USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) recently participated in U.K. Submarine Command Course (SMCC), held in The Minches, a challenging maritime battlespace along the Northwest coast of Scotland. The difficult course offers leadership and tactical training for prospective Royal Navy submarine commanders, April 4-9, 2020.
The exercise requires participating submarines from the U.K. HMS Talent (S-92) and HMS Trenchant (S-91), and Norway’s HNOMS Utsira (S301), to implement both offensive and defensive strategies against “enemy” warships, which, in reality, are NATO surface vessels. Donald Cook played a critical role in SMCC by integrating with a NATO command and control structure and forming a Surface Action Group (SAG) that searched for Royal Navy submarines while simultaneously defending against simulated torpedo attack.
Allied interoperability was paramount during the exercise, as surface vessels joined Donald Cook from the U.K. RFA Tideforce (A139), Denmark HDMS Absalon (L16), Norway HNOMS Otto Sverdrup (F312), and Germany FGS Rhoen (T-704). Donald Cook often trains with European allies to increase collective readiness and contribute to the overall security environment.
“It was an honor to participate in SMCC’s world-class training for our partner nation’s future submarine commanders,” said Kelley Jones, Commanding Officer of Donald Cook. “Throughout the course of the exercise, I knew that as we were becoming better at searching and locating submarines, they were becoming better at hiding – it’s a win-win for deterrence-based security in the region.”
Jones refers to the opportunity SMCC provided for surface units to practice anti-submarine warfare, both at the individual level and as part of a coordinated response. Anti-submarine warfare continues to be a particularly pertinent surface naval mission, as it ensures the protection of commercial industry and critical infrastructure from a potential adversary’s undersea assets.
“Being able to locate and identify submarines in difficult environments is a warfare area that remains important in the U.S. Navy,” said Lieutenant Brendan Fay, Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer onboard Donald Cook. “Demonstrating our ability to accomplish this mission is the first step in deterring our adversaries from conducting undersea sabotage and surveillance. SMCC also gave us un-matched realistic practice in defending against the types of underwater weapons we might encounter in wartime.”
Donald Cook’s crew remains operationally ready to ensure regional security and participate in multi-navy exercises such as SMCC. Do to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the command took a series of precautionary measures to ensure the health of the crew before getting underway for a 10th patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. Precautions continue in the form of replenishments at sea (RAS), which allow Donald Cook to continuously operate underway while limiting exposure between the crew and foreign port operations personnel. Last week, Donald Cook conducted a RAS with U.K. naval auxiliary vessel, HMS Tideforce.
Donald Cook, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its 10th patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.