Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Mexico (SSN 779)

The Navy took delivery of its newest attack submarine, PCU New Mexico (SSN 779), from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) Dec. 29, four months earlier than its contract delivery date. New Mexico is the sixth Virginia-class submarine and the third delivered by NGSB.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HMCS Fredericton Renders Assistance to Freed Container Ship, MV Kota Wajar, Off the Somali Coast

SOMALI BASIN, INDIAN OCEAN--(Marketwire - Dec. 28, 2009) - Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Fredericton rendered assistance to the Motor Vessel (MV) KOTA WAJAR off the Somali coast this afternoon after almost two and a half months captive by Somali pirates.

At 1:13 p.m. local time (5:13 a.m. EST), HMCS Fredericton received information that the ransom for the MV KOTA WAJAR had been paid to the pirates onboard the ship and that it would be soon released from captivity. HMCS Fredericton, as the closest NATO or Coalition warship to the MV, was ordered to close the vessels position and render what medical and technical assistance she could to help the crew commence their journey away from their captors.

"It was very fortunate that we were in close proximity to the KOTA WAJAR and able to act as fast as we could to provide them assistance as they cleared Somali waters" said Commander Steve Waddell, Commanding Officer of HMCS Fredericton. "As my team prepared for the mission, it helped to understand the plight that this crew just endured and that we could offer just a little bit of humanity to them."

Once the Motor Vessel's Captain requested assistance, Fredericton's Naval Boarding Party assembled their experts, including a medical specialist, and headed towards the vessel. "We didn't know what to expect, whether there were remaining pirates onboard, what condition the crew was or how we would be perceived" indicated the Naval Boarding Party Officer. But we are trained for these scenarios and take every precaution to ensure the team's and the Motor Vessel's crew's safety."

Once onboard, the Naval Boarding Party conducted a security sweep and verified that all the pirates had left. The medical specialist then assessed all 21 crew members onboard and declared them in good health. With the vessel physically and technically able to sail to a safe port of call, the Naval Boarding Party provided the crew with fresh food and bottled water and departed the vessel.

Said Cmdr Waddell "If anyone ever needed a reason to understand why Fredericton is here, it was made clear today with this vessel - no law abiding sailor should ever have to endure what these men have endured."

Note to editors: HMCS Fredericton is deployed on a six-month mission to the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa to conduct counter piracy and counter terror operations alongside our NATO and Coalition partners. HMCS Fredericton's participation in Operation SAIPH (Sa-eef, meaning 'sword' in Arabic) represents Canada's ongoing contribution and commitment to international peace and security and confirms that Canada's Navy remains relevant, responsive and effective in the new security environment.

The MV KOTA WAJAR was used by Somali pirates as a mother ship which was involved in the hijacking and kidnapping of Paul and Rachel Chandler on October 23, 2009 and used to transport the couple to Somalia.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Canadian Forces Keeps Watch Over Christmas

Monday, December 21, 2009

While NORAD watches over Santa Claus and the nine Reindeer over North America Christmas Night; Canadian Forces, Coast Guard, and federal government personnel work to keep all Canadians safe during the holiday season.

The Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) and Maritime Security Operations Centre (MSOC) in HMC Dockyard stand ready to coordinate and direct ships and aircraft in search and rescue.

Canadian Forces and Coast Guard coordinators direct the federal search and rescue response for air and maritime emergencies in B.C. and Yukon, and off the coast – where there are upwards of 400 ships in the Canadian “area of responsibility” every day of the year.

Search and rescue crews from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron in CFB Comox are on continuous standby to launch CH-149 Cormorant helicopters and CC-115 Buffalo fixed wing aircraft. Coast Guard Ships Gordon Reid and John P. Tully are at sea patrolling the coast. The ships’ companies of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Winnipeg and Algonquin share “ready duty ship” status through the Christmas and New Year period and are on standby to sail at short notice in the event of an emergency.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coast Guard boat and recreational vessel collide

Date: Dec. 20, 2009

SAN DIEGO – A 33-foot Coast Guard boat and a recreational vessel collided in San Diego Bay Sunday, shortly before 6 p.m.

A Coast Guard investigator, at the University of California, San Diego hospital confirmed one passenger taken to the hospital was pronounced dead.

Several other passengers from the recreational vessel sustained injuries and were transported to area hospitals.

The Coast Guard Cutter Haddock, an 87-foot patrol boat stationed at Sector San Diego, assisted in providing medical assistance to the passengers and transported them to awaiting emergency medical personnel.

The Coast Guard small boat was responding to a report of a grounded vessel at the time of the accident.

Both vessels involved in the collision returned to shore and are being assessed for damages.

Weather conditions at the time of the accident were clear with light winds.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pair of minesweepers to call Sasebo home

Stars and Stripes Pacific edition, Friday, December 18, 2009

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Two minesweepers that arrived here on temporary rotation last summer will make a permanent home in Sasebo, the U.S. Navy announced Wednesday.

The USS Avenger and USS Defender, both from San Diego, will remain here after a review found it would be better to keep the two minesweepers in Sasebo rather than regularly rotate ships in from the United States, the Navy said.

Both ships had been in Sasebo for about six months and will join the base’s two other forward-deployed mine ships, the USS Patriot and the USS Guardian.

The change was not due to recent tensions in the region, including missile launches by North Korea, according to Navy spokesman Charles Howard.

“Their transition increases the availability of mine countermeasure capability in the Western Pacific region, eliminating transit and logistic constraints associated with periodic deployment to the Western Pacific from San Diego,” a Navy news release said.

More than 160 sailors and four civilians crew the two ships. They will be joined by family members, but the Navy said it is still uncertain how many will transfer from San Diego.

Howard said the new residents can be accommodated and will not strain services on the Navy base.

Coast Guard prepares for 2009-2010 icebreaking season

Cleveland December 15, 2009 - The Ninth Coast Guard District is preparing for the 2009-2010 icebreaking season in the Great Lakes.

Coast Guard icebreaking operations are designed to facilitate the movement of commercial vessels to meet the reasonable demands of commerce on the Great Lakes and to assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with flood mitigation.

The Coast Guard conducts two major operations: Taconite and Coal Shovel. These operations ensure the most efficient movement of vessels through the entire Great Lakes region.

Operation Taconite, under the control of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron.

Coal Shovel, under the control of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario, and includes the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Based on ice conditions, assets are dedicated to specific areas in coordination with our international partners and commercial icebreaking services.

To ensure the highest state of readiness and the Coast Guard’s ability to complete this critical mission, an additional icebreaker from the First Coast Guard District, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., will be temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes region. Penobscot Bay will augment the other eight Coast Guard icebreakers that call the Great Lakes home.

Penobscot Bay is scheduled to arrive, here, on December 22.

“We are taking all steps necessary to ensure we are ready to provide the best level of service and keep the fleet moving through the ice”, said Cmdr. Kevin Dunn, Chief of Waterways Management for the Ninth Coast Guard District. “We are ready to respond to emergencies and provide assistance to those who may be effected by ice or flooding.”

The Coast Guard encourages waterway users to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Owners of facilities on the ice should move them safely onshore or sufficiently away from the commercial channels. The Coast Guard strongly advises pedestrians, fishers and snowmobilers to leave the ice when they see the icebreaker in the immediate vicinity. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the status of waterway closures.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bataan ARG Returns From Deployment

Story Number: NNS091208-10 Release Date: 12/8/2009 3:14:00 PM 0 Comments

From Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) completed a successful seven-month deployment Dec. 8 when USS Bataan (LHD 5) and USS Ponce (LPD 15) arrived at Norfolk Naval Station and USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) returned to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va.

"Completing a successful deployment and bringing all of the Sailors and Marines safely back home to their families accomplished one of my major goals," said Capt. Paul McElroy, commander of the Bataan ARG. "The support of our families is the foundation that has carried us through these seven challenging months, so it's great to reunite with them before the holidays."

"It's hard being out at sea for such a long time, but my wife has been the core of my support," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Michael Spicer, from Virginia Beach, Va. "She has handled all of the responsibilities I had at home and has done an exceptional job."

The Bataan ARG began its deployment May 13 with a primary mission of conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility while the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), embarked on the ARG ships, served as the theater reserve force. They also engaged in seven theater security cooperation engagements and exercises, including Bright Star 2009, 5th Fleet's largest multinational exercise.

"Every mission, every exercise and every port visit conducted by these Sailors and Marines made a lasting impact throughout the maritime domain," said Bataan's commanding officer, Capt. Sam Howard. "I'm extremely proud of their performance, professionalism and accomplishments."

The Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU was the first ARG/MEU to deploy with the MV-22B Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft with the ability to fly and hover like a helicopter or tilt its wing-mounted propellers forward to fly like an airplane. Bataan launched 10 MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced), 22nd MEU, to fly into Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, marking the first time the aircraft were used in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Bataan ARG/22nd MEU also had the opportunity to host several distinguished visitors while they were deployed, including the 75th secretary of the Navy, Raymond Maybus, who visited Fort McHenry and Bataan, and the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, who attended a reception held in his honor aboard Ponce.

The Bataan ARG is composed of the Bataan, who served as the flagship for the ARG, Ponce, Fort McHenry, Amphibious Squadron 2, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 Detachment 4, Fleet Surgical Team 6, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21 Detachment 1, and detachments from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU 4 and Beachmaster Unit 2.

Friday, December 4, 2009

USS Nicholas Sets Sail for Africa

Story Number: NNS091203-10 Release Date: 12/3/2009 4:22:00 PM 0 Comments

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael L. Leslie, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The guided-missile frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47) departed her homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., for a scheduled deployment Dec. 3.

The ship and her crew of 186 Sailors are set to participate in Africa Partnership Station (APS) in support of U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM).

"APS is so important to the Navy," said Cmdr. Mark Kesselring, the ship's commanding officer. "It helps us to expand our partnerships across the oceans."

APS is an international security cooperation initiative led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa with the goal of improving maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.

"I want them [the crew] to come back knowing they've done their best and served their country," said Kesselring. "I also hope they gain a better appreciation for other cultures."

APS is designed to help build the professional skills and capabilities of African nations. It is also the largest maritime partnership program in African history.

"I'm so very proud of both my son and the Navy," said Joe Sagona, father of Lt. Brian Sagona, a Nicholas crew member. "I served in the Air Force back in the 70s, and I'm just so amazed at how many things the Navy does. There's just so much more to deal with and protect."

During the deployment, Nicholas is scheduled to visit and train with several countries. The training will include professional exchanges on seamanship, environmental stewardship, and maritime awareness, along with numerous humanitarian and civic outreach opportunities.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

USNS Henson Locates Aircraft Wreckage in Caribbean

USNS Henson at Sea December 2, 2009 - U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship USNS Henson (T-AGS 63), currently deployed for Oceanographic Southern Partnership Station, located the sunken wreckage of an aircraft Nov. 30 in the waters of the Netherland Antilles that had been missing since late October.

Henson, currently deployed in the Caribbean under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (NAVSO/C4F), was conducting oceanographic equipment testing operations near Curacao in the vicinity of the aircraft's last known coordinates. Following a request for assistance from the government of Netherland Antilles, NAVSO redirected Henson to search for the aircraft at its last known coordinates. Henson located aircraft wreckage about 190 meters deep at those coordinates.

The Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, operated by Divi Divi Air, crashed Oct. 22 into the Caribbean Sea near Bonaire. All nine passengers escaped. The pilot remains missing.

Henson will be in the Caribbean through early next year in support of U.S. Southern Command's (SOUTHCOM) survey requirements and NAVSO/C4F in support of Partnership of Americas, which seeks to strengthen partnerships and improve regional security.

Henson is one of seven oceanographic survey ships belonging to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command and operated for the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. These ships operate worldwide collecting data that provide much of the U.S. military's information on the ocean environment. Henson is operated and navigated by 24 civilian mariners working for a commercial firm under contract to Military Sealift Command while up to 27 civilian surveyors from the Naval Oceanographic Office carry out the ship's survey mission.