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Vandegrift, Canberra Team Up

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050603-08
Release Date: 6/3/2005 1:56:00 PM

From Carrier Strike Group 5 Public Affairs

USS VANDEGRIFT, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) and the Australian ship HMAS Canberra (FFG 02) completed combined operations May 19 while transiting through the Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean.

The two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, both constructed in Todd Shipyard, Seattle, conducted a week of training in anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface warfare, as well as basic seamanship and ship handling.

“Working with the Australians is always a pleasure," said Cmdr. David Chase, Vandegrift’s commanding officer. "They are a highly capable regional ally and we jump at the opportunity to train with them."

The transit schedule of events aimed at honing each ship’s warfare capabilities while improving communications between the two countries.

“Although we are both English-speaking countries, the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Navy operate differently, which in itself can cause communication gaps,” said Lt. j.g. Jason Nelson of Sterling, Ill. “To assume that just because two countries speak the same language, that there will be no communication rifts is dangerous, especially when it comes to operating (together). These types of exercises are important in strengthening our allied ties, as well as ensuring we are all operating from the same page.”

To help narrow the communication gap and improve interoperability, Vandegrift and Canberra exchanged more than 15 Sailors. Sailors were transferred between the two ships via helicopter or small boat everyday for an overnight stay none of them would soon forget.

The transit was a success as the rigorous schedule enabled both crews to get training they would not have otherwise received had both ships been traveling independently. Just as important, however, was the morale boost both crews received from traveling in company. With new visitors arriving aboard everyday, both ships embraced the opportunity to provide their guests a warm and welcome visit.

Canberra Sailors experienced Vandegrift’s favorite mess deck pastimes of bingo, nacho night and movie night on the flight deck. Both ships kept similar entertainment schedules, allowing for a steel beach picnic and swim call for both crews.

During a brief stop in Yokosuka, Vandegrift treated Canberra to a barbeque and sports day. Canberra reciprocated when the ships arrived in Guam, hosting a sports day and picnic. Crews from both frigates feasted on steak and burgers before taking to the fields for a game of softball and soccer. No scores were kept, although bragging rights are expected to linger for some time for these two competitive crews.

“We learned a great deal about each other’s capabilities this week and will apply lessons learned to future events such as Talisman Saber 2005, a joint U.S/Australian exercise scheduled in June 2005,” said Chase.

Operating out of Yokosuka, Japan, Vandegrift is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and the Kitty Hawk Strike Group. To learn more, please visit the Web at www.ccsg5.navy.mil.


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