Saturday, February 02, 2008

Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group Completes ULTRA-S Assessment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Gearhiser, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group completed the Unit Level Training Assessment - Sustainment (ULTRA-S) on all six surface vessels Jan. 24.

ULTRA-S assesses a ship's ability to train itself with the aid of an outside observer.

During the training period, teams of between 18 and 25 assessors from various ships in the strike group, including between eight and 10 representatives from Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 8, boarded the various ships in the strike group and evaluated their training procedures. The assessors traveled from ship-to-ship for nearly a month, staying a few days on board each unit.

"We break the evaluation down by surface and air warfare areas, from damage control to navigation, seamanship and other warfare areas," said Lt. Michael Reed, training officer for PHIBRON 8.

The purpose of the ULTRA-S evaluation is to ensure that U.S. Navy ships are prepared for their warfighting and peacekeeping duties at sea.

"The main point is to maintain the ship's proficiency through out the year," Reed continued. "Senior leadership wanted to put in a measurement that ensures ships are at the basic level of training and are always ready to deploy. Having these assessments maintains a ship's training readiness and their warfighting capabilities."

Capt. Frank Ponds, Commander, PHIBRON 8 said that conducting ULTRA-S ensures that every ship is a "ready-now" asset, available for tasking.

"ULTRA-S keeps us at a sustained, high-level of performance, capable to meet any mission, anytime, anywhere," added Ponds.

The Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment and consists of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), guided missile cruiser USS Vickburg (CG 69), guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), guided missile frigate USS Carr (FFG 52) and attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755).