November 6, 2018 – USS Nitze (DDG 94) departed Naval Base Norfolk Friday, Nov. 2, to participate in the Navy’s first East Coast Carrier Strike Group (CSG) cruiser-destroyer (CRUDES) Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise.
SWATT is led by Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) and is designed to increase warfighting proficiency, lethality, and interoperability of participating units.
Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12) cruiser-destroyer (CRUDES) units are participating alongside Nitze during this exercise to include USS Mason (DDG 87), Gonzalez (DDG 66) and Bainbridge (DDG 96) as well as Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
“SMWDC Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI’s) improve ships’ proficiency in carrying out missions in the surface, anti-submarine, integrated air and missile defense, and information warfare domains,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nick Van Wagoner, a SMWDC Headquarters assigned WTI and lead planner for the exercise. “We support ship’s crew through the exercise by helping establish a culture of (PBED), or planning, briefing, executing, and debriefing. This model utilizes a crawl-walk-run approach, allowing teams to build and develop skills as they move from basic to more advanced events.”
“SWATT allows us to exercise our combat muscles and ensure that we have all of the systems and training in place for operational success,” said Command Master Chief Sean Bailey, Nitze’s command master chief. “We are able to advance our skill set through this training by exposing any areas which may require additional attention. This allows us to fine-tune our practices and enhance mission readiness.”
“When ships depart for deployment their threat environments may be vast and dynamic,” said Van Wagoner. “Ships must be prepared to meet any challenge regardless of their future areas of operation.”
Some events encapsulated within SWATT include pre-checks, evolutions that summarize preemptive procedures for missile firing. Additionally, ships participating in SWATT may participate in the Navy’s enhanced missile exercise program – Live Fire With a Purpose (LFWAP). LFWAP provides ships a holistic and in depth opportunity to go through weapons pre-checks through the launch of weaponry.
“Getting our vessel underway affords us the occasion to practice operations we would not be able to while in port,” said Bailey. “Knowing that our Sailors have the ability to successfully launch missiles will validate all of the hard work and training that we have done to prepare for this exercise.”
Leading up to this exercise, Nitze crew members coordinated with SMWDC and CSG 12 to gain advice and guidance on the events they will be participating in during this underway. Data and information will be collected to measure responsiveness and efficiency in each evolution executed and will be used to continue efforts to increase Fleet wide warfighting tactics.
“The crew has been phenomenally receptive, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to work alongside them in our effort to make the surface force better,” said Van Wagoner.
CSG 12’s team-of-teams approach to success is representative of the continuous efforts of all units involved and will enhance tactical proficiency and mission-readiness across the Fleet. USS Nitze is homeported in Norfolk. It is operationally assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 which is aligned under the leadership of CSG 12.
SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander, Naval Surface Forces, and its mission is to increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of Surface Force across all domains. In addition to its headquarters element, it has four divisions focused on Anti-Submarine/Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW), Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD), Amphibious Warfare (AMW), and Mine Warfare (MIW).