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Features - Sea legs found in Pacific

More gun smoke, please

FLTLT Steven O’Hara, of No. 41 Wing, was on the Ticonderoga class guidedmissile cruiser USS Lake Champlain.

FLTLT Steven O’Hara

FLTLT Steven O’Hara

I 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”.




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