Wednesday, January 26, 2011

'Call of the Ocean': Sonar Techs Listen in Defense of USS Leyte Gulf

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Guerra, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS LEYTE GULF, At Sea (NNS) -- The 14 Sailors that comprise Weapons department's CA division aboard USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) have been steadily hearing "the call of the ocean" as they steam through U.S. 6th Fleet's area of operation, Jan. 25.

The sonar technicians are helping to protect the ship by listening to changes in the frequency in water, allowing for quicker response to potential threats.

Sonar technicians are trained to detect, classify, and localize incoming torpedoes. The technicians are also responsible for deploying the AN/SLQ-25A (NIXIE) torpedo countermeasure, a vital component to the ship's torpedo defense system.

The NIXIEs "soft kill" technology is able to confuse a torpedo and draw fire away from the ship through the use of a towed decoy device and shipboard signal generator. The combination can attract the passive sonar of an incoming torpedo by mimicking ship noise, such as a propeller or engine, which is more attractive to the torpedo's sensors than the ship.

"We train to rapidly deploy NIXIE, recognize incoming torpedoes and know what type of weapon the enemy is deploying against us," said Sonar Technician 3rd Class (Surface) Andrew D. Johnson. "It's vital in order to allow the ship to make the necessary evasive maneuvers."

Leyte Gulf's NIXIE "Quickdraw" was a recent training scenario designed to test the response time for getting NIXIE into the water when faced with aggression.

"It's important to keep personnel alert," said Ens. Maelina T. Sakaio, anti-submarine warfare officer. "You have to continually train in order to develop and improve."

In order to deploy NIXIE, the division must first receive the order from the commanding officer. Once permission is given, NIXIE is lowered through an opening in the aft of the ship by a winch to a specified depth. It's a mixture of speed and precision that sonar technicians must work to achieve in order to successfully deploy the torpedo countermeasure.

"We conduct training on the equipment in order to better understand how the system works and also maintain proficient, safe winch operation," said Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class (SW) Robert W. Kibler, CA division leading petty officer. "The best training always remains the actual deployment of the NIXIE."

As Leyte Gulf continues with its scheduled deployment into the 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation, the division continues to work toward mission success.

"Our division knows how real the threat is, and we do our best to train to it, and also educate the crew to the dangers as well," said Chief Sonar Technician (Surface) (SW/IUSS) Anthony Wagner, CA division leading chief petty officer.

Anti-submarine warfare has been a focus of Leyte Gulf long before deployment, and as they move closer to 5th Fleet, the sonar technicians will call upon their numerous training events to guide them.

"We've trained simulating merchant escorts, channel passages, anti-submarine and anti-piracy warfare, and even tracking subs to fire upon them," said Kibler.

As Leyte Gulf continues its deployment, they understand the importance of what they are listening to.

"We are the ship's first line of defense when it comes to anti-torpedo defense," said Wagner.

Leyte Gulf is deployed as part of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

Enterprise CSG includes Leyte Gulf, CSG 12, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Destroyer Squadron 2, the guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Mason (DDG 87), and the eight squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 1.