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Bunker Hill Assumes ESG 5 Sea Combat Command

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS060924-02
Release Date: 9/24/2006 11:36:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Bartels, USS Boxer Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) assumed the role as Sea Combat Commander Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 when she left on her Western Pacific deployment Sept. 13.

The role of Sea Combat Commander is traditionally filled by destroyer squadron commanders when they deploy with a carrier strike group.

Cruisers usually provide air defense for an ESG. Because of the broad range of operational requirements of an ESG, a ship’s role can be modified to fit the needs of the strike group.

“Because ESGs don’t have aircraft carriers, there is less air traffic, so air defense becomes less taxing,” said Chief Operations Specialist Scott P. Quinn, Bunker Hill’s operations intelligence division leading chief petty officer. “The addition of amphibious operations adds a whole new set of challenges that are different from a carrier strike group. The roles within the whole strike group must be shifted in order to meet ESG’s needs.”

Bunker Hill will defend the strike group from subsurface, surface and air threats. Bunker Hill is also responsible for the defense of the strike group by positioning its ships.

“Communication is absolutely critical when operating with a strike group to ensure that nothing being done by one part of the group is hindering the objectives of another,” said Lt. Cmdr. John J. Fay, Bunker Hill’s operations officer. “Our job is to ensure that all missions can be carried out with the best level of protection for our Sailors and Marines.”

Bunker Hill and the crew have been preparing for Bunkers' role as Sea Combat Commander the past six months. The crew began with unit level training to fine tune their skills before moving on to a series of combined training exercises with the rest of ESG 5 this past summer.

The exercises gave the ESG 5 warfare commanders a chance to practice different operational scenarios to empower the warfare commanders with tactical decision making without prior approval from the ESG 5 commander.

“The Navy is one of the only services that delegates tactical level authority,” said Capt. Charles M. Gaouette, Bunker Hill’s commanding officer. “Having trust and communication between the warfare commanders allows us the ability to react quickly to situations, which is a major tactical advantage.”

ESG 5 is comprised of Bunker Hill, USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Dubuque (LPD 8), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Howard (DDG 83). Also deploying with the strike group is Amphibious Squadron 5, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Coast Guard Cutter midgett (WHEC 726) and Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341).

ESG 5 is currently conducting operations in support of the global war on terrorism while transiting to the Persian Gulf.

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