NATO Nations Hone ASW Skills in Cutlass Fury

September 24, 2019 – NATO nations in the Royal Canadian Navy-led exercise Cutlass Fury 2019 recently executed advanced training in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) in the waters off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) is particpating, along with ships, submarines, aircraft and helicopters from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Denmark.

“Cutlass Fury has been designed to provide advanced training opportunities for Canada and our Allies and partners,” said Commodore Rich Feltham, commander, Canadian Fleet Atlantic. “Together it will allow us to build upon our readiness and ability to respond to any crisis in our waters or overseas, all while enhancing our relationships with key partners.”

Training in ASW is a crucial aspect to maintaining the collective defense of NATO Allies and ensuring the Alliance stays up-to-date with current technology, tactics, and procedures. While each nation has anti-submarine capabilities, coming together under one exercise offers a unique opportunity to learn from each other and practice the ability to quickly integrate forces to successfully deter aggression.

“Cutlass Fury has been an excellent opportunity for NATO Allies to demonstrate their flexibility, readiness and the ability of maritime forces to quickly integrate into a multi-national task force, which is a key element to the Alliance’s ability to respond quickly when called upon,” said Rear Adm. Edward Cashman, commander, SNMG1. “Anti-submarine warfare is only one facet of NATO’s maritime capabilities, but it remains one of the most important. Training in a complex scenario such as the one created here in CUTLASS FURY is critical to maintaining those capabilities. It also demonstrates our commitment to the security of the North Atlantic as the strategic bridge that connects us and gives the Alliance its name.”

While Cutlass Fury is a Canadian-led multinational exercise, the personnel who make up the staff of SNMG1 aboard the U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) come from a number of NATO nations. Spanish Navy Lt. Cmdr. Felipe de Castro, SNMG1’s staff anti-submarine warfare officer is noted the importance of interoperability and integration to successfully conduct joint exercises in an ever-changing maritime environment.

“It has been very enriching to work with experienced specialists in anti-submarine warfare from other countries,” Castro said. “Although we work within the same base procedures, we have different perspectives when it comes time to make a decision and take action. Exchanging points of view in the different aspects of ASW is the beginning of the lessons-learned process, which leads to developing better procedures, exercising with more safety and achieving total interoperability.”

Castro is not the only experienced ASW specialist who has learned invaluable information from Cutlass Fury 2019. U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Kelsey Hicks, Gridley’s anti-submarine warfare officer, also expressed the vital importance of working together in a joint environment.

“We have learned that communication is key with our allies,” said Hicks. “Understanding how they want to execute maneuvers vice what we would have done independently has broadened our application of tracking techniques. Tracking live submarines gives our Sailors the real life experience needed for future operations. Being able to participate in exercises enhances the skills they have learned and is very rewarding for when we gain contact.”

Cutlass Fury is designed to be a biennial, medium-scale exercise off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, with the purpose of unifying Canada’s Atlantic Fleet, Allied navies and other joint elements in tactical-level warfare.

SNMG1 is one of four standing maritime task groups composed of ships from various Allied countries. These task groups form the core maritime capabilities of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). They provide a continuous maritime capability to execute NATO missions across the spectrum of operations, demonstrate solidarity, and strengthen diplomatic and professional links among Allied naval forces.

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