The Chief of Naval Operations expects results from studies on future fleet design and future force structures to arrive by the July-August timeframe.
Adm. John Richardson said Monday these study results could be used to improve the use of smaller ships in security as not every problem can be solved by a carrier strike group or a DDG. To help solve this dilemma, Richardson said the Navy created its Pacific Surface Action Group (PSAG), a fleet structure that will conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability, according to the Navy.
Richardson said the PSAG features three ships with a little different command and control (C2) structure and is commanded by the 3rd Fleet. The Navy said 3rd Fleet ships, aircraft and submarines operate regularly and routinely throughout the Western Pacific in accordance with international law. But unlike previous deployments of 3rd Fleet units, the 3rd Fleet commander will maintain operational control for the entirety of the PSAG deployment as part of a new Pacific Fleet initiative called 3rd Fleet Forward.
By maintaining operational control, the 3rd Fleet commander will direct ship movements and activities. This will provide more operational flexibility to the combatant commander by applying the C2 capabilities of both numbered fleets based on specific missions rather than geographical areas. Deploying as a PSAG allows the three ships to execute a broad range of maritime operations in the 7th Fleet area of operations while under the operational control of the 3rd Fleet. The total PSAG is comprised of the embarked staff of Destroyer Squadron 31, guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG-111), USS Decatur (DDG-73) and USS Momsen (DDG-92) and embarked “Devil Fish” and “Warbirds” detachment of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM)-49.
Richardson also believes trilateral cooperation in the Far East can help reduce the threat of anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) attacks from North Korea. Though he said the proliferation of ASBMs is something the United States will “just have to deal with,” part of the solution is further cooperation by the U.S, South Korea and Japan.
Richardson said he’s seen successful multi-national cooperation across the globe throughout his Navy career achieve such ends like eliminating piracy “for now” in the Horn of Africa. He also downplayed the idea of putting a second aircraft carrier in Subic Bay near the Philippines, citing both the expense and the permission of the host nation to do so. Richardson’s remarks came at a Center for New American Security (CNAS) event in Washington.