The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) closed out basic phase deployment training with a two-day, shipwide exercise known as the “Final Battle Problem,” while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, June 5 and 6.
Capt. MK Hays, commander, Afloat Training Group (ATG) Norfolk was aboard the Arlington with a team of assessors to observe the 45 real world scenario-based events aimed to test all warfare areas across the ship. This is the first time ATG has had the opportunity to witness a ship conducting the Final Battle Problem since the onset of COVID-19.
“It was great to watch Arlington’s training teams provide a robust training scenario for the crew,” said Hays. “Arlington definitely rose to the occasion to combat fires, flooding, inbound torpedoes and missiles, as well as medical casualties. It was neat to watch everyone’s enthusiasm and know-how to get things done as a team!”
During basic phase a ship conducts training evolutions in a very individualistic way that tests each warfare area one at a time. The Final Battle Problem is the first time a ship sees all of its training integrated into one tactical event.
This event was the culmination of two months of planning, coordinating and training by all of the Arlington warfare leaders and coordinators.
The ultimate goal was to ensure the Arlington is capable of working as a cohesive force to fight the ship in a real world scenario.
Final Battle Problem is not a graded evolution, so each ship’s schedule dictates their ability to conduct the drill.
“Since we got basic phase done early, we were able to squeeze in this two-day battle problem and try to stress out the crew and training teams, said Capt. Chris “Chowdah” Hill, commanding officer of the Arlington.
A few of the scenarios included items Arlington Sailors hadn’t trained on previously. This allowed leadership to observe them utilizing sound judgement and outside-the-box thinking to overcome the obstacles at hand.
Upon completing the Final Battle Problem, leadership deemed it a success based on the smiles seen on Sailors faces throughout the ship.
“For me, it was a blast because I was a player and not an assessor,” Hill said. I was able to role play being the commanding officer during one of the most challenging threat scenarios we could come up with. I certainly made my own mistakes and learned from them.”
As Arlington leaders debrief the event, they plan to utilize the lessons learned for training opportunities throughout the summer as they work through the integrated phase of deployment training.
In integrated phase, the Arlington will begin training with the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and other ships attached to the amphibious ready group as well as Marine Expeditionary Units. Training evolutions will become larger and more complex as Arlington progresses through each phase leading up to deployment.