This week marked the at sea portion of the War of 1812 celebrations as Sailors serving on 19 ships from eight countries participated in the War of 1812 Commemoration Fleet Exercise, or 1812 FleetEx.
The War of 1812 transformed the maritime world and was the last major war fought under sail, said Kesselring. It is also when the U.S. established many of its lasting naval partnerships.
“[The United States] didn’t have a big Navy when [the War of 1812] started, but during the war, we decided as a nation that the Navy was important to U.S. sovereignty,” said Cmdr. Mark Kesselring, surface operations officer for Commander, Carrier Strike Group 10. “It was an important turning point for our nation.
“A lot of America’s allies and partners are celebrating that 200 year ago, America found its feet in the Navy,” said Kesselring. “They’re participating ashore and this [FleetEx] is the one time we’re out together operating at sea which is always great as a Navy.”
Including ships from the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, and Canada, the 1812 FleetEx, like other fleet exercises, is instrumental to building proper communications and relationships said Rear Adm. Scott Craig, commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic, officer in charge of 1812 Fleet Exercise.
“The purpose of this exercise is to commemorate the War of 1812, but this one also gives all of the navies an opportunity to come to sea, exercise our tactics, operate together and figure out how we can be more interoperable,” said Craig.
Participating in joint exercises brings its own challenges, so it is imperative that allies come together as often as possible to find those issues in a safe environment.
“With your foreign partners, there’s language, of course, but there are also systems and the systems aren’t always interoperable, so the more often we can get together and exercise as navies, the better we can find out what those problems are and address them so we can work together better,” said Kesselring.
Craig said the biggest benefit of bringing these forces together is learning how everyone operates across all of our various missions from live-fire exercises and maritime interdiction boardings to anti-submarine warfare and air defense exercises.
“It really helps us pull together,” said Craig. “We become even closer as we conduct operations, we understand how each other operates and we’re able to build relationships very, very quickly and those relationships will last for a long, long time.”
The 1812 FleetEx is a weeklong, multinational exercise designed to increase interoperability with allied nations, improve tactical prowess and certification of participating units. It will continue until June 28 when many of the ships will pull in for Fleet Week Boston and the Commemoration of the War of 1812 bicentennial.