Friday, February 05, 2010

Harry S. Truman Strike Group Participates in Sustainment Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David R. Finley, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN , At Sea (NNS) -- The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and key elements of its carrier strike group (CSG) recently completed a successful sustainment training exercise (SUSTAINEX) in preparation for its next deployment.

The carrier, Carrier Air Wing 3 and destroyers were at sea from Jan.20 to Feb.1 to take part in the exercise which serves as a key training element for keeping the strike group trained and ready.

"After Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) in September, we were completely trained up and ready to go on cruise," said Cmdr. Chris Rankin, air operations officer. "When the deployment date slid we had to figure out a way to maintain our readiness."

"We ran it like a mini JTFEX," said Cmdr. Joe Gadwill, strike operations officer. "We worked with other ships within our own strike group as a coalition. It's called SUSTAINEX, because we are sustaining our readiness."

SUSTAINEX is a recertification evolution designed to test the capabilities of the carrier strike group. It evaluates how ships work together in a variety of tactical situations and ensures the strike group and its crew are ready for deployment.

"One of the main reasons we are out here is to get our COE [Combat Operations Efficiency] recertification," said Gadwill.

"What COE means is the carrier and air wing are proficient enough to operate without being in range of a divert field," said Rankin. "A lot of the time on deployment, we are either in the middle of an ocean where a divert field is too far away or we are off the coast of a hostile land where divert fields are not available."

The exercise calls for HST CSG to deal with real-life combat situations and fight off simulated attacks.

"The other ships are playing simulated bad guys," said Rankin. "They have a plan to come out and attack HST CSG. We have to engage them and actually demonstrate we can protect the ship in that kind of environment."

Plenty of Sailors were glad to be back out to sea and felt the SUSTAINEX evolution was a great success, including Capt. Nelson Castro, chief of staff for Carrier Strike Group 10.

"First, after spending the last few years in the joint community, it's great to be back at sea," Castro said. "With respect to the SUSTAINEX, I was just inspired by the strike group Sailors and Marines and their efficiency, professionalism and discipline throughout the exercise."

With the completion of SUSTAINEX, HST CSG remains fully trained and ready to deploy anywhere in the world when called upon.

The HST CSG is comprised of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), with its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing( CVW) 3, Commander, Strike Group 10, and embarked Destroyer Squadron 26 staff, guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60); guided missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81).

CVW-3 consists of Strike Fighter Squadrons VFA-32, VFA-37, VFA-105 and VMFA-312; Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron VAQ-130; Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-126; and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron HS-7.