navies at sea when conducting anti-terrorism and counter-piracy operations.
“Just talking to the Russian Group Ship Commodore Sergey Jzuga, he is going to be conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden next year, and we practiced VBSS yesterday,” said Mutty. “The training will benefit his crew as well ours when we operate together in the future.”
As part of Pacific Eagle the two navies exchanged liaison officers. Capt. Lt. Dmitry Martvschenko and First Lt. Roman Glushakov were aboard Fitzgerald for three days touring the ship, eating with the crew and enjoying the differences and similarities between the two navies.
“Their first impression was that everything was very organized,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Aleksey Yatskovskiy, translating for the two men. “Everything works like a precision clock.” Martvschenko and Glushakov said that they were very impressed with how welcoming and personable everyone was while they were on board.
“They’re saying our people are very friendly and very courteous and just as helpful as they can be,” said Yatskovskiy. “Their ship, since they have a lot of conscripted Sailors, is a lot more rigid and run like a more traditional Navy.”
On the final day of the exercise, Mutty and the commanding officer of McCampbell, Cmdr. Steven DeMoss, had lunch with Jzuga and Irkut’s commanding officer, Capt. Kruch Vacheslav aboard McCampbell. Mutty said during lunch, the topics of discussion ranged from the professionalism and hospitality that both navies received while training together, to more personal topics such as family.
“I think we see that we are all Sailors with the same goals, whether in the Russian Navy, U.S. Navy or any other Navy.” said Mutty. “Many times during the discussion, we found out that we are more alike than we used to think. We all have the same wants and desires not only for our families but, our countries as well.” Fitzgerald and McCampbell are assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and forward deployed to Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.