Grandson of area residents does battle with submarines

From Staff Reports

   How does one hunt a target that is naturally fast, quiet, lethal, and thousands of feet underwater? USS Dewart (FFG 45) has been the answer to that question for 20 years. The guided missile frigate recently deployed off the coast of Florida to conduct training for prospective commanding officers (PCOs) of submarines to instruct them on how to thwart threats to the submarines they will soon command.
   One member of the team is Petty Officer 1st Class Craig Pierce, grandson of Ardith Pierce, Elizabethton, and the late Hubert Pierce, and Lloyd Carden, Elizabethton, and the late Estelee Carden.
   Every sailor on board holds a position that impacts the training mission, either directly or indirectly. Pierce, a master at arms, is especially essential to the ship's war fighting capability.
   "I am the ship's police officer. I handle all the law enforcement issues that arise as well as acting as a liaison with civilian authorities. I am also the assistant force protection officer. My duties are to coordinate efforts to protect the ship while in port," said Pierce, son of Ron and Mary Pierce of Jacksonville, Fla.
   The mission was successful, as the Dewart crew scored two hits against the submarine, a rare feat because submarines are more maneuverable underwater than surface ships are on the water. This maneuverability, coupled with the design of submarines to run as quietly as possible, makes them a very challenging target to detect.
   "This training is valuable for us in the respect that it gives us the opportunity to flex our anti-submarine warfare assets. We don't get the time or the means to test and use our ASW skills that often, and it's mostly as simulations, so when we get to play with a real sub it can be exciting," said Pierce.
   Because the crew of USS Dewart managed not only to carry out their mission of training PCOs, but also to accomplish the rare feat of scoring two hits on the submarine, is a testament to the professionalism of these sailors.