PACIFIC OCEAN (July 10, 2013) The guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82), right, passes alongside the guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92) during a leapfrog exercise. Momsen is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gregory A. Harden II/Released)
Three destroyers have deployed on a mission to make the surface fleet more deadly.
This story was originally published April 19, 2016, at 5:10 p.m. EST and has been updated.
The destroyers Spruance, Momsen and Decatur deployed as part of a have been dispatched on a surface action group deployment and will be on the prowl in the Pacific, according to a Monday release from U.S. 3rd Fleet.
A carrier strike group typically deploys with a escorts like cruisers, destroyers and a destroyer squadron to guard the flattop and its air wing. But this stripped-down group's mission is special: Making the surface fleet more deadly.
The ships "will conduct maritime security operations and theater security efforts to enhance regional security and stability," 3rd Fleet said in a Mondayaccording to the release, and will also be working with the Coast Guard swapping intelligence.
But The destroyers are also charged with testing out concepts to make the surface Navy more of a threat to adversaries by being able to assault ships and bases from many angles, according to a naval expert. being developed inside the surface warfare community, said Bryan McGrath, a retired surface warfare officer and head of Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute.
The move is a key part of what surface Navy SWO leadership, including SWO boss Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, hasbeen advocating what they called "distributed lethality," aimed at breaking up groups of surface combatants to threaten enemy ships and land targets from multiple angles and forceing the adversary to devote surveillance assets like submarines and aircraft to finding them. The surface action groups pull the enemy in multiple directions and make it harder to spend resouces targeting the carrier strike groups.
At the same time, the ships will be outfitted with longer-rangeeaching missiles and networkstechnology that gives today's ships sharper fangs. In the past, Rowden has described these groups as "hunter killers."
Bryan McGrath, a retired surface warfare officer who has followed the strategy closely, said the SAG will be tasked with coming up with new ways of doing business in the surface fleet.
"They are deploying with the destroyer squadron CO and staff with them and one of thein things they are really on the hook for is figuring out what are some of the capabilities that we wish we had," said McGrath, deputy director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute. "What problems could we have created for someone responsible for surveilling them if we had different capabilities?
"What we are doing is really unleashing three ships crews and a DESRON staff's worth of innovation."
Rowden, head of Naval Surface Forces Pacific, announced the SAG deployment at the Surface Navy Association's annual meeting in January, and told Navy Times in an interview that the goal was to offer combatant commanders more than just carrier strike groups to pursue military operations around the world.
"We need to deploy the ships and begin to understand the effects we can achieve," Rowden said. "We can then begin to articulate those to the combatant commanders. So when the combatant commanders say, 'I need this capability,' we can say, 'This is the capability I can deliver with this adaptive force package, this is what we can deliver with the other package.' That way we can express to the combatant commanders the options available beyond the carrier strike groups."
That's an idea that has buy-in from Navy's top officer, who has called for ships to deploy in different configurations and with new capabilities to find new ways of employing the fleet.
The Navy should " explore alternative fleet designs" and begin "exploring new naval platforms and formations ... to meet combatant commander needs," wrote Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, in a January strategy document.