Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ramage Proves Multi-Mission Capability During Deployment

By Ensign Patrick Whitmore, USS Ramage Public Affairs

USS RAMAGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG 61) is wrapping up its seven-month deployment to the Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Operation as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and is making preparations to return to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Ramage's deployment marked the first east coast U.S. Navy ship to deploy equipped with ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities. This pivotal defensive capability gives Ramage the unique ability to intercept short and medium range ballistic missiles and provide crucial missile defense to America's interests and allies.

"Ballistic missile defense has become a core mission of the Navy and a key element of [the] maritime strategy and will continue to be well into the future," said Ramage's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Pete Galluch. "Ramage did an exceptional job in setting the standard for future BMD success."

During the deployment, Ramage was called upon to support a wide range of missions. From fulfilling duties as a strategic BMD asset within 5th and 6th Fleet, to conducting more than 100 approach-and-assist visits in the Central Arabian Gulf, to defending Iraq's maritime oil infrastructure – all skill sets of Ramage's crew were called upon to complete these missions.

"Our deployment has been a testament to the dedication and commitment that is required to complete such a broad range of tasks," Galluch said. "That Ramage was able to respond quickly and effectively to any mission given is a direct reflection of the continual vigilance and professionalism that our Sailors maintain. By their flexibility and perseverance, they have earned a very well-deserved return home."

Ramage also conducted counterpiracy operations, cooperative training with foreign navies, air defense operations with U.S. aircraft carriers, and other critical missions while maintaining a safe and professional work environment.

"This deployment clearly shows just how challenging and flexible the crew can be in flawlessly accomplishing multi-faceted missions and at many times conducting the missions simultaneously," said Ramage's Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jack Killman. "From the moment we entered 5th Fleet, our taskings drew national attention, and Ramage quickly earned the reputation of being the 'go-to ship' to get the job done. I am very proud of the crew and our many accomplishments executed safely and professionally on deployment."

Junior and senior Sailors achieved numerous qualifications and professional achievements while deployed. A large portion of their successes was attributed to the experience and leadership aboard Ramage.

"Deployment is a time to use and show off the skills and training that the crew developed throughout the year leading up to a deployment," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Gerald Coulson. "During our deployment, Ramage Sailors were challenged with many operational tasks. The crew met and excelled in all warfare areas."

"Likewise, they improved themselves personally by completing numerous college-level courses, surface warfare officer (SWO) and enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) qualifications, along with many watch station qualifications," continued Coulson. "We held two advancement exams during this deployment, and our Sailors once again excelled by achieving a 38.5 percent advancement rate -- well above the 25 percent national rate."

By committing themselves early in the deployment, Ramage leadership ensured success for the entire crew.

"Many of their successes were products of the guidance offered by their chain of command and leading chief petty officers," said Coulson. "These efforts were a direct result of Ramage's new dedication towards the mentorship program. Ramage Sailors know that operational excellence is an all-hands effort."

Ramage is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditonary Strike Group supporting maritime security operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.