The Navy formally established the Commander, Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (CNSG WP) in Japan to oversee surface ship maintenance and certification of forward deployed naval forces in Japan (FDNF-J), the service said on Tuesday.
CNSG WP succeeds the interim Detachment, Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, established last October. It was meant to help balance maintenance, training requirements, and operations but has now become an official permanent command as of April 11.
Adm. Scott Swift, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (CPF), established the Detachment Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (Det NSWGP) last fall in the wake of the summer 2017 deadly collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain) (DDG-56). The detachment was created as an interim detachment under U.S. Pacific Fleet with the authority to determine if a ship is ready for operations (Defense Daily, Nov. 2, 2017).
At the time, Swift said the detachment’s purpose was to address an organizational gap in FDNF-J that allowed a culture to grow myopically focused on operations to the detriment of readiness” and “consolidate authorities to oversee the training and certification of surface ships forward deployed to Japan.”
The establishment of Naval Surface Group Western Pacific was originally recommended by the Navy’s Comprehensive Review, led by Adm. Phil Davidson as head of U.S. Fleet Forces. It recommended the group would help introduce greater independence in readiness assessments.
The Secretary of the Navy and his Strategic Readiness Review (SRR) particularly disagreed with the establishment of Naval Surface Group Western Pacific as another unnecessary oversight layer. The SRR said there are already organizational structures in place within the type commander staff at CNSP and that “standing up an additional oversight layer provides another headquarters staff and administrative control function that is likely to perpetuate ambiguous and conflicting authorities” (Defense Daily, Dec. 14, 2017).
The Navy said CNSG WP will serve as the executive agent responsible to oversee surface ship maintenance and training for Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP). It will specifically manage ship activities falling under maintenance and basic phases, enforce the readiness assessment and certification process within the phases, and coordinate with the ship’s operational commander until a ship is certified Basic Phase Complete (BPC) by CNSP.
CNSP WP is being led by Capt. Rich Dromerhauser, who reports to CNSP, Vice Adm Rich Brown. Dromerhauser has led the group since its previous iteration as Det NSWGP.
The Navy said Dromerhauser’s job is to ensure every Forward Deployed Naval Force Japan (FDNF-J) ship gets the training and maintenance needed before recommending to the CNSP a ship is ready to proceed or needs extra training.
Under this process, the CNSP will then submit a message to the commander of the 7th Fleet that a ship is certified BPC and is ready for “operational tasking.”
The Navy underscored a prime goal of the organization is to “provide a standard, predictable path for every FDNF-J ship to accomplish, protect, and synchronize maintenance and training to meet operational commitments.”
“My team will be focused on enabling ships to achieve certified levels of readiness and a demonstrated ability to safely conduct operations at sea after extended periods of maintenance and modernization efforts,” Dromerhauser added in a statement.
“Rebuilding readiness is my top priority. CNSG WP is one critical step in the process,” Brown said.
“Establishment of CNSG WP is an important step in providing the needed oversight of training and readiness production in FDNF-J. The success of the Surface Force is measured by properly manned, tactically trained and effectively equipped ships ready to provide Fleet Commanders with combat naval power at sea and to project that power ashore,” he added.
The Navy noted CNSP is also implementing other initiatives to improve the surface fleet’s safety and readiness as well as addressing issues identified in the Comprehensive Review. This includes increasing ship handling simulator training during the basic and advanced division officer courses, mariner assessments during the prospective commanding officer course, adding a junior officer of the deck course and bridge resource management workshops, and additional officer of the deck classroom and simulator training.