Friday, March 14, 2008

Sea Sparrow Test conducted onboard "America's Big Stick"

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Erik K. Siegel, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) test-fires a RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile from the ship's port aft launcher. The NATO Sea Sparrow missile system (NSSMS) is used for air defense. The aircraft carrier is under way conducting carrier qualifications. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Laird (Released)

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (TR) (CVN 71) tested the NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System March 4.

As an unmanned drone flew toward TR a RIM-7 (ship-launched, intercept-aerial, guided-missile) Sea Sparrow was launched and exploded above it, shredding the drone and sending its remains into the ocean.

"We targeted an incoming drone, successfully hit it and it crashed down into the water," said Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Anthony T. Anania, leading petty officer of Combat Systems 7 division.

The RIM-7 is capable of delivering a 90 pound warhead and is one of the primary shipboard defensive weapon systems currently in-use by not only the U.S. Navy, but several other NATO countries.

"The Sea Sparrow is important to the defense of the ship," said Anania. "The Sea Sparrow is primarily an anti-missile missile, but it can disable aircraft or missiles, basically anything that flies."

This exercise was a significant milestone in TR's pre-deployment preparations, and provided key training and certifications.

"If we had to go out next month into the Gulf and do it all over again we definitely could," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class James C. Gass. "We'll be able to do great. We hit the drone with our first missile, and that's really good."

The Combat Direction Center (CDC) prepared for the test using live aircraft to simulate incoming missiles, according to Lt. Cmdr. Dan Nichols, TR's Senior Tactical Action Officer (TAO). The team practiced exactly how they were going to engage the incoming drone during the missile exercise.

In addition to aircraft, the CDC used an onboard simulator to give watchstanders a realistic training environment in preparation for the exercise so they had their procedures down perfectly. When the drone started its inbound run from 20 nautical miles away, there was not a lot of time to figure everything out, and CDC wanted to handle the situation correctly and accurately on the first try.

"Three weeks ago when we started putting this together, there was a lot of disconnection," said Lt. Craig A. Rosen, of TR's Operations Department. "We had to bring in a lot of information from all over the place. We really came together as a team. We created all of the briefs, we created a product that we thought the captain would be happy with and we felt like we could conduct a safe exercise. In the end, it all worked out."

Commanded by Capt. Ladd Wheeler, USS Theodore Roosevelt is the centerpiece of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRSCG). The TRSCG is preparing for a scheduled deployment later this year.