Home Americas US Navy trials vertical launch system re-arming “on the go”

US Navy trials vertical launch system re-arming “on the go”

VLS reload from sea
Sailors aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) guide training ordnance into the ship’s forward vertical launch system (VLS) cells during a proof-of-concept evolution in San Diego, Oct. 4. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy demonstrated re-arming the vertical launch system aboard Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) over a four-day event at Naval Air Station North Island and in the San Diego Harbor earlier this month.

This was the first time the Navy tested VLS reloading from an offshore support vessel platform, using Military Sealift Command fleet experimentation ship MV Ocean Valor.

The demonstration is being conducted to provide proof of concept that an offshore support vessel can reload the weapons system pierside and while the ship is at sea, with a goal of expanding the capability of VLS reloading in expeditionary environments.

The service said it previously tested the launch system re-load in 2016 and 2019, using other Military Sealift Command platforms, as part of its efforts to break away from the requirement to reload the cells in a port.

The MK 41, which has been in service with the navy since 1986, is installed aboard US Navy surface combatants including Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers (CG 47), Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and allied navy platforms. The system is capable of launching multiple Standard Missile variants, Tomahawk, Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.

This week’s demonstration did not include live ordnance, the navy said, adding there was no danger posed to the residents of San Diego, the harbor or sea life.

Spruance, named for Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, who commanded US forces at the Battle of Midway, is homeported in San Diego. The ship returned to the Naval Base San Diego in August following a seven-month deployment with Carrier Strike Group 3 to the US 3rd and 7th Fleets. Spruance was also one of 38 ships from 26 partner nations who took part in Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2022 in the Hawaiian Islands Operating Area from June to August.

Built in 2002, MV Ocean Valor is an MSC-contracted vessel that supports logistics experimentation for fuel, stores, passengers and ordnance delivery.