U.S. warships conduct first East Coast advanced carrier escort training with eye on Russian subs

East Coast-based U.S. Navy warships, in a first, are participating in surface warfare advanced tactical training (SWATT) in an effort to standardize similar training throughout the fleet.

The ships are assigned to the the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and include these Norfolk-based units: Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), USS Mason (DDG-87), USS Gravely (DDG-107) and USS Nitze (DDG-94), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf(CG-55), according to USNI News.

“This first East Coast CSG SWATT represents our commitment to the entirety of the Surface Force,” Rear Adm. Dave Welch, the commander of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), said in a statement. “SWATT provides a critical path for warfare and strike group commanders to develop the combat capability needed by our numbered fleet commanders to compete effectively in an era of great power competition.”

Ship crews are rehearsing a variety of wartime scenarios including integrated air- and missile defense, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare, along with amphibious, mine, and information warfare, the Navy announced.

Carrier duty involves defending the flattops from a variety of seaborne and undersea threats while also providing offensive strike capabilities.

Analysis: Of all of the various forms of warfare training involved in these exercises, one of the most important is anti-submarine warfare.

In a crisis involving NATO and Europe, the U.S. will need to move firepower as well as supplies across the Atlantic, where Russian submarines will no doubt be waiting.

Earlier, one of our analyses noted that the Navy has essentially told the Merchant Marines they are pretty much going to be on their own in that scenario because the sea service does not have enough warships for convoy escort duty — those assets will be deployed protecting carrier battle groups, troop transports, and performing anti-submarine operations.

So this particular “first” for East Coast units appears to indicate the Navy is not only taking the North Atlantic Russian submarine threat seriously, as it should, but also actively training to defeat it. 

This, along with reactivating the Second Fleet, is further evidence that the Pentagon is preparing all branches of service for near-peer conflict in a further shift away from fighting small brushfire wars with low-tech adversaries.


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