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#WARFIGHTING – Surface Warfare From the CO’s Chair

The following blogs give two perspectives, provided by the COs from USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) and USS CHANCELLORSVILLE (CG 62), and offer insight into what makes the Surface Warfare Team the fast, flexible and deployed force it is today.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) flies the battle ensign during maneuvers off the coast of Kauai as part of maritime exercise Koa Kai 12-2. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/Released)

 By Cmdr. David Oden, USS BENFOLD (DDG 65)

As I turn over command of USS Benfold (DDG 65), I reflect upon my time as part of this amazing team of warfighters and what it takes to be prepared to support the Navy‘s mission. This ship is a team. Benfold is a team of warfighters who have accomplished so much toward supporting the Navy’s mission.

There is an old Latin proverb, “Amat Victoria Curam,” which means “Victory Favors the Prepared.” That proverb resonates on Benfold where we live it every day.

Every single team member contributes to Benfold’s success:  When higher headquarters tasks Benfold; our communications, operations, weapons, and engineering teams spring into action. Watchstanders lean forward to answer all bells. On the Bridge, in the Combat Information Center, Central Control Station, and throughout the ship—all hands pull hard at the oars to ensure Benfold flawlessly executes tasking.  Quartermasters chart our course and precisely navigate Benfold toward her mission.

Intelligence team members provide the most current information to maintain clarity of all aspects of the mission and accurately define the full tactical picture.

The Fire Controlmen who perform maintenance on our potent SPY Radar System, keep accurate battlespace awareness with the help of logistics and operations.  AEGIS technicians keep Benfold razor sharp and ensure our Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capabilities are fully exploited to defend the homeland and our interests elsewhere.

Serving as the heartbeat of our ship is her mighty crew, sustained by Culinary Specialists hard at work in the galley cooking four meals a day, every day.

Gunners Mates keep our weapons clear, whether it be the main battery or small arms we use protecting our force.

Always at the ready, our Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team checks their gear, as they prepare to provide assistance to mariners in distress while assuring all sailors are free to operate on the seas.

In the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, there is no room for complacency; only the forward leaning of every team member, from Combat Systems, Engineering, Operations, Supply and Administration, will put hot metal, on target when directed.

Team Benfold stands prepared, will accomplish the mission, will finish strong, and will keep the faith as she continues sailing “Onward with Valor.”



The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) is underway in the Arabian Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexander Tidd/Released)


By Capt. Andrew Hesser, USS CHANCELLORSVILLE (CG 62)

Supporting the Navy‘s warfighting mission requires much more than simply sailing the ship and honing our warfighting skills. It includes a ruthless, ever-present focus on maintenance and repair to ensure a ship’s material readiness. This emphasis should not start and end during the maintenance cycle; the shipyard is a good time to refocus on this area of our job.

USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) is currently in the midst of a lengthy Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA) to install the Advanced Capabilities Baseline (ACB-12). Chancellorsville is the lead ACB-12 ship and, as such, will set the standard for the entire Aegis Fleet to follow. ACB-12 upgrades include the SM-6 missile, Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air, and the AN-SQQ-89-A(V)15 ASW suite. The installation of these systems and others, supports the Navy’s broader warfighting mission by delivering to the fleet the high-end capability we need to fight and win.

Spending months in a shipyard poses its own unique leadership challenges. Here we emphasize the importance of improving our performance on the three pillars of material readiness: Preventative Maintenance System (PMS) accomplishment, Current Ship’s Maintenance Project (CSMP) management, and the Zone Inspection/Division in the Spotlight (ZI/DITS) program. Supported by strong deckplate leadership, we’ll be able to deliver a ship that is materially ready to sail into harm’s way.

My Maintenance Material Management Coordinator (3MC) reviews all the jobs that need to be done, and all the maintenance that needs to be scheduled and completed.  With help from the work center supervisors, my 3MC makes sure spot-checks are ready for me to personally conduct, so that I can get to the ground truth on how we’re doing.


Sailors assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) heave lines to connect a fuel probe during a refueling at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dylan McCord/Released)


All this work has an important purpose:  to adhere to a “broken windows” philosophy when it comes to material readiness. This philosophy has its roots in urban policing—if you want to reduce major crime in an urban area, start by ensuring broken windows are repaired, graffiti is cleaned up, etc. Applying that to the shipboard environment, if you want to see major improvements in your ship’s material condition, ensure every little item works to design specification. I am insistent that a space’s lighting works, that leaks are addressed immediately, and that all watertight doors, hatches and scuttles work perfectly. Now is the time to move forward and “get ‘er done.”

Send as many folks as you can to the 3M university; demand weekly reviews of the CSMP, have a robust and thorough Zoner/DITS program. Insist that everything works to design specifications. It may not be glamorous, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly your spaces— and consequently the ship’s warfighting ability—improve.

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