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USS Houston Strengthens Warfare Capabilities

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051018-15
Release Date: 10/18/2005 10:11:00 PM

By Lt. Arwen Chisholm, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Houston (SSN 713) partnered with the Australian Navy in September to strengthen its warfare capabilities through an annual joint exercise, Lungfish 2005.

Lungfish 2005 is a tactical development exercise between the two navies that trains and teaches tracking methods of both nuclear and diesel submarines.

In a direct response to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s priority to enhance anti-submarine warfare abilities, the submarine’s crew participated in two anti-submarine missions and joint submarine command courses while deployed to Perth, Australia, this summer. The joint exercises allowed for the U.S. Navy to learn and gain knowledge from the Australian diesel submarine HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74) and one of the country's nuclear submarines, HMAS Rankin (SSG 78).

“We tracked their submarine and tried some tactics out to enhance our ability to track and detect a diesel submarine,” said Lt. Cmdr Brian Davies, executive officer of Houston.

While both navies conducted tracking and detecting exercises, three Sailors from Houston were afforded the opportunity to ride aboard Australia’s diesel submarine.

“She is a pretty new submarine, totally automated with computerized systems, different from our boat,” said Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Thomas D. Douthitt of Grand Prairie, Texas, who participated in the exercise from inside the Australian diesel submarine. “Ours is manual. Everything is done by us mechanics.”

According to Davies, the exercise provided both navies hands-on, real-time training, which is more effective than any teachings conducted by a simulator or trainer.

“You can sit in front of a trainer all day long, but it is just different when you have a real exercise, a torpedo in the water, and getting a chance to see how you perform under pressure,” he said. “Any chance we have to go against a real diesel boat is beneficial to the U.S. Navy.”

In addition to the skills developed, the weeklong exercise strengthened communication ties between the two allied countries.

“They aren’t that much different than us,” Douthitt added. “We are all submariners. We all have the same ideas, same beliefs, but we say it different. They are all brother submariners.”

Houston, a Los Angeles-class submarine, is homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam. It is designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships. Its other missions range from intelligence collecting and Special Forces delivery to anti-ship and strike warfare.

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