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3rd fleet shifts command hub to Hawaii for Large Scale Exercise

By Jake Thomas
3rd fleet shifts command hub to Hawaii for Large Scale Exercise
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Anelis Ortiz fires a .50-caliber machine gun during a live-fire qualification event in August aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, which is taking part in Large Scale Exercise 2021 this month. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gwyneth Vandevender/U.S. Navy

Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. 3rd Fleet has moved its headquarters from San Diego to tents in Hawaii to serve as the tactical nerve center for a globally integrated naval exercise.

The fleet's move last week to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is in support of the Navy's Large Scale Exercise 2021, the Navy said this week.

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The training exercise kicked off last week across multiple fleets and is meant to fine-tune synchronized maritime operations in preparation of possible battle problems and scenarios, according to a U.S. Navy press release.

The 3rd Fleet, which operates naval forces in the Indo-Pacific, raised tents and outfitted needed facilities for its expeditionary maritime operations center in about three days with help from the Joint Mobile Ashore Support Team Pacific, according to a U.S. Navy statement that announced the move on Monday.

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"We go where the fight takes us, and we maintain the warfighting advantage through our ability to solve problems and innovate in the middle of that fight," U.S. 3rd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Steve Koehler said in a press release.

"We can do that from a tent ashore, a ship in the Pacific, or anywhere else there is a need," Kohler said.

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Koehler said that the scale of the maritime training event was unprecedented, Stars and Stripes reported.

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"When you're looking across the large-scale naval exercise here that we're doing, certainly in my 35 years this is the first of a kind where we are bringing in all of the naval forces together, synchronized across the whole Navy, in the meetings that we're having all day long across these 17 time zones," he said.

However, he was tight-lipped about the exercise's possible scenarios and locations, the paper reported.

The U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Navy Forces Europe will also participate in the training, which continues through Aug. 16, in their areas of responsibility.

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Last year's event, which was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the first to incorporate information warfare and unmanned technology.

Earlier in the week, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived in Hawaii Islands Operating Area to join the Large Scale Exercise.

USS Carl Vinson Carrier Air Wing 2 includes the U.S. Navy's newest advanced F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and the carrier onboard aircraft CMV-22 Osprey, USNI reported. Both include some of the Navy's newest sensors and weapons systems.

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The command center includes computers, phone lines, conference screens, as well as other information and communication equipment that'll allow it to continue to serve as both the fleet's headquarters for its daily functions as well as the Large Scale Exercise.

The fleet controls more than a dozen ships and submarines, and three expeditionary forces, that'll support the exercise.

The exercise will include approximately 36 live units, such as aircraft carriers and submarines. Also included are 50 virtual units and "an unlimited array of constructive, or computer-generated, units," according to the Navy.

The event will be used to "assess and modernize warfare concepts, including distributed maritime operations, expeditionary advanced base operations, and littoral operations in a contested environment," the press release said.

The exercise is expected to become a triennial exercise that'll include partners and allies from around the world in future events.

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