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PACIFIC OCEAN - The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participated in a show of force transit training exercise with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 off the coast of Southern California, March 31.
CSG 11 conducted the exercise as part of Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) to prepare for moving through narrow passageways of water during its upcoming 2017 deployment.
According to Lt. Ryan Benko, a native of Bremerton, Washington, and the Destroyer Squadron Nine (DESRON 9) lead planner, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and USS Kidd (DDG 100), and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), all ships from DESRON 9, participated in the exercise with Nimitz. Helicopters were also provided from the "Wolf Pack" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 and the "Eightballers" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 from Carrier Air Wing 11.
The aim of the exercise is to help all participating Sailors from CSG 11 understand what the environment will be like as they move through straits in foreign territories.
Nimitz is a high value asset within the strike group. When the strike group transits a strait as a whole, it is in a much higher protective posture than normal. The smaller ships in the strike group act as the first level of engagement if anything out of the ordinary were to happen. The helicopters are there to be the eye in the sky and provide support.
"We are worried about the carrier, but everyone plays their part," said Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Robert Kingston, a native of Geneva, Ohio, and the leading chief petty officer of IFX department. "Between the helicopters, the smaller ships, and the carrier there are a lot of moving pieces, and in a real strait transit there will be even more entities to incorporate."
Kingston explained that the purpose of this training exercise is to make sure that everyone understands their roles. In a real scenario the point is to document and get the first truth to the public in order to fight propaganda and stop misinformation and collect data that can be used and analyzed.
This exercise requires almost every department aboard to play a part including navigation, deck, operations, weapons, combat systems, IFX and media. They all worked together to collect information and keep a strong level of protection as the training transit occurred.
"It was pretty successful," said Kingston. "There are areas we need to work on, but every carrier coming out of the yards with a compressed training cycle is going to face some problems. I am happy with where we are at. Even with a small amount of training and a green crew, we are doing well."
Nimitz is currently underway performing COMPTUEX with the rest of CSG 11 in preparation for a 2017 deployment. COMPTUEX tests the mission readiness of the strike group's assets through simulated real-world scenarios, and their ability to work together as a cohesive unit to complete the mission.