By Capt. Derek Lavan
Commander, Destroyer Squadron 28
Over the past three weeks, the U.S. Navy and four partner nations operated off the east coast of North America to conduct maritime exercise Cutlass Fury 2016—an anti-submarine warfare centric exercise—the largest Canadian led event of its kind conducted on this side of the Atlantic in 20 years.
U.S. forces included guided missile destroyers USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); dry cargo ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5); the staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28; and elements of Carrier Strike Group 8, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, Patrol Squadron 26 (VP 26), Helicopter Sea Control Squadron 28 (HSC 28) and Helicopter Strike Maritime Squadron 72 (HSM 72).
As an international team of 3,000 personnel, 11 ships, 25 aircraft and three submarines, we built upon long-standing partnerships with fellow NATO members Canada, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. We trained and operated together, sending a powerful and visible signal of our combined effectiveness and our ability to be bold, strong and ready.
Although our partnerships are tested, proven and mature, the 3-D battle space—on, above and below the sea—continues to evolve. For example, submarines are quieter, have smaller detectable surface areas and tactics have grown with technology, even over the 25 years I’ve served as a naval officer. Therefore we train and operate steadily across the globe to retain our naval power from the sea.
In fact, several of our Navy’s Cutlass Fury 2016 participants recently returned from overseas deployments, where they incorporated exercise training into real-world operations. Our Sailors, on submarines, ships and aircraft, have experienced first-hand the value of shared knowledge and partnership in aggressively opposing adversaries and defending common interests in foreign waters, particularly in the Middle East region.
We do the same at home. Throughout Cutlass Fury, we continued the drumbeat of readiness by conducting dozens of training events at sea–sharing, testing and validating doctrine, tactics and, most importantly, our ability to train and learn together with our partners. We created an environment that fostered communication and adaptation to become a stronger, more unified force. In an advanced training environment at sea, we successfully added to a reservoir of experience and knowledge.
As our forces return ashore for the final stage of the Cutlass Fury exercise, we will formalize and distribute our lessons learned across services and nations to strengthen our abilities in future operations at sea to deter aggression and enable peaceful resolution of crises.
Editor’s note: Capt. Lavan commissioned as a surface warfare officer in 1991 and has served on numerous ships and afloat staffs to include tours as executive officer on USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58), commanding officer of USS John L. Hall (FFG 32) and reactor officer on USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).
As commander of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28, Capt. Lavan oversees the operations of seven east coast based destroyers, including USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66). The DESRON 28 staff, Bulkeley, Gonzalez, and HSM 72 recently completed a combat deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation from November 2015 to July 2016.