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News | Jan. 16, 2020

Sea Control Beyond the Strike Group: USS Detroit and USS Gridley Exercise Together

By U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command / U.S. 4th Fleet

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Jan. 4, 2020) – The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7) and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) completed division tactics (DIVTACS) and gunnery exercises while operating in the U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility, Jan. 4.
Conducting DIVTACS enables junior ship handlers to experience operating in close proximity to other vessels.

“Executing DIVTACS requires clear and constant communications between the bridge teams of both ships,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jordan Bradford, Detroit operations officer. “We have to understand what the other ship is doing and what we can do to make sure each movement is conducted in a safe and smart fashion.”

According to Bradford, the bridge and combat information centers (CIC) of each ship send and receive coded signals that direct the coordinated movements of each vessel.

“DIVTACS are essential to fleet movement,” said Lt. Angelia O’Toole, Detroit ship’s navigator. “Layered defense is a critical warfighting capability that we must continue to hone.”

O’Toole said that having knowledge of the general scheme of maneuver beforehand provides a foundation that allows the bridge team to be confident in what is going to happen and gives a reference point from which to flex as new needs arise.

“The junior officers involved gain a better appreciation for the handling characteristics of their own ship, while simultaneously learning how other ship classes maneuver,” said Bradford. “This level of understanding is vital when operating in strike groups or other ship formations.”

Junior officers from Detroit and Gridley were also afforded the opportunity to experience a new platform as they were cross-decked to each other’s respective ship. Cross-decking refers to the practice of a Sailor visiting another ship to gain knowledge of a different ship type. Bradford stated that allowing junior officers to experience alternate platforms provides an opportunity to expand the professional horizons of the fleet’s youngest mariners.

“Experiencing a different class of ship at sea can allow junior officers to make more informed decisions about their future career choices as well as better understand the capabilities of different Navy ships,” said Bradford. “This more knowledgeable understanding is vital to any junior officers’ pursuit of their Surface Warfare Officer qualification.”

O’Toole stated that being able to understand how a ship operates and maneuvers at close distances is an advantage to warfighting capabilities.

“Detroit performed exemplary,” said O’Toole. “Even being 300 yards from the Gridley, there was never an uncomfortable moment. It truly was an outstanding performance by both ships.”

According to Bradford, Detroit’s unique handling characteristics had to be accounted for during the execution of the training evolution.

“Our bridge team did a phenomenal job and it really highlighted the value of the training provided to LCS Sailors at our ashore facilities,” said Bradford. “Thanks to their training, our officers knew exactly what to do and executed the event perfectly.”