PACIFIC OCEAN ---- Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) completed the final phase of combat systems ship qualifications trials (CSSQT) and follow-on operation testing of the ship's weapons systems Feb. 2.
Command, control, computers, communications, combat and intelligence (C5I) department's CF division has been preparing for CSSQT since the ship completed its maintenance availability. This final phase included upload/download, dud/misfire and watch-team training on both the Mark 38, Mod 2 30mm gun and the close-in weapon system (CIWS).
The ship's crew engaged in various training exercises to ensure the ship's weapon systems is properly installed, functional, and can be operated safely.
"The goal of CSSQT was to determine our overall capabilities fighting the ship's self defense for surface tracks, as well as low, slow flyers," said Chief Fire Controlman Donald Reichert, CF division leading chief petty officer. "America is the first of its class, so we do tests like these to determine our overall capability to defend ourselves and to make sure our systems operate with peak efficiency at all times."
Evaluators from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division boarded America to verify and validate the ship's combat systems through demonstration and operational testing.
"CF division [performed exceptionally] this entire underway," said Reichert. "They put rounds on targets and blew up some stuff. I cannot be more proud of my [Sailors] than I am right now."
America's Mark 38 30mm gun and CIWS were both successfully demonstrated during the live-fire phase of the trials. The focus of CSSQT combat watch team training was to establish missile firing procedures, Go/No-Go criteria for gunnery exercises, casualty identification and mitigation, and simulated detect-to-engage exercises. C5I also demonstrated and tested the ship's radars and communications suite.
"I was the blue team CIWS remote control station operator in the combat information center for every single scenario, and I was the gold team CIWS local control station operator," said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Frank Condon, CIWS work center supervisor for CF division. "The CSSQT evolution went [well]. Most of the time I was doing what I was trained to do -- you're trained to listen to the TAO (tactical action officer). You search for targets, you find them, and you shoot them."
America passed the final phase of CSSQT and successfully performed operational tests of the Mark 38 and CIWS on low-cost, modular targets. The next step for the crew is the ship's first operational deployment later this year.
"We shot literally thousands of rounds through CIWS, thousands of rounds through the Mark 38, and not once did the guns quit due to a malfunction," said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Blackman, America's weapons officer and the gold team TAO during CSSQT. "I would put our weapons against any other ship in the fleet right now. That's a true testament to the fire controlmen and the gunner's mates for their hard work and the time they put in for maintenance."
America is capable of supporting a wide spectrum of military operations and missions, including putting Marines ashore for combat operations, launching air strikes, keeping sea lanes free and open for the movement of global commerce, and delivering humanitarian aid following a natural disaster.