USS Wasp to deploy for the first time since 2004

Posted at 12:43 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 05:57:23-04

Norfolk, Va. – For various reasons, the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp has not deployed since 2004. But the ship and her crew are now set for a summer 2016 deployment after a highly successful combat systems ship qualification trial (CSSQT).

“The last two years have been all about maintenance, including time in dry dock,” Capt. Kurt Kastner, Wasp commanding officer said in a release. “Many of the crew have never been underway in Wasp. We have a newly installed combat system and ship’s network that will take the crew some time to train on. We also have a very compressed schedule with basic phase events, flag officer high interest port visits, and the joint strike fighter operational testing. Any one of those issues alone would be challenging, but we have to face all of them.”

The USS Wasp (U.S. Navy file photo)

The USS Wasp (U.S. Navy file photo)

The purpose of CSSQT is “to verify and validate that an individual ship’s combat and weapon systems have been installed correctly and can be operated and maintained in a safe and effective manner.”

The Wasp passed each test with flying colors.

The first phase of CSSQT ran from January 12 through February 6. During the first phase, Wasp focused on in port maintenance, as well as training the combat systems crew with the battle force tactical trainer (BFTT). The BFTT wraps around the ship’s combat system and simulates actual combat scenarios to train the operators on the ship’s defense systems.

The second phase of CSSQT was where Wasp’s Sailors truly got their hands dirty. This phase, which ran Feb. 17-20, included a tracking exercise in which Wasp tested her air detect, track and engage capabilities, and a gun exercise in which her close-in weapons systems (CIWS) were tested.

This past week, it was show time as the Wasp broke out the big guns.

In order to show she was ready for prime time, Wasp had to engage a minimum of one surface target with each of her CIWS mounts and MK 38 25mm gun mounts, in order to qualify in surface


Also, Wasp had to successfully fire a minimum of one RIM-7 NATO Sea Sparrow missile and one Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) from each of her launchers to fully qualify in air defense.

As a result of these successful engagements, Wasp was found fully mission capable in combat systems operations.

“Shooting missiles on an amphib ship is not something we do often, so to see four in one day is awesome,” said Kastner. “Seeing missiles launch and hit their targets proves our combat system is reliable.”

Wasp is scheduled to undergo flight deck qualifications for the remainder of her current underway, and she is scheduled for well deck qualifications during her next underway, all of which will set Wasp in motion for a 2016 Marine Expeditionary Unit/Amphibious Ready Group deployment, the first in over a decade.

“It’s our duty and privilege to return Wasp to fighting condition and prepare the ship for the upcoming deployment,” said Kastner. “From what I have witnessed and experienced on the deck plates, this crew is up to the task. The crew onboard now had nothing to do with decisions that were made ten years – or longer – ago that took Wasp out of the deployment rotation. We are now the ones who will bring the ship back into the rotation and we are scheduled to deploy in the summer of 2016. It’s going to happen.”