SOUTH CHINA SEA — Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16) joined Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (VINCSG) during presence operations in the South China Sea.
The integration marks the first time an LCS has operated as part of a carrier strike group in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
Under the tactical control of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1, Tulsa provided direct support to USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
“Although LCS have previously trained with aircraft carrier strike groups, the LCS has less frequently sailed alongside aircraft carriers in the operational environment,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander, VINCSG. “This collaboration in the 7th Fleet demonstrates how effectively an LCS can meet dynamic force employment in the region and how quickly and seamlessly a carrier strike group can integrate an LCS into our operations. This inherent mobility of our maritime forces to conduct dynamic and unpredictable operations in the region reinforces the message that our U.S. forces will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
Outfitted with the long-range, precision strike Naval Strike Missile (NSM), mine countermeasure capabilities, high speed and a shallow draft, Tulsa can move quickly without being tied to a specific area or defensive tasking, providing a unique tactical flexibility to the carrier strike group.
“What we saw during operations with Tulsa is that the speed and maneuverability of the LCS, along with the extended range their Naval Strike Missiles affords, enables us to forge new ways to operate as a carrier strike group in the region,” said Capt. Gilbert Clark, commander, DESRON 1. “We validated technologies and explored new ways to operate with the LCS - looking at techniques and procedures to further assure our ability to effectively fight, win, and deter potential adversaries, to include integrating and increasing our maritime lethality when conducting distributed maritime operations with LCS.”
Tulsa provided surface and subsurface protection for the aircraft carrier and integrated with other VINCSG ships and aircraft in conducting simulated long range maritime strikes utilizing NSM. Additionally, the embarked MH-60S helicopter provided support to establish and maintain the recognized maritime picture, marking the first time Tulsa used non-organic air assets to find, fix and track long range surface contacts.
“Our Navy is a learning organization, always looking at ways to implement, employ, innovate and integrate to advance the art and science of naval warfare,” said Capt. P. Scott Miller, commanding officer of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). “During operations with Tulsa we continued building critical advantages over our competitors.”
Throughout their rotational deployment, Tulsa has integrated in a variety of operations: multilaterally with Southeast Asian partners in the 20th iteration of Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT); in a Surface Action Group (SAG) with USS Kidd (DDG 100) and USS Benfold (DDG 65), and a detachment from Commander, Task Group (CTG) 75.1/Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5; and across the joint force with Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF).
Cmdr. Brandon Cornes, commanding officer, Tulsa Blue Crew, further highlighted the ship’s versatility and the ease of integration with the carrier strike group.
“Tulsa provided direct support to VINCSG, building on previous expeditionary and littoral operations during our rotational deployment in the region,” said Cornes. “Our flexibility to integrate with a wide range of platforms allows us to support the fleet commander at any opportunity.”
Under Destroyer Squadron 7 and supporting Commander, Task Force (CTF) 76/Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, Tulsa is on a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations for security and stability in the region, and to work alongside allied and partner navies to provide maritime security and stability, key pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
VINCSG is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, providing a combat-ready force to protect and defend the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its regional allies and partners. Collectively, the VINCSG consists of more than 7,000 Sailors, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe.
Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.