control systems. The largest difference in our operations is due to the incorporation of the Mark VI patrol
boat into the force, enabling longer-range patrol and
security operations in the littorals.
The Mark VI patrol boat has been deployed
for more than a year now. What is your
assessment of its performance so far?
CEPEK: So far it has gone pretty well. It is a relatively
new capability, and we’re not just
employing the Mark VI as envisioned. The crews and the task force
commanders are further developing
their capabilities as we gain experience and time with them when they
operate forward. Whether they are
escorts for high-value units, operating with the expeditionary MCM
forces, or part of the CNO’s [chief
of naval operations’] distributed
lethality concepts, they are performing admirably out there.
What accomplishments would
you highlight in littoral and
brown water ops in the last
year or so, and what are you
looking forward to in that
area in 2017 and beyond?
CEPEK: Operational employment of the Mark VI patrol boat
at forward locations in support
of Central Command and Pacific
Command operations is a highlight
of this past year. We look forward
to continuing to demonstrate and
develop the capabilities of the Mark
VI craft and crews.
Is the coastal command
boat still deployed?
CEPEK: It certainly is. The coastal
command boat is very similar to
the Mark VI. Both by the same
company, just a little bit smaller.
It really was the prototype for the
Mark VI. Even though the Mark VI
is new, we’ve had the coastal command boat out there for a while
and learned a lot from it to help
inform how we train and operate
on the Mark VI.
The Navy is looking at developing a new
patrol boat design in the Future Years Defense
Program. As a group commander, have you
been consulted on what the requirements
of the future patrol boat should be?
CEPEK: We certainly have. Like any Navy program,
we’ve been able to provide input into that process so
that the acquisition community has a good input from
the operators. n