By MC2 Travis J. Kuykendall
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Public Affairs
The Harry S. Truman Strike Group (HSTSG) is underway for a three-week group sail off the coast of the Eastern United States, familiarizing themselves with one another in critical areas for future operations.
"The group sail is indispensable to building teamwork," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8 Rear Adm. Gene Black. "It's a bunch of teams that have to come together, work together and be synchronized to get fully combat capable."
Along with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), CSG 8 consists of seven ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28, USS Normandy (CG 60) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1.
"When you put all those pieces together, you have a formidable weapon system that can go anywhere in international waters on the face of this aarth, with tremendous combat power, and influence events as directed by the president and secretary of defense," said Black.
While Truman was being evaluated for Tailored Shipboard Test Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP), other ships in the strike group were operating in close proximity, using the time to act out real-world situations that they may encounter during future operations.
DESRON 28 Commodore Capt. Kevin Kennedy described the evolutions as air defense exercises and submarine warfare exercises, as well as practiced movements through choke points, like the Strait of Gibraltar or the Strait of Hormuz, which may be required while on deployment.
"We've really just practiced the full range of operating capabilities of a naval force while we've been out here the last two weeks," said Kennedy.
A destroyer squadron is a group of small surface combatants that screen and escort an aircraft carrier. Their mission is to ultimately protect the carrier by organizing the smaller ships, referred to as "small boys," to form a screen around the aircraft carrier to keep it safe from surface and sub-surface threats they could encounter.
"We've been organizing a lot of water space in order for our ships to be able to conduct exercises. We've been [simulating the] tracking [of] exercise threat contacts...getting used to going after sub-surface contacts and working in a strike group environment vice just a single unit environment," explained Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Michael Ross, a DESRON 28 Sailor. ""It's a good experience for them to work together and get used to having DESRON help direct the ships to fight the big-picture problem."
The group sail is the first time since July 2016 that the ships under DESRON 28 have operated in an integrated environment, said Kennedy.
Referring to the beginning of the underway period as "being a little bit like kids playing soccer," Kennedy added that "it [now] seems we're really coming around to a well-oiled warfighting machine for going into [composite training unit exercise]."
Kennedy pointed to a highlight moment when the group had an effective, skill-building exercise where the surface combatants were combined with the air wing to find, fix, track, target and engage an opposing force - acted by USS Gravely (DDG 107).
"The purpose is to train and identify the seams between different units to make a strike group," added Kennedy. "We've been very successful identifying those seams and [reducing] the seams between units so that we are a fighting force."
Truman has successfully completed TSTA/FEP and is preparing for future operations.
Farragut, The Sullivans Join HSTSG Group Sail
By MC2 Travis J. Kuykendall