I’m originally from San Diego. It’s probably unique in a Navy officer to be serving in
San Diego and actually be from here. I have
family in the Navy, and my mother was also
a Navy officer so I grew up around the Navy
and the lifestyle. I think it’s just something I
always knew I wanted to do.
I wanted to serve my country, serve the community,
and I thought being a Navy officer was the best way
to do that. I completed my undergraduate education
at San Diego State University and applied for Officer
Candidate School [OCS] as soon as I graduated, got
accepted and went to my first ship right after OCS.
My first ship was USS Tarawa. That was my first
taste of Navy life, of the travel, the experience, working within the international community, and I think
that fueled my desire to keep going.
I was the navigator with USS Dubuque. Following
that tour, I went ashore and spent two years at U.S.
PACOM [Pacific Command] in Hawaii, which was a
fantastic experience. It was completely joint; I was one
of the only Navy officers within the directorate that I
was working in. It was quite a broadening experience.
I taught Navy Planning Process and Marine Corps
Planning Process at Expeditionary Warfare Training
Group Pacific here in San Diego. From there, I went
to department head school in Newport, R.I., and then
reported to [the littoral combat ship] Coronado as the
combat systems officer (CSO).
One of the exciting things about doing a department
head tour on the LCS is we are essentially trailblazing.
As the first LCS 2 variant [Independence-variant] to
deploy in the Seventh Fleet AOR [area of responsibility], we were setting the standards and making the
doctrine that other crews will follow.
It was a challenging, exhilarating and certainly pro-
fessionally enhancing experience. As the CSO, I was in
charge of all of the weapon systems — our air defense
system (SeaRAM); the main battery (Mk 110 Gun
Weapon System); and all of the crew-served mounts.
I owned all of the radar systems, Anti-Terrorism/
Force Protection and the IT infrastructure on the ship.
I learned an immense amount because of the scope of
the responsibility I had.
One of the big highlights for me, as CSO, was being
the tactical action officer for our Harpoon structural
test fire. For about two and a half months prior to that,
the big focus of my job was going over firing-point
procedures and practicing and learning all of the ins
and outs of the Harpoon OTH [over-the-horizon] system installed on an LCS for the very first time. Being
the one to organize that and seeing the missile leave
the ship was a real exciting experience.
Throughout my career, I have tried to get as much
international experience as I could. I pursued a graduate
degree in international relations because of my experiences during my division officer tours, where I operated
mostly in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. I think that
is also one of the reasons I was drawn to this program.
LCS is deployed to the Seventh Fleet AOR and interacts with Pacific nations and operates in those regions to
include the South China Sea. There are so many interesting things happening in that part of the world and it has
truly been an exciting experience to be part of it.
Following my tour as CSO, I will fleet up to the
Operations Officer position with LCS. I would love to
command an LCS in the future where I hope to con-
tinue to contribute to the success of the program. n
Lt. Leigh Tate
COMBAT SYSTEM OFFICER
USS CORONADO (LCS 4)
IN MY OWN WORDS
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 48 SEAPOWER JUNE 2017