Friday, March 27, 2009

U.S. 4th Fleet Stands Up Maritime Operations Center

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet officially launched the implementation process for the command's new maritime operations center (MOC) March 2.

The MOC implementation process will continue until the preliminary accreditation phase in August during the annual multi-national maritime exercise PANAMAX 09.

Through the Navy Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (NTTP 3-32.1) manual released in October 2008, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead directed all numbered fleets and Navy component command headquarters to adopt the MOC system, which allows commanders to more easily and effectively control assigned and attached forces by monitoring, assessing, planning and directing missions.

"This transition is taking place so we can better align and interoperate with the other numbered fleets and component commands using a common MOC system," said Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, commander of both U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) and U.S. 4th Fleet.

"Most importantly, the MOC provides for an institutionalized framework and process for the effective conduct of planning, operations and intelligence by a trained and focused team. We will more efficiently conduct our recurring missions, such as regional partner nation engagements, security cooperation and deterrence, all while maintaining the capability to effectively execute crisis response and contingency operations."

MOCs allow the Navy to maintain a state of readiness, providing commanders with all the necessary resources to constantly manage operations and be able to smoothly transition from peacetime operations to disaster relief operations and major combat operations, while still handling fleet management functions.

The structure and staffing of a MOC depends on the command's missions and the regional environments where operations will be conducted, which include preparing for existing or potential adversaries as well as natural disasters. Hurricanes and tropical storms are the most frequent natural disasters that occur in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of focus, which encompasses the Caribbean, Central and South America, and surrounding waters and where U.S. 4th Fleet has operational responsibility of assigned assets.

"A functioning MOC will facilitate more effective, efficient and timely response to environmental disasters requiring U.S. humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR)," said Capt. Gregory S. Parker, of the U.S. 4th Fleet MOC Implementation Team.

U.S. 4th Fleet staff members received training Feb. 23-27 to better operate the command's MOC. Instructors from the Naval War College Assess and Assist Team provided the training to various members of the staff, explaining the MOC concept.

"As a MOC, we are aligned with all of the other numbered fleets, planning, monitoring and assessing operations in the same manner," said Cmdr. Craig Black of the U.S. 4th Fleet MOC Implementation Team. "There will be growing pains, but in the long run, the transition will be beneficial."

NAVSO, the Navy component command of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), oversees maritime operations throughout Latin America, including exercises and deployments, counter illicit trafficking support and theater security cooperation events.

U.S. 4th Fleet is the numbered fleet exercising operational control of U.S. Navy units temporarily operating in the SOUTHCOM area of focus.