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CHIPS Articles: Interview with Vice Adm. Barry M. Costello

Interview with Vice Adm. Barry M. Costello
Commander U.S. 3rd Fleet
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2006
Third Fleet's area of responsibility covers more than 50 million square miles of the Pacific. Its capabilities include more than 35,000 Sailors, 72 naval ships, 32 submarines and 21 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. Third Fleet Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) carriers are: USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) amphibious ships are: USS Tarawa (LHA 1), USS Peleliu (LHA 5), USS Boxer (LHD 4) and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

CHIPS asked Vice Adm. Costello to talk about the 3rd Fleet mission and comment on some of the cutting edge technologies that 3rd Fleet Sailors are using.

CHIPS: What does 3rd Fleet bring to the CNO's Sea Power 21 vision?

Vice Adm. Costello: Third Fleet uses Sea Power 21 as the foundation for the principal domains: Integrated Training, Maritime Homeland Defense (MHLD) and Operational Agent (C3F is the Pillar Lead for Sea Shield).

The Sea Shield responsibility focuses on protecting global defense assurance. The 21st century sets the stage for tremendous increases in naval precision, reach and connectivity, ushering in a new era of joint operational effectiveness. Innovative concepts and technologies will integrate sea, land, air, space and cyberspace to a greater extent than ever before. In this unified battle space, the sea will provide a vast maneuver area from which to project direct and decisive power around the globe.

To realize the opportunities and navigate the challenges ahead, there must be a clear vision of how the Navy will organize, integrate and transform. Sea Power 21 is that vision. It will align efforts, accelerate progress and realize the potential of people. Sea Power 21 will guide the Navy as we defend our nation and defeat enemies in the uncertain century ahead.

The training conducted, experimentation executed and the MHLD efforts each have a positive effect on the Navy's way ahead. Each supports the other and all are interrelated.

CHIPS: In an interview with Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, the admiral talked about the close relationship between the Coast Guard and the Navy.

Vice Adm. Costello: The Third Fleet has an excellent rapport with the U.S. Coast Guard and works very closely with Vice Adm. Johnson. Last May, the Navy and Coast Guard participated in exercises Lead Shield III/Roguex V in Long Beach, Calif.

The purpose of the exercise was to test the port of Long Beach's readiness against a terrorist attack.

The combined exercise involved 24 local, state and federal agencies in an effort to disrupt a simulated terrorist attack, respond to the consequences, and maintain steady port operations.

Another objective of the exercise was to strengthen force protection and homeland defense of seaports and coastal waters. This maritime homeland defense exercise was instrumental in helping fine-tune our anti-terrorism defense program.

Conducting exercises of this nature are invaluable to not only the military but the country as well. The two main components were Lead Shield, which exercises anti-mine warfare capabilities; and Roguex, which focuses on the ability to interdict and secure a rogue vessel.

The series of exercises helped test the Navy and Coast Guard command and control relationship, and coordination in a defense scenario that focused on expanded maritime interdiction operations.

CHIPS: Sea Fighter (FSF 1) is a test platform for the Littoral Combat Ship and is manned with a joint Navy and Coast Guard crew of only 26 personnel. What is Sea Fighter's current role?

Vice Adm. Costello: Sea Fighter is a multi-mission test vessel designed as a proof-of-concept for numerous warfighting capabilities. Sea Fighter might prove useful enough to be the model for a new class of coastal combat ships. The vessel is extremely fast, with a top speed of 50-plus knots an hour.

Even in rough seas (with up to 7-foot waves), the ship can do about 40-plus knots an hour. The ship has a number of capabilities such as a boat dock and a flight deck large enough for two helicopters. The ship overall is designed to test concepts and technologies planned for use in the larger Littoral Combat Ship.

CHIPS: What are some of the advantages of having a mixed crew of Navy and Coast Guard personnel?

Vice Adm. Costello: There are numerous advantages of having a mixed crew of Navy and Coast Guard personnel:

It enhances interoperability and fleet awareness.

It helps strengthen an already strong relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard.

It allows for both services to exchange ideas and knowledge.

The mixed crew adds depth and functionality.

Training, an important ingredient linked to the majority of things that are done in the Navy, is also strengthened as both services benefit from gaining valuable data and experience. This was indicative during last year's Navy and Coast Guard involvement in Exercise Lead Shield III/Roguex V.

CHIPS: Are there any new technologies that you are excited about because of what they can do for the warfighter?

Vice Adm. Costello: That's the best part about the Sea Trial program — it's structured to highlight those innovations that can do the most for the warfighter. Some of the most promising technologies are in unmanned vehicles — air, surface and undersea. They dramatically improve knowledge of the battlespace and speed of command.

Another exciting area is the mission modules for Littoral Combat Ship. The flexibility technology brings to this new class of ship is very promising. Recently, for example, biometrics were tested on board ships to assist in the prosecution of terrorists operating on the sea. It's amazing how the technologies today allow interconnectivity with coalition forces, interagency and local law enforcement.

CHIPS: What is the Spartan Scout?

Vice Adm. Costello: Spartan Scout is an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) currently under development as part of an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration project. This specific USV integrates a 7-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) core command and control system with an integrated sensor and weapon system package, and is envisioned to be a primary force leveler against asymmetric threats.

The general concept for USVs like Spartan Scout is to enable the battle force commander to match asymmetric threats with an appropriate response. Nothing short of impressive, the USV is being evaluated as a force-protection system against asymmetric threats such as small boats, able to rapidly establish the plot of possible threatening craft around the carrier strike group and provide real-time observation of maritime interdiction boardings.

The unprecedented combination of unmanned, high speed, mission-tailored precision sensors and weapons all knitted together by a high-speed network will provide the eyes, ears, situational awareness, and firepower a commander needs to engage and defeat the right targets, with the right effects, at the right time. Spartan Scout typifies the constant thirst for technology and is indicative of the Navy's forward looking vision.

CHIPS: The Swedish submarine HMS Gotland recently participated in a Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) with Third Fleet and the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group off the coast of Southern California. The exercise was an opportunity to enhance overall antisubmarine warfare (ASW) proficiencies and further strengthen the relationship between Sweden and the United States. Was the exercise successful?

Vice Adm. Costello: HMS Gotland is deployed to San Diego to promote interoperability between U.S. and Swedish forces. Gotland played a number of roles during the joint exercise which mutually benefited the U.S. and Swedish navies by enhancing overall anti-submarine warfare proficiencies further strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

With more than 140 quiet diesel submarines in the Asia-Pacific, and the spread of associated platform technologies, it is important for the Navy to maintain preeminence in this area. Having HMS Gotland integrated into training fostered interoperability and enhanced ASW proficiency.

CHIPS: Were you testing new technologies in a coalition environment during JTFEX?

Vice Adm. Costello: JTFEX provides many training opportunities. The exercise involves real-world exercise scenarios that cover the range of Pacific and Middle East maritime operations.

Everything from simulated battle force strike capability to boarding suspicious vessels and, of course, our training incorporates a coalition environment. The Navy continues to look at new technologies and how they can be tested and deployed to the fleet.

CHIPS: What were your objectives in JTFEX?

Vice Adm. Costello: The primary objective in any JTFEX is to provide carrier strike groups (CSGs) or expeditionary strike groups (ESGs) with the necessary training until they attain my 'Certified for Deployment' endorsement. This certification enables these trained and capable forces to forward deploy.

In other words, the C3F staff trains our maritime force, and upon completion of the mandatory exercises, the commanders and their strike groups are certified as 'ready for deployment.' The CSGs/ESGs will be ready to operate in both the Pacific and Middle East depending on the needs of the combatant commanders and the Joint Staff.

CHIPS: Rim of the Pacific involves two weeks of intense multinational war games. Will RIMPAC 2006 test any new technologies?

Vice Adm. Costello: Currently, the C3F staff is preparing for the RIMPAC exercise scheduled this summer off the coast of Hawaii. During this exercise, navies from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Chile, Peru, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom will work with the United States.

RIMPAC is first and foremost a training exercise, but Third Fleet also leverages events to do Sea Trial testing and experimentation. The schedule is not finalized. However, plans to test or experiment with approximately 30 new technologies, including several ASW and Mine Warfare (MIW) systems are being developed for the new LCS class of ship.

To ensure other navies can participate, the Third Fleet staff and the staff at the Commander, Pacific Fleet are developing a Coalition Forces Pacific (CFP) Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) network that will allow maximum collaboration and data exchange with coalition forces during the exercise.

Additionally, there are Sea Trial events planned with other navies that test the integration of coalition systems (technologies) and tactics to ensure maximum efficiency with our coalition partners in real-world operations.

Effective coalition communication is important. Is the same equipment being used, is it the right equipment, are all units participating familiar with the policies and procedures to operate together? These are just a few of the many questions that come to mind.

Effective communication is paramount and cannot be stressed enough. This challenge intensifies with the addition of the warfighting element. The Third Fleet staff has noted these issues, and will effectively incorporate them into all of the scenarios and war games.

Sea Fighter Fact Sheet

The test platform, Sea Fighter (FSF 1), developed by the Office of Naval Research, is homeported in San Diego, Calif., under the operational control of Commander, Third Fleet.

Sea Fighter is used to evaluate the hydrodynamic performance, structural behavior, mission flexibility and propulsion system efficiency of high speed vessels.

Sea Fighter will test mission flexibility with interchangeable "mission modules" (standard 20-foot containers) housed in Sea Fighter's large mission bay. The mission bay can house 12 containers, permitting the vessel to be quickly reconfigured to support a variety of potential missions, including battle force protection, mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious assault support and humanitarian support.

A multi-purpose stern ramp allows Sea Fighter to launch and recover manned and unmanned surface and sub-surface vehicles up to the size of an 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). Sea Fighter can simultaneously operate two MH-60S helicopters from its flight deck.

Sea Fighter provides a platform for the evaluation of minimum manning concepts on future naval surface ships. A base crew of 26 (Navy and U.S. Coast Guard) personnel are responsible for all operations and basic maintenance, requiring a significant shift in the normal levels of manning currently used to accomplish various missions and tasks.

Sea Fighter will also test "paperless" navigation through the use of the Sperry Marine Electronic Chart and Display Information System (ECDIS) and Voyage Management System (VMS). Typically, the ship operates with just three watchstanders and one roving patrol to monitor and configure engineering systems. This reduced manning is supported by a level of automation and sophisticated monitoring of systems and equipment previously absent on U.S. Navy ships.

Sea Fighter conducts exercises in support of risk reduction for the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as an "LCS surrogate."

General Characteristics: Sea Fighter (FSF 1)
Type: Aluminum-hulled, wave-piercing catamaran
Date Deployed: Aug. 1, 2005
Propulsion: Two GE LM2500 Gas Turbine Engines; two MTU 16V 595
TE 90 Propulsion Diesels; four Rolls-Royce 125SII Waterjets
Length: 262 feet (79.9 meters) overall; 240 feet (73 meters) at waterline
Beam: 72 feet (22 meters)
Displacement: 950 tons
Draft: 11.5 feet (3.5 meters)
Speed: 50+ knots
Range: in excess of 4,000 nm @ 20+ knots
- Fact Sheet from the Office of Naval Research
For more information about Commander, U.S. Third Fleet go to http://www.c3f.navy.mil.
Vice Adm. Barry M. Costello
Vice Adm. Barry M. Costello

A modified rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) called “Spartan Scout.” The Spartan Scout was created by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., and will make future unmanned missions for a number of applications. Photo courtesy of Landon Hutchens of Naval Sea Systems Command.
A modified rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) called “Spartan Scout.” The Spartan Scout was created by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., and will make future unmanned missions for a number of applications. Photo courtesy of Landon Hutchens of Naval Sea Systems Command.

The U.S. Navy’s test platform Sea Fighter (FSF 1), developed by the Office of Naval Research, arrives at her new homeport of San Diego, Calif., Aug. 1, 2005. This high-speed aluminum catamaran will test a variety of technologies that will allow the Navy to operate in littoral waters. With a base crew of 26, Sea Fighter will also provide a platform for the evaluation of minimum manning concepts on future naval surface ships. U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams
The U.S. Navy’s test platform Sea Fighter (FSF 1), developed by the Office of Naval Research, arrives at her new homeport of San Diego, Calif., Aug. 1, 2005. This high-speed aluminum catamaran will test a variety of technologies that will allow the Navy to operate in littoral waters. With a base crew of 26, Sea Fighter will also provide a platform for the evaluation of minimum manning concepts on future naval surface ships. U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams
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