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Navy finishes multination exercises in Hawaiian waters

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  • Gunners Mate 2nd Class David Manis simulates firing a crew-served weapon aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) during a small boat attack exercise in Hawaii waters on March 30.

The Navy is wrapping up "Koa Kai" exercises in Hawaii waters that involved surface ships, submarines and aircraft from the United States, Canada and France.

The semiannual training ran Thursday through today and is the primary means by which ships homeported in Hawaii are assessed as ready to perform core missions.

Koa Kai involves warfare and seamanship evolutions that enable ships to transition from unit level basic training to more advanced, integrated training, and to exercise in a multiship environment that includes submarines and aviation, the Navy said.

Sailors aboard the ships take part in exercises including "visit, board, search and seizure" drills, anti-submarine warfare and live-fire training.

The guided-missile destroyers Russell, O’Kane, Chung-Hoon and Chafee; and guided-missile cruisers Lake Erie and Port Royal participated in the exercise, the Navy said.

Attack submarines were part of the training, along with Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 37, and P-3 Orion sub hunters from Patrol Squadrons 9 and 47 at Kaneohe Bay and the 407th, which is a Canadian Air Force P-3 squadron.

Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler Yukon provided services to Koa Kai participants and acted as a "high-value unit" that other ships protected. 

The French navy frigate Prairial also joined the ship-maneuvering part of the exercise.

In one exercise, Port Royal, Russell, Chafee, Chung-Hoon and Prairial operated in unison performing ship maneuvering and formation. 

Cmdr. Justin Orlich, executive officer of Chung-Hoon, said that Hawaii-based destroyers do not normally train here in a battle group environment.

"It provides us with a higher-level intermediate training that we don’t normally get by being out here in Hawaii," said Orlich. "In the old days, we had to go to San Diego to work in a strike group before deploying, which took up a lot of time.  It was time away from family and time away from our own training."

Orlich said the ability to work with other ships in close proximity allowed Chung-Hoon to prepare for an upcoming deployment.  

In another exercise, Chief Fire Controlman Robert Jennings, assigned to Chung-Hoon, led a visit, board, search and seizure team to Yukon.

"We run drills per quarter, but to be able to use (the Yukon), that’s something we get to do once or twice a year," Jennings said.  "It’s a good opportunity to get aboard another ship of a similar design to what we get to see on deployment."

The search and seizure teams are used extensively for maritime interdiction and anti-piracy operations


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