NNS020712-10 Constellation Slam-Dunks TSTA/FEP
Release Date: 7/12/2002 11:13:00 AM
By Journalist 2nd Class (SW) W. Mason Shewman, USS Constellation Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO, (NNS) -- The crew of the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV 64) has once again proved its superiority as a team at sea. Over the past few months, "America's Flagship" has been actively involved in an in-depth training cycle designed to test the ability of its crew to react to real-time battle scenarios.
The training period consisted of three phases: Tailored Ship's Training Availability, phases Two and Three (TSTA II and III), which are un-graded exercises, and the graded Final Evaluation Problem (FEP).
"TSTA II and III were build-up practice runs to help hone our skills for FEP," said Assistant Damage Control Officer, Lt. Daniel Kidd, an Erie, Penn., native. "All 10 repair lockers, along with the ship's Damage Control Training Team (DCTT), worked as a team using the last two general quarters drills to showcase our skills."
Sailors from the Afloat Training Group (ATG) evaluated the crew's reaction to different casualty scenarios. ATG's assessment of the crew's ability to "fight the ship" has a serious impact on the status of the ship's battle readiness - something the Navy, as well as the nation, depends on greatly.
"We had to prove that we could meet the objectives required of us," said San Diego native, Cmdr. Mike Daly, Combat Systems Training Team leader. "All of our training teams and watch stander teams were found to have exceeded all expectations of readiness. The crew exhibited great motivation and initiative, which is the central reason we were so successful throughout TSTA and FEP."
"I think ATG was impressed by our ability to train and fight any casualty thrown at us," Kidd said. "I have a lot of confidence in my guys. We have great organization and leadership from the hose teams to the locker leaders."
The battle scenarios are fed through the system and simulated on tactical displays so the watch standers can respond accordingly.
"We train and exercise tactical watch standards, techniques and procedures against simulated threats," Daly said. "The scenarios are designed to bring a sense of realism. We're not just coming up with some 'pie in the sky' scheme."
If damage has actually been inflicted upon the ship, several different areas of concern are immediately addressed: the physical integrity of Constellation, the status of communications, and its ability to strike and defend. Each of these problems must be addressed expediently and effectively.
"While DCTT focused much of its attention on fighting and preventing further damage to the ship, the Combat Systems Training Team (CSTT) looks for electrical fires which can pose a threat to cooling and radar systems," said Chief Electronic's Technician (SW) Michael Murphy, CS-6 leading chief petty officer and a Wautoma, Wis. native. "But it was the successful integration of the different training teams that helped make FEP such a success."
The training cycle officially began in January after a three-month stand down for the crew which began upon the ship's September 14, 2001, return from its last deployment. Although there was an extended time between underway cycles, the crew managed to stay on top of their game.
"We have a short turnaround time between deployments, so we've had to maximize the time available for training," Daly said. "Fortunately we still have a lot of personnel with 'cruise experience,' and they were able to carry that knowledge with them through FEP."
While FEP has been completed, it's only the beginning of the next training cycle, the Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).
"FEP focused on the readiness of the ship alone. COMPTUEX involves the integration of the entire battle group (including the air wing)," Daly said. "Commander Carrier Group One will evaluate the battle group as a whole to make sure we meet all of our objectives in a multi-threat environment."
If the crew's "showcase of skill" during FEP was at all indicative of their actual ability to react to any given emergency, than COMPTUEX, as well as the upcoming deployment, will be nothing short of a success.
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