- This month, the airplane carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group cleared a course through the Atlantic for a group of freight ships led by the cruiser USS Vella Gulf.
- It’s the very first time since 1986 that the Navy has done this kind of convoy, an operation that the military sees as increasingly essential in the contested environment of the Atlantic.
The Defender-Europe 2020 workout will be the largest implementation of US-based forces to Europe in 25 years, with some 20,000 soldiers deploying from the United States to join another 17,000 troops from 17 other nations.
The workout will take place in April and May, and to get some of those soldiers and their gear to Europe, the United States Armed force Sealift Command freight ship USNS Benavidez, US-flagged merchant lorry providers MV Resolve and MV Patriot, are currently sailing across the Atlantic, escorted by guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf.
Convoys are nothing new for the Navy, but it’s something the service hasn’t focused on because The second world war. Now, as the United States military reorients towards a potential clash with another sophisticated enemy, it’s bending that muscle again.
” We undoubtedly would practice this a lot in World War II. After that, not a lot, but we still did practice it,” Cmdr. Troy Denison, director of existing operations for US second Fleet, informed press reporters on a phone call Friday. “But the last one we did was in 1986, so this is really the very first time in a long time that we have actually carried out a convoy operation.”
Military Sealift Command ships and US-flagged merchant vessels will move 1.3 million square feet of United States Army equipment to the workout.
” In any sort of contested scenario or wartime scenario, over 90%of the fight power, the freight, that gets from the United States over to the theater of operations is taken by sealift … managed by the Military Sealift Command, both through its organic assets and contract and commercial possessions,” Kim Harriss, supervisory marine transport expert with Military Sealift Command Atlantic, said on the call.
Sailing ahead of the Vella Gulf, Benavidez, and the cargo ships were the warship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its strike group, with P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft and an US submarine, which “cleared the maritime battle space,” 2nd Fleet stated in a release.
The whole workout is indicated to “simulate an opposed transit, evaluating the fleets’ capabilities to securely cross the Atlantic while evaluating new ways of conducting a convoy in today’s environment,” the release said.
” An opposed transit is essentially a transit where you’re most likely or perhaps going to experience the enemy,” Denison stated.
” In this specific case, there are promoted and real opponent possessions out there that the Benavidez and the Vella Gulf will experience as they transit across the Atlantic,” Denison added, using “genuine enemy” to refer to live opponents rather than real-world dangers.
” There is an anti-submarine warfare aspect to it as well as an anti-surface warfare aspect of it,” Denison said.