Maritime forces from France, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States participated in the maritime warfare exercise Intrepid Sentinel in the Arabian Gulf in mid January.
Participating ships included France’s Marine Nationale F70AA-class air defense destroyer FS Cassard (D 614); United Kingdom’s Royal Navy Daring-class air defense destroyer HMS Dragon (D 35); Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155); U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111).
The exercise put the ships through several integrated events using air and surface platforms to build proficiency across multiple warfare areas and promote integration of multinational maritime forces in the area of operations into a cohesive combat force.
Some of the shared evolutions included a cross-deck of Sailors, air defense exercises, helicopter deck landing qualification (DLQ) cross decks, plane guard exercises and formation sailing.
Helicopter cross deck training was performed between U.S. Navy helicopters and French helicopters. MH-60R Sea Hawks, from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, were able to conduct DLQs with the Ballarat.
“Training to work together on a different platform, to work in close proximity together and to land on a new platform gives us the ability to expand our skillset,” said Lt. John White, a pilot assigned to HSM-71, the helicopter aircraft commander of one of the cross deck flights. “The opportunity that we were given to do this demonstrated not only our capability to interoperate, but how natural it is to work with our partner nations.”
The French Panther anti-submarine helicopters also conducted a DLQ cross deck to the flight deck of the John C. Stennis.
Intrepid Sentinel focused on modern naval warfighting core competencies by reviewing performance and tactics, command and control constructs and recommending solutions to warfighting gaps. The ships of the coalition also conducted integrated air intercept control and response, as well as trading off surface warfare commander and screen commander roles.
Intrepid Sentinel also included surface warfare exercises, such as formation sailing, where the ships of the coalition practiced dynamic warfare techniques demonstrating the interoperability between allies.
Conducting multilateral maritime exercises like Intrepid Sentinel allows coalition forces to deter potential adversaries, assure partners and hone skills that allow the group to collectively meet any challenge.