USS Essex Ready Group Leaves San Diego for Major Training Exercise

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The USS Essex steams under the Coronado Bridge. Navy photo

Sailors and Marines from the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group have departed Naval Base San Diego for a new type of tactical training exercise.

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The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage and dock landing ship USS Rushmore left San Diego Monday along with elements of the Camp Pendleton-based 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211.

The Navy said the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training exercise — known as SWATT — is focused on advanced training at sea to improve warfighting proficiency, lethality and ship interoperability before further training in the ready group’s deployment cycle.

It will be the first-ever SWATT exercise for an amphibious ready group.

“Providing watch teams and warfare commanders the reps-and-sets they need to exercise and build their combat muscle is critical,” said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center. “It’s easy to look at a group of sports teams and see who’s been putting time in at the track and the weight room. That’s what this is — spring training to ensure these ships are fit, ready and lethal.”

Areas of training during the SWATT will include surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, integrated air and missile defense, amphibious warfare, mine warfare and information warfare.

“The goal is for surface ships to go through a SWATT event during each and every deployment training cycle,” said Wade. “This is something that other communities carve out as sacred time for units and warfare commanders to learn to work together as teams before moving along in the training cycle.”

“Quite simply, this is something we have to do as a community to maintain a competitive advantage against the peer and near-peer threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy,” he added.

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