By Sgt. Kenneth N. Ehrhardt, 53rd Signal Battalion (SATCON)September 18, 2013
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- Delta Company, 53rd Signal Battalion (Satellite Control) is a unique strategic unit designed to provide command and control capabilities for the Army's newest military satellite communication constellation, Wideband Global Satellite.
Delta Company is also the only command and control facility worldwide that supports a multi-national working force. Delta Company has a team of 10 Australian military personnel, from all services, embedded in the working environment. This unique working relationship has enabled both U.S. and Australian forces to learn from each other's skill sets, as well as integrate different walks of life to create a well-oiled and highly proficient team of satellite controllers.
The services provided by the 53rd Signal Bn. historically have been for U.S. forces alone, but within recent years, allied forces have opted to start using the constellation. To get a better understanding of what the Australian military requires, Delta Company went on a tour of the HMAS Perth (FFH 157).
The HMAS Perth was the last Anzac-class frigate produced, and now serves as the Royal Australian Navy's main line of naval defense. The HMAS Perth, currently commanded by Capt. Lee Goddard, has a rich history of battle honors and has served valiantly in many major conflicts.
The purpose of the trip was to get an understanding of how Delta Company could better support and facilitate the needs of the naval users on the ground. The satellite control mission not only supports the required command and control element that the captain requires to make effective battle decisions, but the mission also helps to improve the quality of life for the sailors while underway.
The Royal Australian Navy employs the Maritime Advanced SATCOM Terrestrial Infrastructure System terminal. The terminal is capable of multi-band transmit and receives and provides the command and control element vital to the captain. The terminal also provides some creature comforts to the sailors aboard. The sailors have three television channels and services that allow sailors to stay in contact with family and friends back home via social media websites, e-mail and video teleconferencing.
The Soldiers on the tour asked many questions to familiarize themselves with the equipment used on board; one Soldier was so inquisitive, that the chief of Engineering and Integration Wideband Systems, Travis J. Inghram, nicknamed him "20 Questions."
During the tour, Soldiers were able to get an idea of daily life aboard the vessel. From duty to recreation there is not much personal time or space aboard the ship. The ship has several commodities aboard that some may take for granted.
There is a gym, recreation area, basketball hoop, and several other comforts that help the sailors enjoy their off time while underway. While on the ship, Soldiers dined in the mess hall and visited with the sailors stationed aboard.
The galley offered a sandwich station with a selection of many cold meats as well as a fully stocked salad bar.
Sgt. Mark Proctor, from Delta Company, said he thoroughly enjoyed the lunch. "The best part of the tour was the potato salad," he added.
The captain and crew of the HMAS Perth run a very tight ship; the professionalism of the sailors was a true credit to the Royal Australian Navy and to the Australian people.