gun smoke, please
Steven O’Hara, of No. 41 Wing, was on the Ticonderoga class guidedmissile
cruiser USS Lake Champlain.
HAD never been to sea before, so was a little apprehensive about
what life would be like during the hectic and challenging exercise
environment, especially as it was a foreign vessel.
She was the anti-air warfare (AAW) command ship for the multinational
force (MNF), which comprised 18 major surface units from Australia,
Canada, Chile, South Korea and the US.
The ship’s role was to coordinate all AAW aspects for the MNF
and conduct other maritime defence functions, including close-in
protection of the USS John C. Stennis.
The initial highlight occurred during the departure from Pearl
Harbour when the ship’s company formed up on deck in full ceremonial
uniform to salute the USS Arizona Memorial and the decommissioned
battleship Missouri as we sailed past.
My primary duties were to observe and assist the ship’s air defence
offi cer with watchkeeping in the Combat Information Centre and
the air intercept controllers (AICs) with Fighter Control.
I was given an opportunity to conduct AIC missions during the
tactical phase of the exercise, controlling USN aircraft using
the ship’s phased array SPY-1 radar.
This radar system is one of the components of the powerful AEGIS
air warfare system. I saw fi rings of the Phalanx close-in weapon
system, fi ve inch deck guns, SM2 Standard surface-to-air missiles
and RGM- 84D harpoon anti-shipping missile.
It was amazing how much the morale lifted after the missile launches
and gun fi rings. As the pennant fl ying from the mast stated:
“Gun smoke is good, more is better”.