Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lauryn Cooper
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo

Destroyer Squadron 21 (DESRON 21), is embarked aboard Stennis and has played an active role in the Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and the Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX). Currently, DESRON 21 is training to protect John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG).

DESRON 21 is the immediate superior in command for escort destroyers. DESRON 21 is made up of four destroyers; USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105) and USS Wayne E. Meyer. This command ensures training, manning and tasking readiness for JCSCSG, in addition to protecting and defending the strike group at sea.

“Training is important to make sure in a wartime situation the destroyers or any other ships that are in our DESRON have control and are proficient at killing enemy targets,” said Yeoman First Class (SW) Jodi Salazar. “We control the destroyers, so without us, there would be no one to protect the carrier.”

JTFEX tested DESRON 21 on their ability to perform strike warfare and anti-submarine warfare in a joint forces environment.

“Every theatre has a different combination of threats, whether that is surface or subsurface,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Smidt, DESRON 21’s staff director. “We train to repair, defend and carry out operations for the strike group from a variety of threats.”

DESRON 21 is training to establish sea control and to gain freedom of operations in preparation for the upcoming deployment to 7th and 5th Fleet.

“During operations in 5th Fleet, we’ll be supervising and managing a lot of the maritime support operations that are going on. We help with anti-piracy operations, when visiting other ships and maritime infrastructure protection,” said Smidt. “In 7th fleet we’ll be supporting exercises and conducting port visits on behalf of 7th fleet.”

Together, Stennis and DESRON 21 ensure fleet readiness and support the Navy’s maritime strategy.