The U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) and the expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) has conducted a brief crew swap between the two ships on Jan. 20, 2018.
Approximately 20 Sailors from each ship participated in the exchange, in an effort to educate and inform crew members and improve mission readiness.
“Visiting other platforms allows Sailors the unique opportunity of experiencing what life is like on the other ships we are sailing with,” said Lt. j.g. Justin Villasenor, combat acoustics officer aboard Preble. “It also gives the crews a chance to demonstrate how the ships operate on a day-to-day basis.”
Puller, which was redesignated from USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB3) to a commissioned a warship in August of 2017, stages personnel and equipment in support of diverse missions including humanitarian aid and disaster relief, crisis response, airborne mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations.
As an expeditionary sea base platform, ESB 3 can support a variety of low intensity missions, thereby allowing amphibious warships and surface combatant ships to conduct other operational missions.
While aboard Preble, Puller Sailors toured the ship and received training on various mission areas practiced by the destroyer.
“We’re here on Preble to receive initial certifications or requalification for the handling and storage of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Michael W. Rogers, a Sailor assigned to Puller. “The purpose of this visit is to improve Puller’s future capabilities and mission readiness.”
In exchange, Preble Sailors had the opportunity to tour Puller, which is currently the only ship of its kind in the fleet.
“A group of our engineers went to Puller to see their engineering spaces along with the rest of the ship,” said Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Stephanie Gomez, a Sailor assigned to Preble. “Everything about their spaces is so different than what we have, from their work centers to their living spaces.”
Gomez added that although they work on a much larger platform, the crew of Puller is about half the size of Preble’s, giving them larger living spaces and community areas.
Outside the skin of the ship, Puller’s mission capabilities are vastly different than that of Preble’s.
With approximately 82,000 square feet of mission deck space below a 50,000 square foot flight deck, Puller is able to house two MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters or one MV-22 Oprey, as well as several other rotor and fixed wing aircraft.
“Puller’s mission deck has a modular design, giving them the ability to on load shipping containers set up with different equipment such as medical supplies, living and work spaces for a Marine Corps detachment or UAV (Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle) operations,” said Lt. Andrew B. Shea, a pilot assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, currently embarked upon Preble. “It’s really a blank canvas capable of meeting whatever mission they face at the time.”
Shea said that in the last few months alone the ship has facilitated landings for roughly 16 different type of aircraft, including the MH-60R Sea Hawks embarked on Preble.
“Along with our primary mission of providing coverage for Puller, we’ve also had the chance to fly a few vertical replenishment flights, delivering parts and cargo, as well as conduct deck landing qualifications,” said Shea.
Preble has been patrolling the Arabian Sea alongside Puller since early January and continues its operations in the region.
Preble is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR with the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, the flagship of CSG 9, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), and guided-missile destroyers USS Halsey (DDG 97) and USS Sampson (DDG 102). The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) deployment is an example of the U.S. Navy’s routine presence in waters around the globe, displaying commitment to stability, regional cooperation and economic prosperity for all nations.
Preble departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a regularly scheduled deployment, Oct. 16, to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
MC3 Morgan K. Nall, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group