USS Cole, USS Gravely Take on Black Widow, Large-Scale Exercise 2021
13 August 2021
The Sailors of USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Gravely (DDG 107) have been very busy in the Atlantic lately, supporting two major exercises and honing their skills in multiple areas of maritime operations and tactics.
Both Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers recently participated in Black Widow, an annual undersea warfare exercise that incorporates Navy aircraft, surface ships, and submarines to improve unique undersea warfighting capabilities and tactics.
According to Cmdr. Vincent Libasci, commanding officer, USS Cole, Black Widow has provided an important opportunity to rehearse tactical efficiency in undersea warfare during this era of strategic competition.
“It is our job to train like we fight, and strive for growth and innovation within the undersea warfare domain,” said Libasci. “Our strategic competitors are expanding their military presence in the Atlantic, so our crew is renewing our focus on homeland defense capability and capacity. Both Black Widow and LSE give us that chance.”
The ships are also participating in the Navy’s Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021, designed to assess and refine modern warfare concepts, from the operational level to the tactical, in multi-domain and contested environments. These include Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations and Littoral Operations, which are critical to the U.S. and partners in order to maintain peace, security and stability around the globe.
“USS Cole and USS Gravely coordinated with a Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Seven Two (HSM) 72 detachment, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) Eleven P-8 Poseidons and our submarines as a cohesive force while validating the latest technologies and tactics during Black Widow, then applied them during challenging LSE scenarios,” said Capt. Matt Kawas, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2. “The extensive research and development by tactical and technical commands, coupled with the expertise and warrior spirit of our all-domain forces, have maintained the Navy’s competitive advantage, and assured freedom of operations throughout the Atlantic.”
LSE 2021 included dozens of live ships underway ranging from aircraft carriers to submarines, dozens of virtual units, and an unlimited array of constructive units, in addition to the Sailors, Marines, government civilians and contract employees assigned to command and training staffs providing support to the exercise. Participating units span 17 time zones to include six naval and Marine Corps component commands, five U.S. numbered fleets, and three Marine expeditionary forces.
“Being able to participate in both Black Widow and LSE has provided us a unique opportunity to test our crew’s skills in a variety of wartime scenarios and situations,” said Cmdr. Corey Odom, commanding officer, USS Gravely. “The exercises provide us an opportunity to validate new technologies and refine undersea warfare tactics. Additionally, these exercises demonstrate our Navy’s ability to conduct operations around the globe across the full-spectrum of military operations by maintaining sea control and power projection.”
Over the past 10 years, the Navy and Marine Corps have conducted numerous major exercises in the Europe, Atlantic and Pacific theaters, which have grown in scope and complexity in a testament to sustained U.S. commitment to maritime security globally.
“Black Widow and LSE, through the power of live, virtual, and constructive training, pushed the boundaries on how we exercise our Naval forces to be ready to fight-- from the seabed to space,” said commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Adm. Christopher W. Grady. “Through our execution of Distributed Maritime Operations, we were able to mass effects, not forces, and tested a full spectrum of options for employing sensors, platforms and weapons.”
Both the Black Widow and LSE 2021 exercises merged live and synthetic training capabilities to create intense, robust training environments to build knowledge and skills needed for Sailors and Marines to operate in today’s complex, multi-domain, and contested environment.
“More than ever, we must think, adapt, and maneuver faster than our strategic competitors; we must not accept old ways of thinking when it comes to globally integrating and operating our naval forces across fleets,” said Grady. “I have no doubt that innovative and forward-leaning exercises, like Black Widow and LSE, reinforced our culture of learning and sharpened our operational skills to ensure that we remain the most lethal Navy in the world.”
For more information on LSE 2021, please visit: