The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) launches a RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). (U.S. Navy screen shot by MC3 Adam Butler)

PACIFIC OCEAN - Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) conducted a successful Rolling Airframe Missile (SeaRAM) launch during a live-fire exercise, April 8.

Warships and their watch teams conduct live-fire exercises, like the SeaRAM launch, in preparation for contributing to the high-end fight and maintaining warfighting readiness within the surface fleet.

The SeaRAM is designed to offer improved ship self-defense and extended keep-out range capabilities in hostile combat environments. It allows naval vessels to effectively engage in high-performance, supersonic and subsonic threats including sea-skimming, anti-ship missiles, high-speed incoming vessels, rotary and fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and other surface targets.

"I am incredibly proud of the Charleston Gold crew and the efforts that have led to this successful SeaRAM launch," said Cmdr. Joseph Burgon, commanding officer of Charleston‘s Gold Crew. "Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) involvement, tactical planning and support from Mine Division TWELVE were key to today’s successful live-fire exercise."

Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) is Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet‘s executive agent for live-fire exercises, which are planned and executed with guidance from SMWDC‘s WTIs. Live-fire exercises are scenario-driven events completed by watch teams exercising critical thinking and the resiliency to defeat our adversaries.

"SMWDC is out here because our mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of the Surface Force across all domains," said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Boston, an integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) WTI. "The results from firing exercises like this one are used to test and validate tactics, assess system performance and identify future training requirements – all geared to increase the lethality of the Surface Force."

WTIs provided tactical training to the participating LCS crews at the Center for Surface Combat Systems LCS Training Facility (LTF). The LTF, located aboard Naval Base San Diego, has revolutionary training systems to train, qualify and certify LCS combat crews with multiple LCS-2 high-fidelity integrated simulators and virtual reality labs to provide an operational equivalent of the systems onboard LCS combatants. It also houses full-scale Mission Bay Trainers for the LCS-2 ship variant. These modern training systems, funded by Director, Surface Warfare‘s (OPNAV N96) program of record, Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment-LCS (STAVE-LCS), are used along with the integrated bridge and combat simulators to provide LCS Sailors with the most realistic training possible while off-hull.

As part of planning and preparations for live-fire events, well-established safety precautions are implemented to ensure designated live-fire ranges are cleared as well as sending out local notices to mariners, and the ship‘s crew making bridge-to-bridge calls prior to, during, and following the exercise.

The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) launches a RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). (U.S. Navy video by MC3 Adam Butler)

LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal, and adaptable ship designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine, and surface warfare missions. The Independence-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future missions, from deep water to the littorals.

Headquartered in San Diego, SMWDC has four Divisions in California and Virginia focused on IAMD, amphibious warfare, anti-submarine warfare/surface warfare, and mine warfare.