USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) steams in formation with ships of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and America Amphibious Ready Group to close exercise Valiant Shield, Sept. 25. (U.S. Navy/MCSA Oswald Felix Jr.)

SOUTH CHINA SEA - Through dynamic changes in 2020, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet continues to operate at sea, enabling their two forward-deployed destroyer squadrons (DESRON) to practice advance tactics and procedures in surface and anti-submarine warfare.

DESRON 7 staff embarked USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to train alongside the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON, DESRON 15, during exercise Valiant Shield 2020.

With the goal of practicing operations in a tactical environment, DESRON 7 staff immersed with DESRON 15 watchstanders for a portion of Ronald Reagan’s patrol and during exercise Valiant Shield. Staff exchanges included discussion on watchstanding principles, air operations and planning, anti-submarine warfare, and sea combat commander (SCC) best practices.

“As one of two forward deployed DESRONs in the Indo-Pacific, DESRON 7 looks for all opportunities to develop and hone our warfighting skills,” said Capt. Tom Ogden, deputy commodore, DESRON 7, and embark team lead. “DESRON 15 has set the tactical standard for years so we wanted to work closely with them. Sitting next to DESRON 15 in high-level live training while underway as they executed sea combat commander provided a second to none training opportunity to refine our operational skills; a critically important task as we operate in the dynamic U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.”

Capt. Steven DeMoss, commodore, DESRON 15, emphasized the importance of DESRON-to-DESRON relationships and training to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Destroyer Squadrons 15 and 7 set the boundaries that allow all nations to operate freely across the Indo-Pacific,” said DeMoss. “We are the professional mariners and warfighters that ensure those that threaten our freedom and access to the seas know we patrol the waters between the Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea in accordance with international law.”

The SCC training comes in parallel with DESRON 7 staff’s participation in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series, marking the eighth consecutive year DESRON 7 has been the lead planners for these bilateral exercises. To continue advancing tactical prowess, the staff is scheduled to participate in multiple high-end exercises and training opportunities throughout the region.

DESRON 7 joined U.S. 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces in late 2012, operating primarily throughout Southeast Asia building partnerships through training exercises and military to military engagements. In addition to participation in regional exercises, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore.

DESRON 15 is the Navy’s largest forward-deployed destroyer squadron and is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for six Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers in the region, and serves in support of security and stability in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. As the U.S. Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.