Courtesy of Surface SITREP, published by the Surface Navy Association (www.navysna.org).
Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, USN-Ret.: Tell us about yourself and your command.
Lt. Cmdr. Roger Young, USN: I’m from Austin, Texas and joined the Navy in 1998 as an electronics technician, and served on USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) Gold Crew, out of Kings Bay, Georgia, before I was selected for the Seaman-to-Admiral program. I’ve been on Firebolt for 14 months.
Let’s talk about your mission and what you have to carry out that mission. How do you work with the other ships here and our partner missions?
We provide maritime security operations and stability, and we build partnerships. We do that a number of different ways. Some of that is just our present ops being out in here, you know, for the other navies to see the U.S. has presence and can operate independently in this 5th Fleet AOR. And then the building of partnerships, which is one thing 5th Fleet’s really interested in, is we do that through annual, semi-annual, quarterly exercises that we do. We do some CTF 152 operations where we conduct AAs and AAVs – approach and assist, approach and assist visit. 152 is part of the Combined Maritime Forces, that’s that 33 nation partnership that we have out here. 152 is our Gulf Security Task Force. We go out there, spread good will, talk to the fishermen, find out if they’ve seen anything unusual, and let them know we’re out here and we’re available. We can see how their quality of life is. Sometimes we’ll give them some water.
“We’ve got a beautiful silhouette coming over the horizon with the sun in the background…You say, ‘That’s a war ship!’”
Sometimes we’ll go out on the other side of the Straits, too. We take part in Exercise Kunjar Haad each year with Oman.
We even support Army watercraft with escort when they are delivering material between ports in the region. PCs are well-suited for that. There hasn’t been a carrier in the AOR in quite some time, so the PCs and the WPBs have been carrying the load for 5th Fleet, in my mind.
How would you characterize the professionalism of our partners over here?
They are professional mariners who are as interested in building this partnership in maritime security as we are. And I think these exercises are so important and beneficial. They gain a lot, and I learn something from them every time we go out, as well. They love to train and to learn. If you go aboard their ships you can see how clean they are and how professional their crews are, and that respect up and down the chain of command. It’s absolutely amazing to see.
There was a point where the Navy felt the PCs didn’t have a mission, and were going to dispose of them. One went to the Philippines; and some were transferred to the Coast Guard. But we realized we really needed a small, capable combatant. So how do you see the capability of this ship fitting into the surface fleet?
Pound for pound, we can go toe-to-toe with most people. We’ve got a pair of Mark 38 gyro stabilized 25mm guns; M240 machine guns; and .50 cals on both sides, and we’ve got the Griffin missile system, they’re on our Stinger decks; as well as the Mark 19 which is a 40-mm grenade launcher off the starboard quarter. So we are very capable in that regard. Now, if war breaks out and missiles are flying, how much impact are we really gonna have in that type of situation? Probably very little. But when you put us out in front, we definitely become a deterrent, and our presence can determine what other nations intend to do. When a small ship like us takes part in exercises and operations out here, we can tell based on our interactions our adversaries or other nations out here what they intend to do or how they’re pushing and pressing. And I think that’s very viable. I can tell you that these crews are proud; the COs are proud; we will not back down from a fight. Our pre-planned responses (PPRs) are very similar to every CRUDES I’ve ever been on. The only thing that limits us is the surface missile capabilities and the strike packages.