Destroyer Squadron Seven
As Sea Combat Commander, COMDESRON SEVEN is responsible for Surface Warfare (SUW), Undersea Warfare (USW), Screen Coordinator (SC), Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Force Protection (FP), Mine Warfare (MIW), Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and Submarine Operations Controlling Authority (SOCA) duties.
A Destroyer Squadron Commander serves as the administrative commander or Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC) of the ships assigned to the squadron. In addition to duties as ISIC for the five ships assigned to the squadron, the staff has also been busy planning and training for our upcoming deployment as part of the Constellation Battlegroup (CBG). During the deployment the Commodore serves as Sea Combat Commander (SCC). SCC duties encompass Surface Warfare Commander (SUWC), Under-Sea Warfare Commander (USWC), Maritime Inspection Commander (MIC) [U.N. Sanctions Enforcement], LAMPS Element Coordinator (LEC) ["LAMPS" are helos, specifically Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Muli-Purpsose System helos carried by the surface combatants], Defensive Mine Warfare (MIW-D), Force Protection Coordinator (FPC), Explosive Ordance Disposal Coordinator (EODC) and Submarine Operational Controlling Authority (SOCA) [responsible for coordinating employment of attack submarines assigned to the Battlegroup].
Embarked onboard the CONSTELLATION, COMDESRON SEVEN serves as the Sea Combat Commander for the CONSTELLATION BATTLE GROUP. As Sea Combat Commander, the DESRON is responsible to the Battle Group Commander for the overall planning and execution of maritime operations including Surface and Subsurface Warfare; Maritime Interdiction Operations; Mine Warfare; Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Force Protection. The DESRON SEVEN team is led by Captain Richard Arnold, who reported as COMDESRON SEVEN in February of 1999, just prior to the commencement of CONSTELLATION Battle Group's underway workup cycle.
Destroyer Squadron SEVEN was first established in September 1920 as a reserve squadron of 15 ships homeported at Charleston, South Carolina. The Squadron was deactivated from July 1922 until April 1939 when it was reorganized at San Diego, California. In December 1940, the squadron was reformed at Newport, Rhode Island and until the end of the European War was actively engaged in escort duties throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean Theaters. In May 1945, the squadron was reformed at San Diego, California and operated with Pacific Fleet for the remainder of World War II.
In November 1945, the squadron was deactivated and in January 1946, DESRON SIXTY was redesignated DESRON SEVEN. Ships of the squadron participated in the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll and saw extended action during the Korean War, including the invasion of Inchon. During the Vietnam conflict, the squadron again saw action on the Market Time patrol and engaged in the bombardment of North Vietnam.
In January and February 1979, the squadron participated in the evacuation of Americans from Iran. During Operation Desert Storm, COMDESRON SEVEN saw extensive combat action. As the North Arabian Gulf Local Anti-Surface Warfare Commander (LASUWC) COMDESRON SEVEN directed multi-national forces in offensive operations which eliminated the Iraqi Navy.
The 1999 deployment marked the fourth time that COMDESRON SEVEN returned to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, following previous deployments in 1992, 1994 and 1997. Through January and early February, the staff focused on key pre-deployment training exercises; including the Sea Combat Commanders Warfare Team Trainer (SCC WTT), VBSS in San Diego Bay and the CONSTELLATION Battlegroup Commanders Team Trainer (BGCTT). The SCC WTT, conducted at FCTCPAC, practiced tactical procedures and tested pre-planned responses in a scenario driven setting, using satellite and T-1 lines to allow participation by Battle Groups units based in Hawaii and Washington. VBSS in San Diego Bay focused on bringing Battlegroup units up to date on current Fifth Fleet operations, in particular, Maritime Interception Operations. This one-week event combined briefings from Deputy Commander USNAVCENT and recently returning deployers, with services from tugboats to practice boarding techniques in a non-threat environment. The BGCTT, held at Tactical Training Group Pacific (TTGP), practiced Battlegroup wide procedures and fostered interaction among Warfare Commanders using table top exercises and a comprehensive Enhanced Naval Warfare Gaming System (ENWGS) scenario.
Having completed this intense period of in port training, the staff embarked USS CONSTELLATION for COMPTUEX 99-1. For three weeks, culminating in the Final Battle Problem, CONSTELLATION Battlegroup units conducted integrated underway training in order to test tactical procedures in an operational setting. COMPTUEX also included several days of intense testing in preparation for the new millennium, ensuring that CONSTELLATION Battlegroup would be unaffected by the "Y2K bug".
Returning to San Diego in mid-March 1999, the staff focused on applying the lessons learned from COMPTUEX in preparation for the Battle Group's next underway exercise, FLEETEX, planned for early May. In the interim, the staff attended the Battlegroup/Amphibious Ready Group Integrated Trainer (BGIT/ARGIT) to improve interoperability with units of the PELELIU Amphibious Ready Group.
In April 1999, COMDESRON SEVEN conducted a turnover of Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC) responsibilities with COMDESRON TWENTY-ONE, assuming ISIC duties for USS BENFOLD while transferring ISIC duties for PRECOMUNIT HIGGINS TO COMDESRON TWENTY-ONE. The month of May kicked off with an in port three day Force Protection Exercise, designed to test each ship's ability to respond to increasing Threat Conditions (THREATCON) and carry out required force protection measures. This scenario-driven exercise led to the sortie of all Battlegroup units on May 6th for FLEETEX, an eleven-day Fleet Exercise meant to further test Battlegroup tactics. While operating off the Southern California coast on 14 May 1999, units of the CONSTELLATION Battlegroup and PELELIU Amphibious Ready Group quickly responded during search and rescue efforts for a jet skier lost near Catalina Island. The resulting search, involving six surface units and seven aircraft safely located the jet skier the next morning.
Following FLEETEX and a one-month pre-deployment standown, the staff departed for its Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment on 18 June 1999. Enroute to the Seventh Fleet Area of Responsibility, CONSTELLATION Battlegroup conducted both an Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise (ASWEX) and the first ever enroute Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) in the Hawaiian operating areas. The ASWEX placed Battle Group units against a fictional out of area deployed nuclear submarine. The tactics used during this event would later be put to use against a real-world out of area deployed submarine which approached the West coast of North America in October. JTFEX served as the "graduation exercise", proving that the Battlegroup was ready to deploy.
From Hawaii, the Battlegroup crossed the Pacific and made its first port visit in Pusan, South Korea. Once underway, the Battlegroup remained in the East China Sea and Sea of Japan through the end of July, conducting multi-national exercises with both the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). During this time, the staff visited Yokosuka, Japan as well.
After completing additional port visits in Singapore and Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, the CONSTELLATION Battlegroup entered the Arabian Gulf in late August 1999. COMDESRON SEVEN assumed duties as the Commander, Fifth Fleet Sea Combat Commander. As such, the staff assumed tactical control of all surface warships, maritime patrol aircraft, and tactical helicopters involved in enforcing UN sanctions on Iraq including forces of the British and New Zealand Navies. While on station in the Arabian Gulf, COMDESRON SEVEN redefined the way Maritime Interception Operations are conducted. COMDESRON SEVEN had the privilege of working closely with units of the PELELIU ARG, Naval Special Warfare forces, and the Kuwaiti Navy and Coast Guard in response to increased Iraqi oil smuggling. In addition, the Battlegroup developed new methods for conducting MIO, most notably the 'Mother Ship Concept'. This procedure permitted boarding teams from several ships to operate from one centrally located unit while the remaining units continued their assigned daily patrols. The result of this close cooperation coupled with innovative new tactics during "intensified" operations is impressive: 524 queries of merchant ships, 140 boardings, and 14 diversions due to prohibited cargo. Additionally, the staff enjoyed port visits to Bahrain and Jebel Ali, UAE.
Departing the Arabian Gulf, the staff and CONSTELLATION enjoyed visits to both Perth and Sydney Australia. CONSTELLATION's final stop before returning home was Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the ship, embarked staffs and aviation squadrons welcomed over 1,000 family members for a five day "Tiger Cruise" to San Diego.USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) returned to San Diego on 17 December 1999 after a very successful six month deployment. Shortly after returning to San Diego, the CONSTELLATION Battlegroup was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for its effort in rescuing a lost jet skier off Catalina Island during FLTEX 99.
On Feb. 11, 2003, destroyer squadron (DesRon) 7, in partnership with a multinational maritime interception force (MIF) of partners from around the globe, awaited reports from Her Majesty's Australian Ship (HMAS) Cardiff after weeks of intelligence collection and planning in order to verify that a three-ship take down in progress by the Royal Marines and the crew of Cardiff was a success. Boarding teams involved were able to take control of three steel-hull ships, each boasting a 5,000 to 6,000 dry weight ton (DWT) capacity of illegal oil. The three tankers accounted for approximately one-third of the estimated fleet of consolidation tankers that specialize in the illegal marketing of Iraqi oil; pursuit of the remainder of the smuggling fleet is in progress.
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