What Destroyers and Cruisers Add to a Carrier Strike Group
Guest Blog By Captain Nick Sarap, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 1
I have seen what our cruisers and destroyers (CRUDES) are capable of, and know them to be a vital contributor to our Carrier Strike Groups. Most folks who have spent any amount of time on a CRUDES know they are invaluable to our Navy.
Without the cruiser performing air defense, the high value unit (HVU) – often a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier bringing the pre-dominance of the power projection to the strike group – would not be able to send pilots downrange to perform their jobs of conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), strike missions, or any combination thereof. The HVU’s ability to maneuver safely throughout the world’s waters while routinely launching and recovering aircraft relies solely on the multi-mission, multi-weapon capabilities our CRUDES deliver and train toward on a daily basis.
Surrounding a Carrier or other HVU with the “ring of steel,” comprised of one cruiser and two or more destroyers, not only allows the HVU to safely execute her primary mission, it also provides offensive and defensive capabilities galore for the entire Strike Group. Without the cruiser and destroyers:
– there would be no alerts from active or passive sound navigation and ranging (SONAR) when a submarine is within the area of operations, potentially threatening the ships in the strike group and carrier strike operations;
– there would be no shipborne surface, or air-engagement capabilities in the event that lethal weapons must be employed in order to protect our nation and our assets;
– there would be no AN/SPY-1/3 radars to detect air contacts well ahead of the force during transits or routine operations;
– there would be no 5” guns standing at the ready for a worst-case scenario involving small craft swarming the HVU.
One could continue on with a mile-long list; suffice it to say that the CRUDES provide a robust mission set necessary for a strike group to conduct operations in support of America’s national interests. Each of these ships has the ability to engage roles as other Warfare Commanders’ when necessary, bearing a tremendous responsibility and displaying the versatility and flexibility of the CRUDES complement.
It is readily apparent that the CRUDES we employ every day in our Strike Group operations are capable of conducting and supporting a myriad of mission-sets required of the Strike Group. The surface ships feverishly train and hone various skillsets regularly so that the Aircraft Carrier can do what she is called to do – to be a forward, ready and engaged centerpiece, a visible maritime deterrence for the U.S. command authority. The systems, weapons, and most importantly the people aboard every single American flag warship assigned as a CRUDES asset are top-notch in every way – fully ready and standing the watch.
I am currently stationed at Destroyer Squadron One, where the command logo conveys the unit’s ethos,“If you want peace, prepare for war.” And that is precisely what our cruisers and destroyers deliver – they allow us to rest easy in times of peace, knowing we are indeed prepared for whatever lies ahead of us.
Sarap is a 1991 graduate of Bethany College. He completed sea tours aboard USS Puget Sound (AD 38), USS Kidd (DDG 993), USS Thorn (DD 988), and served as executive officer of USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51). He commanded USS Firebolt (PC 10) and USS Wayne E Meyer (DDG 108). He reported to Destroyer Squadron One in June of 2015.