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Hawaii Welcomes San Diego Ships for Koa Kai

30 March 2012

From Commander Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Public Affairs

USS Benfold and USS Vandergrift joined four Hawaii-based ships March 30 to kick off exercise Koa Kai.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The San Diego-based ships USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Vandergrift (FFG 48) joined four Hawaii-based ships in exercise Koa Kai 12-2 beginning March 30, to participate in the semi-annual exercise in and around Hawaiian waters.

This is the first time San Diego-based ships are participating in Koa Kai. Units participating in Koa Kai will conduct integrated flight operations, anti-surface and anti-submarine training, and dynamic ship maneuvers.

"Koa Kai provides an opportunity to exercise multiple warfare disciplines to ensure our ships are ready to deploy at a moment's notice," said Capt. Dave Welch, commander of Destroyer Squadron 31 (CDS 31). "Koa Kai is integrated, challenging, state-of-the-art training here in the Middle Pacific that helps us achieve full deployment readiness."

"We're extremely pleased that the San Diego-based ships USS Benfold and USS Vandergrift have joined us for this version of Koa Kai. Their participation will add great value and depth to the exercise," he added.

Benfold and Vandergrift join the Hawaii-based guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73); guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60); and the guided-missile frigates USS Crommelin (FFG 37) and USS Reuben James (FFG 57) and underway replenishment ship USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187). The U.S. surface ships are joined by assets from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Helicopter Squadron Light 37, Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, and the Royal Canadian Air Force 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron.

Koa Kai 12-2 is a maritime exercise to prepare independent deployers in multiple warfare areas, while also providing training in a multi-ship environment.

Hawaii-based surface combatants regularly deploy to the Asia Pacific region and often train with international partners while on deployment. Joint, interagency and international relationships strengthen U.S. Third Fleet's ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.

Koa Kai demonstrates the Pacific Fleet commitment to forward readiness, and prepares Middle Pacific ships to meet current and future challenges.

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