April 20, 2020 – Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) led U.S. Navy warships through Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise, March 30 through April 17, in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Units included in the training were the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), amphibious transport docks ships USS Somerset (LPD 25) and USS San Diego (LPD 22), and the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1).
“This advanced tactical exercise was the most demanding we’ve had to date for the Surface Force as we navigated being able to safely execute this critical training amidst the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, Commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center. “The ultimate intent was to increase the lethality and combat power of naval surface forces by preparing our units to do what warships are designed to do – fight and win at sea – and that’s exactly what was accomplished here.”
SMWDC facilitated the advanced level training to increase the tactical proficiency, lethality, and interoperability of amphibious and littoral combat ships within U.S. Third Fleet.
“It was exciting to witness the strength of our ships and Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) during the SWATT exercise. The team was united, maximized force readiness, and minimized exposure to the harmful conditions the world is experiencing. They were ready and leaned forward into SWATT, which is an exercise dedicated to improved warfighting skills, increased lethality, and overall tactical proficiency across multiple warfare disciplines” said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Downing, SMWDC lead SWATT planner. “During this unprecedented time the ships, with embarked WTIs and supporting teams, employed their combat and weapon systems across several live-fire and complex training events during the at-sea period. The result was as expected, a sharpened and more lethal ARG and LCS force.”
The warships conducted several training exercises, including anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air defense and amphibious warfare. Complex live-fire events included missile exercises, torpedo exercises and gunnery exercises.
The Navy evaluates all exercises and operations on a case-by-case basis during the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to ordering crews to sequester on board and continuing with a planned evolution, commanders of all our units, and at all levels, carefully balanced the need to maintain unit readiness and the health of the force with the impact to families and the Sailors.
SMWDC and each ship followed all CDC and Navy guidelines regarding COVID-19 during the evolution. The training provided essential and vital tactical training and proficiency to the operational fleet, in order to ensure that units remain lethal and ready.