Friday, April 30, 2010

Air Force C-130s, Navy equipment dispatched to support oil slick response

4/30/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has authorized two Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to support the response to a massive oil slick that threatens wetlands and beaches along the Gulf Coast, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed April 30.
In addition, Navy officials have dispatched 66,000 feet of inflatable oil boom with anchoring equipment, along with seven skimming systems and their supporting gear to the region, Navy Lt. Myers Vasquez reported.
The C-130 crews, assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Ohio, had prepositioned in Mississippi in anticipation of the tasking.
"We are posturing to be ready to provide support to the ongoing emergency efforts if called upon," said Col. Craig Peters, the 910th Operations Group commander.
Weather currently is hampering the aircraft from operating, Mr. Morrell said, but flights could begin as soon as tomorrow.
The C-130s are equipped with modular aerial spray systems, according to Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr., the wing's public affairs superintendent.
They are expected to be used to help disperse the oil slick in accordance with a 1996 memo of understanding between the Air Force and Coast Guard, Air Force officials said.
The 910th AW' is home to the only full-time, fixed-wing, large-area aerial spray unit within the Department of Defense. The unit conducts spray missions at military installations and their surrounding communities primarily to control biting insects and on bombing ranges to control vegetation growth, Sergeant Barko said.
However, tests conducted between 1992 and 1994 at the request of Coast Guard officials demonstrated the unit's capability to apply dispersing materials to oil slicks, such as the one currently threatening the Gulf Coast.
The aerial spray unit trains for this mission, most recently, during a multi-agency international exercise in Brownsville, Texas, in 2008, Sergeant Barko said.
"This is a situation we have trained for, for years," Sergeant Barko said of the Gulf mission. "To have the opportunity to do it in the real world and help folks along the Gulf Coast with this capability is really gratifying for everyone involved."
The Navy equipment, along with 50 civilian operators and maintainers contracted through Naval Sea Systems Command, began arriving April 29 in Gulfport, Miss., from Williamsburg, Va., and Port Hueneme, Calif., Lieutenant Vasquez reported.
The equipment was quickly moved to the Mississippi state dock near Gulfport and put in use at the direction of the federal on-scene coordinator, he said.

Canadian Navy Marks Naval Centennial

Ottawa April 30, 2010 - Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 marks the commemoration and celebration of the Canadian Naval Centennial (CNC). Throughout the centennial year, the Canadian Navy is celebrating 100 years of naval service in Canada.
"It has always been a challenge to overcome maritime blindness in Canada, but the extraordinary work of our sailors is helping to demonstrate the amazing capability of the naval service and the important role the navy plays in Canada." says Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of the Maritime Staff. "The purpose of the Canadian Navy's centennial is not just to celebrate our achievements or tell the story of our navy; it is also to publicly renew our commitment to Canada and to the future. The support of Canadian citizens allows us to do the job we have been assigned and we thank the people of Canada for recognizing this important time in Canadian naval history and for sharing it with us."
Although May 4th, 1910 is the date that Royal Assent was given to the Naval Service Act thereby establishing the Department of Naval Service, several official naval centennial events will be held across the country throughout the year.
On Sunday, May 2, 2010 the three formations of the Canadian Navy, headquartered in Halifax, Quebec City and Esquimalt, along with Maritime Command in Ottawa and Canada's 24 Naval Reserve Units across the country will all hold commemorative services to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.
On Monday, May 3, 2010 Canada Post will unveil a set of two commemorative stamps at the Canadian War Museum, celebrating the Canadian Navy's 100th anniversary .The stamps will be available to the public on the following day (May 4th).
Tuesday May 4, 2010, will see a host of events across the country:
At 10 a.m., in the presence of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of the Maritime Staff, will present a ship's bell, the Canadian Navy Centennial Bell, to the people of Canada in a ceremony held in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill. Then, in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m., Vice-Admiral McFadden will be joined by Marie Lemay, CEO NCC, and Dr. Mark Kristmanson, Director of Programming NCC, to break ground for the national naval monument at Richmond Landing behind the Library of Archives.
At 9:30 a.m. local time, Maritime Forces Pacific will exercise its "Freedom of the City" of Victoria. Rear Admiral Tyrone Pile, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific, will lead a parade of more than 2,700 Canadian Forces members and the Naden Band through downtown Victoria. Following the parade, the Naden Band and the Guard of Honour will return to the corner of Government and Wharf Streets for the unveiling and dedication of the "Homecoming Statue".
At 10 a.m. local time, Maritime Forces Atlantic will exercise its "Freedom of the City" of Halifax. Rear-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic and more than 2,000 sailors and members of Maritime Forces Atlantic will parade through the streets of Halifax to City Hall.
The Canadian Navy is planning other events throughout 2010 year to mark this significant moment in Canada's naval history within the context of the centennial theme of "Bring the Navy to Canadians" -with events aimed at honouring the past, showcasing the current navy and reinforcing the requirement for the future navy. The centennial slogan of "Commemorate, Celebrate and Commit" reflects the Canadian Navy's broad aims in marking this historic national event.
For a full list of centennial events please visit:

Russian warship makes port call in India

MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Moskva guided-missile cruiser made a port call in the southwestern Indian city of Kochi on Friday, a Navy spokesman said.

He said the visit would last until Sunday, after which the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, will conduct joint drills with Indian warships.
The Moskva left the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol on April 9 for a series of exercises in the Indian Ocean with the Northern Fleet's Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser.
The two vessels are due to arrive in Russia's Far Eastern port of Vladivostok in June-July to take part in the Vostok-2010 large-scale strategic exercise. The exact date of the drills has yet to be announced.
Russia announced in 2007 that it was building up its naval presence throughout the world, and foreign port calls by Russian warships have become more frequent.

UPDATE 13: Deepwater Horizon update

April 30, 2010 08:58:37 CST

The unified command continues with a comprehensive oil well intervention and spill-response plan following the April 22 sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response effort with additional resources being mobilized as needed. The federal government has been fully engaged in the response since the incident occurred April 20.
The Minerals Management Service remains in contact with all oil and gas operators in the sheen area. Currently, no production has been curtailed as a result of the response effort.
Incident Facts:
More than 217,000 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill. An additional 305,760 feet is available.
To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix. Vessels are in place and continuing recovery operations.
75 response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.
139,459 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 51,000 gallons are available.
Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include:
Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla. Venice, La., Pascagoula, Miss., and Theodore, Ala.
A sixth staging area is being set up in Port Sulphur, La.
Weather conditions for April 30 - Winds from the southeast at 20 knots, 5 - 7 seas with slight chance of afternoon showers.
126 people were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when the incident occurred. 11 remain unaccounted for; 17 were injured, 3 of them critically. 1 injured person remains in the hospital.
To report oiled or injured wildlife, please call 1-800-557-1401.
To discuss spill related damage claims, please call 1-800-440-0858.
To report oil on land, or for general Community and Volunteer Information, please call 1-866-448-5816.
For the latest information visit or follow us on Twitter at or on Facebook at Deepwater Horizon Response.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

UPDATE 12 - Deepwater Horizon Update

The unified command continues with a comprehensive oil well intervention and spill-response plan following the April 22 sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. More than 1,000 personnel are involved in the response effort both on and offshore with additional resources being mobilized as needed.
The Minerals Management Service remains in contact with all oil and gas operators in the sheen area. Currently, no production has been curtailed as a result of the response effort.
Incident Facts:
A flyover on Wednesday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m. (CDT), continued to show a large, rainbow sheen with areas of emulsified crude, approximately 16 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
On April 28 at approximately 4:45 p.m. (CDT), the response team conducted a successful, controlled in-situ burn and is evaluating conducting additional burns.
More than 174,060 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill. An additional 243,260 feet is available and 265,460 feet has been ordered.
To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 18,180 barrels (763,560 gallons) of an oil-water mix. Vessels are in place and continuing recovery operations.
76 response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.
98,361 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 75,000 gallons are available.
Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include:
Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla. Venice, La., Pascagoula, Miss., and Theodore, Ala.
Weather conditions for April 29 - Winds from the southeast at 5-15 mph, choppy rough seas.
126 people were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when the incident occurred. 11 remain unaccounted for; 17 were injured, 3 of them critically. 1 injured person remains in the hospital.
To report oiled or injured wildlife, please call 1-800-557-1401.
To discuss spill related damage claims, please call 1-800-440-0858.
To report oil on land, or for general Community and Volunteer Information, please call 1-866-448-5816.
For the latest information please visit

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hughes Glomar Explorer no longer on US Registry

From the authoritative

The famous ship, built by Sun Ship in 1973, at a cost said to have been at least $350 million, for the purpose of recovering a sunken Soviet submarine, is being flagged out. Now called the GSF Explorer, it was converted to a regular drill ship in 1997, after the Navy leased it for 30 years to Global Marine's successor company, Global Santa Fe, which is now part of Transocean. The Congress authorized its sale to Transocean in 2002, for "a fair and reasonable amount determined by the Secretary of the Navy". I'm told that they only paid $15 million, which is hard to believe: can anyone confirm this or provide the true figure? There now seems to be nothing to stop Transocean taking her foreign. Of course, Transocean reflagged itself last year, when it moved from Houston to Geneva and became a Swiss corporation. April 28, 2010.

UPDATE 12 - Deepwater Horizon response update

The unified command continues with a comprehensive oil well intervention and spill-response plan following the April 22 sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. More than 1,000 personnel are involved in the response effort both on and offshore with additional resources being mobilized as needed.

Incident Facts:
A flyover on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:00 p.m. (CST) showed a rainbow sheen approximately 600 miles in circumference with areas of emulsified crude. The edge of the sheen is approximately 23 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
More than 76,580 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill. An additional 167,220 feet is available and 385,080 feet has been ordered.
To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 6,206 barrels (260,652 gallons) of an oil-water mix. Vessels are in place and continuing recovery operations.
70 response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.
64,748 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 110,960 gallons are available.
Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include:
Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla. Venice, La., Pascagoula, Miss., and Theodore, Ala.
Weather conditions for April 28 - Winds from the northeast at 5-15 mph, light choppy seas.
126 people were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when the incident occurred. 11 remain unaccounted for; 17 were injured, 3 of them critically. 1 injured person remains in the hospital.
To report oiled or injured wildlife, please call 1-800-557-1401.
For the latest information please visit

USNS Mercy to Set Sail for Pacific Partnership 2010

San Deigo April 27, 2010 - The Naval hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) will deploy from San Diego May 1, kicking off Pacific Partnership 2010.
The fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors, Pacific Partnership 2010 is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host nations and partner nations.
Pacific Partnership 2010's Mission Commander is Capt. Lisa Franchetti, who will ensure the collaboration and teamwork of the many government and non-governmental agencies who make up the mission this year.

"This deployment offers an incredible opportunity to continue to build the relationships and capabilities that will be essential in responding to a real-world disaster in the region," said Franchetti. "My team is truly looking forward to working with our host nation, partner nations, State Department, other services and our non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to create a mission that effectively brings people together and provides many opportunities to share knowledge and experiences."

The deployment, which is scheduled to take place through late September, is designed to enhance relationships through medical, dental and engineering outreach projects that reinforce the mutually supporting roles between participants.

"When we take our Navy Medicine capabilities and combine them with the capabilities and knowledge of our host nations, partner nations and NGO partners, we exponentially increase our ability to provide high caliber services to the communities we visit," said Capt. Jeffery Paulson, commanding officer of Mercy's shipboard hospital. "Ultimately, we will augment the host nation medical services already in place and engage in subject matter expert exchanges, sharing both experience and training."

Mercy, as the lead vessel, is scheduled to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The medical treatment facility or hospital includes multiple operating rooms, sophisticated X-ray capabilities and more than 500 volunteer and military staff.

Two additional visits will be made in Palau and Papua New Guinea by other Navy and partner nation ships as part of Pacific Partnership 2010.

"In this last week before departure our days are incredibly fast paced as we're conducting major onloads of stores and medical supplies and also running through training and fire drills to ensure that we're safe for sailing," said Military Sealift Command Capt. David Bradshaw, Mercy's civil service master who has overall responsibility for the ship and the safety of all of its passengers. "But despite the intense workload, energy levels are high. Everyone on the crew I have talked to is really looking forward to this mission."

Mercy is one of two U.S. Navy hospital ships and is crewed by 66 civil service mariners led by Bradshaw working for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command who navigate the ship to each mission stop, run the ship's engineering plant and transport patients and mission personnel between ship and shore in small boats.

"We've been preparing and planning for this mission since last fall," said Franchetti. "It's a great feeling to know that within a few days we will be embarking on this exciting deployment, bringing us one day closer to our first host nation visit."

Pacific Partnership conducts humanitarian and civic assistance by working with and through host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. government agencies, many whose representatives will be departing with Mercy. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Pacific Partnership also provides valuable experiences to learn from host nation military and civilian experts. This experience helps ensure the U.S. military is able to rapidly respond in support of emergency relief efforts in the future.

20th Anniversary Fleet Port Everglades Week Begins

Port Everglades April 27, 2010 - More than 2,500 American Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and German Sailors arrived in Port Everglades April 26 to participate in the 20th Anniversary Fleet Week Port Everglades, Fla.
Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) led USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Newport News (SSN 750), USS Halyburton (FFG 40), USCGC Key Biscayne (WPB 1339) and German multipurpose frigate FGS Hessen (F 221) into the port.
Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Bower stood by as the ships moored and said he gets excited about seeing the military interact with communities.
"This is my third fleet week, but it is my first in the Fort Lauderdale area; so I am really excited to get out in the community and represent the Marine Corps," said Bower. "We have a way of impacting people, and that's a cool feeling."
Weather was not the typical sunny Florida day, but a sudden deluge of wind and rain didn't keep Sailors like Cryptologic Technician Technical 1st Class (SW/AW) Mavis Milligan from Porter from being excited about being in the area which is also her home.
"It feels awesome to be here at home where my family can see what I do," said Milligan. "I can't wait to take my family aboard my ship to show them around and introduce them to my friends and coworkers."
The weather was a hard hit to the day but Sailors said the "All Hands on Deck Welcoming Party" at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino more than made up for it.
At the Welcoming Ceremony, Sailors were formally welcomed to the city by the Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale John P. Seiler .
"On behalf of the city of Ft. Lauderdale let me welcome you," said Seiler.
The opening ceremony was not only the official kick off for Fleet Week Port Everglades but also a time to welcome and recognize everyone involved.
"It's fantastic, I mean it's a chance to hear from Admiral Howard, Admiral Alexander, some of the other folks here. Obviously a huge number of supporters here and organizations that put forth a lot of effort to make sure that this port visit is going to be a success and that our sailors are really going to enjoy themselves," said Cmdr. Kent Coleman, commanding officer of Independence.
More than 2,500 American service members and German sailors, will participate in a number of community outreach activities and enjoy the hospitality and tourism of South Florida for a full week.

Admiral Kicks Off Kansas City Navy Week, Touts New Submarine

Kansas City MO April 27, 2010 - The Commander of Submarine Group 2 officially kicked off Kansas City Navy Week April 26 beginning a celebration that gives area residents an opportunity to meet Sailors and learn about the Navy's critical mission and broad-ranging capabilities.
Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin serves as leading spokesperson for the event, which runs through May 2.
"There are actually 7,000 Sailors from Missouri serving the nation as we speak, and there are about 7,000 retirees in Missouri. So, even though Kansas City and the state are landlocked, there still is a deep tie to the Navy," said McLaughlin.
The Navy conducts about 20 Navy Weeks each year, reaching out to communities across the country to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy. The Navy's precision flight demonstration team, The Blue Angels, will headline Kansas City Navy Week, performing at the Sound of Speed Air Show May 1 - 2.
As part of Navy Week events, McLaughlin will participate in a "Caps for Kids" visit at Children's Mercy Hospital and a presentation to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
While in Missouri, McLaughlin also worked to raise awareness about Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780), the newest Virginia-class attack submarine. According to McLaughlin, it is important to establish a bond between the state and the submarine, which is scheduled to be commissioned July 31 during a ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.
"The ship's crew absolutely loves feeling that pride of ownership that the people of Missouri have, and I think it really motivates the crew to do their job the very best that they can," added McLaughlin.
During his visit, McLaughlin has visited different parts of Missouri to discuss Navy Week and the submarine. In Jefferson City, he met with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who recounted that submarine Missouri is the fifth Navy vessel to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last one was the legendary battleship USS Missouri, which was the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945.
"There are few ships that have served in World War II that are as well known as the Battleship Missouri - the Mighty Mo," Nixon beamed during a news conference in Jefferson City. "Now, the people in our state proudly anticipate the day when another ship christened the USS Missouri becomes part of the most-advanced, best-trained Navy in the world's history."
Prior to meeting with Gov. Nixon, McLaughlin spoke with submarine veterans, other veterans groups and the Navy League in Springfield. He also spoke to local business leaders during a luncheon, providing them with an update of the submarine force and thanking them "on behalf of our Sailors and their families for your continued support for all of us who wear the uniform. The conditions under which we live and serve is made better by your support and dedication to us."
In addition, McLaughlin met with members of the USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity created to raise at least $300,000 to fund events surrounding Missouri's commissioning.
McLaughlin was also the guest speaker at the University of Missouri's Joint Reserve Officers Training Corps Awards Parade in Columbia.
When commissioned in July, Missouri will become the seventh Virginia-class submarine to join the fleet. Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

HMS Ark Royal Update – 2100 21 April 2010

London April 22, 2010 - HMS Ark Royal departed her base port of Portsmouth on 6 April to take part in a multi-national maritime exercise off the west coast of Scotland, prior to deploying to the western Atlantic for further training with the United States and French Navies.
Whilst off the coast of Scotland, in light of the Icelandic volcanic activity and the difficulty of returning British personnel from continental Europe, HMS Ark Royal was retasked to head south and poise ready to assist recovery operations if required.
HMS Ark Royal was due to enter HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland on Friday, on completion of the initial training package, before proceeding across the Atlantic. HMS Ark Royal has now been released from recovery operations to allow her to complete preparations for the trans-Atlantic voyage. Due to HMS Ark Royal’s current position in the English Channel, the pre-sailing preparations will now take place in Portsmouth and not HM Naval Base Clyde. In the meantime, other RN units remain poised to assist recovery of personnel if required.
HMS Ark Royal is currently the nation’s strike carrier, giving the Royal Navy the capability to deploy anywhere in the world at immediate notice.
HMS Ark Royal Commanding Officer, Capt John Clink OBE said, “My Ship’s Company is proud to have been requested to assist and were looking forward to having our guests onboard. HMS Albion’s entry into Portsmouth on Wednesday evening was fantastic and really highlights the versatility and ‘can do’ spirit of our sailors, Royal Marines and aircrew. We now look forward to joining HMS Sutherland, HMS Liverpool and RFA Fort George in our multi-national exercise with the French Submarine, FS Perle, and the US Destroyer, USS BARRY, in addition to the United States Marine Corps. Zeal Does Not Rest!”

Etna returns from Operation Atalanta

ITS Etna (A 5326) returned to her homeport Taranto April 24th after a very active tour of duty with the EU's Operation Atalanta anti-piracy patrol off Somalia. Official Italian Navy photo.

USS Louisville Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled six-month deployment to the western Pacific region to complete several missions in support of national defense April 26.

"The submarine is in excellent material condition and the crew has done an outstanding job in completing all of the required maintenance to get us certified to deploy," said Cmdr. Lee Sisco, USS Louisville Commanding Officer. "We are all looking forward to getting underway and doing a lot of the missions and operations that we train for. I am very proud of each and every one of the crew."
USS Louisville is the fourth United States ship to bear the name in honor of the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

USS Hopper Returns from Seven-Month Deployment

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 250 Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) April 23, to a crowded pier of family and friends following a scheduled seven-month deployment.

Hopper departed JBPHH Sep. 14, 2009, for an independent deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibilities (AOR).
Lt. Cmdr. Al Lopez, Hopper's executive officer, noted the great teamwork that the crew displayed throughout the deployment.
"Hopper's success during this last deployment belongs completely to the Sailors," said Lopez. "In all that they were called to do, the crew approached their missions with a professionalism and competence that cannot help but make America proud."
While on deployment, Hopper conducted baseline operations for Coalition Task Force (CTF) 152, including maritime patrols, bridge queries and visit, board, search and seizure approach operations while in the 5th Fleet AOR.
Hopper Sailors also volunteered their time during several community relations projects while in the 7th Fleet AOR.
"Overall, we had a very successful deployment as Hopper supported the mission of the Navy and the United States," said Hopper Command Master Chief Jay Stuckey. "Hopper's performance was nothing short of outstanding."
Friends and families of Hopper sailors were enthused to see the crew return home.
Guided-missile destroyers provide multimission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups.

Officials Report on Oil Spill Response

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2010 – Though oil still continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico after an oil rig off the Louisiana coast exploded April 20, officials in charge of clean-up operations say they’re doing the best they can to contain the spill.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, commander of the 8th Coast Guard District based in New Orleans, said on a conference call yesterday that all possible measures are being taken to stop the leak and contain the oil that has spilled so far.
Though the spill has not reached the shoreline, Landry said, she has coordinated with Gulf Coast states so they’re prepared should the slick head their way.
The Deepwater Horizon, leased to British Petroleum by Transocean, an oil mining contractor, caught fire after an explosion and sank last week. Eleven workers still are missing. The rig, with a platform bigger than a football field, was one of the most modern and was drilling in 5,000 feet of water about 40 miles from Venice, La.
Landry cautioned people not to be overly concerned with the area covered by the spill – about 3,200 square miles. Though the area is large, she said, the spill is not continuous or consistent across that area. Some parts merely have a rainbow sheen that indicates some oil emulsified in the water, she explained, while some areas have more-dense pockets of oil and gas. Some areas have little or no oil at all, she added.
Crude oil is emptying into the Gulf at a rate of about 1,000 barrels a day. Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer, said it should take two to four weeks to clean the spill.
Suttles said clean-up crews are “at pace” to control the leak and to gather oil that has spilled into the Gulf. More than 1,100 barrels -- nearly 50,000 gallons -- of oily water have been collected so far.
Efforts also are under way to bring oil at depth in the Gulf to the surface, so it, too, can be collected. BP is attempting to drill two “relief” wells that will divert oil flow to new pipes and storage equipment. Suttles added that work is ongoing to build a dome to cover the leak area and gather leaking oil into a new pipe. The dome technique has been used in shallower water, but never at this depth, he said.
Lars Herbst, director for the Gulf of Mexico Region of Minerals Management Service, said BP and Transocean both have clean safety and maintenance records. Finding the cause of the explosion and leak and then taking preventive steps during future deep-sea drilling operations, he said, are priorities in the investigation.
“We want to leave no stone unturned in ensuring nothing like this ever occurs again,” he added.
Charlie Henry, lead science coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said three sperm whales had been observed swimming near the spill, but that there was no indication they had been affected.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Joint Warrior 10-1 Wraps Up, Highlights Multinational Relationships

USS Laboon at Sea April 25, 2010 - Exercise Joint Warrior 10-1 concluded April 23, culminating with a visit by Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 to the Brazilian Navy frigate Independencia (F44).

The exercise, a United Kingdom-led, semi-annual event that encompasses multiwarfare exercises, presents a unique opportunity for the U.S. Navy to train alongside naval personnel from various countries, with this year's participants including Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
"One of the biggest challenges today is our complete integration in a multinational force," said Cmdr. Eduardo A. Wieland, Independencia's commanding officer.
Wieland hosted Capt. Aaron C. Jacobs, DESRON 24 commodore, and Capt. Stephen C. Evans, DESRON 24 deputy commodore, for lunch aboard the ship the final day of the exercise.
The Brazilian Navy participates so it is prepared to work with other navies, as well as to achieve specific training objectives for the crew, such as air defense, anti-submarine warfare and maritime interception operations, said Wieland.
Jacobs and the DESRON 24 staff embarked destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) to lead a task group of ships in the exercise, which included the Brazilian frigate, two British frigates, HMS Cornwall (F99) and HMS Iron Duke (F234), cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59).
During the two-week exercise, DESRON 24 hosted British and Brazilian service members aboard Laboon to improve interoperability and prepare for operations in a joint maritime environment.
"It was our honor to have you with us in our task group and to have your officers on board with us," said Jacobs, of the Brazilian Navy's participation. "Our relationship is a strong one, and we look forward to working with your Navy again."
Laboon and other participating ships are scheduled to arrive in Faslane, Scotland, April 23, before conducting theater security operations and port visits to countries in the Baltic Sea region.
DESRON 24 leads the exercise as the independent deployment certification executive agent for Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic.
The exercise promotes Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet's three focus areas, which are conducting safe and effective fleet operations to achieve mission, providing ready maritime forces for global assignment and teaming with allies and partners in execution of the maritime strategy.

HMAS Stuart welcomed home

Saturday, 24 April 2010 052/2010

Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, today welcomed Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Stuart back to her homeport of Garden Island, Sydney, just in time for Anzac Day.
Returning from a six-month deployment to the Middle East Area of Operations, the Anzac-class frigate, carrying 185 men and women, was welcomed alongside by Mr Combet and Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stephen Gilmore AM CSC RAN, along with family and friends.
Mr Combet congratulated Commanding Officer HMAS Stuart, Commander Andrew Masters RAN, on the ship's successful deployment.
"Stuart contributed to maritime operations in the Persian Gulf, countering piracy off the Horn of Africa and providing maritime security," Mr Combet said.
"Stuart also contributed greatly to coalition efforts in the Middle East, undertaking operations in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman as part of Operation SLIPPER.
"I congratulate the Ship's Company for their professionalism and commitment throughout the long deployment. Their efforts have built upon the outstanding reputation of the Australian Defence Force in the Middle East.
"I thank the families and friends of those returning from the Gulf for their ongoing support. The men and women of Stuart are the pride of the nation and we will reflect on their dedication and service on Anzac Day tomorrow," Mr Combet said.
Commanding Officer Andrew Masters said, "The crew of Stuart has worked tirelessly and conducted themselves with professionalism and dedication in challenging conditions. It is wonderful to be back in Sydney and to see the family and friends we have all missed."
This is the third time that Stuart has been deployed to the Gulf, with the frigate's return marking the completion of Navy's 22nd rotation since September 2001.
HMAS Stuart has been replaced by HMAS Parramatta, which left Garden Island in March.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Alaska's tallest structure scheduled for demolition

JUNEAU, Alaska -- The Coast Guard has establish a safety-zone beginning Sunday during preparation for the demolition of the 1,350-foot Long Range Aids to Navigation tower in Port Clarence currently the tallest structure in Alaska.

The safety-zone will include all waters within a two-mile radius of the tower and is being created as part of a project managed by the Coast Guard's Civil Engineering Unit in Juneau which is responsible for taking down the LORAN Station Port Clarence's radio transmitting tower in a controlled demolition.
The LORAN tower in Port Clarence is the tallest of its kind in the country but the condition of the tower is deteriorating and with no funding for repairs the tower is at ever-increasing risk of an uncontrolled collapse. Alaska's tallest man-made structure will be the tallest structure ever intentionally brought down with explosives in a controlled demolition.
The Coast Guard began decommissioning its LORAN infrastructure in response to direction from Congress provided in the 2010 budget. LORAN Station Port Clarence ceased transmitting the LORAN signal February 8, 2010.
More information will be available as the demolition team prepares the controlled explosion. Photos and video will be available following the collapse.

Freedom Successfully Concludes Historic Maiden Deployment

San Diego April 23, 2010 - The Navy's first littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Freedom (LCS 1), concluded its successful maiden deployment with arrival its homeport of San Diego April 23.
The historic deployment, the first for a ship of the class, came over two years ahead of schedule, taking the ship to three countries and through the U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. 3rd Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AOR).
While underway, Freedom conducted counter-illicit trafficking (CIT) operations, making four successful interdictions that netted more than five tons of cocaine, seized two "go fast" drug vessels and took nine suspected smugglers into custody. In addition to independent operations, the ship successfully integrated with USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group, performed exercises with partner navies and conducted joint maneuvers with USS McInerney (FFG 8) and Fire Scout, the frigate's embarked unmanned aerial vehicle.
"Freedom's homecoming, after a successful maiden deployment, is a significant milestone for the surface Navy and the future of surface warfare," said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, commander, Naval Surface Force Pacific. "This is a special day for the Freedom crew, the entire LCS program and the great city of San Diego. As a team they performed magnificently and worked hard to complete their missions in support of the Maritime strategy. We have learned many important lessons from this early deployment that will be applied to future LCS fleet operations."
Arrival in San Diego comes five years after the ship's keel was laid in Marinette, Wis., and 18 months after commissioning in Milwaukee.
"The deployment was an opportunity that most had waited for several years to see come," said Cmdr. Randy Garner, Freedom's commanding officer. "The many lessons we learned will serve us well in the future, and I am very proud to have been part of the teamwork and focus that all onboard demonstrated."
After departing Mayport, Fla., Feb. 16, Freedom conducted CIT operations in the 4th Fleet AOR. In less than three weeks of at-sea operations, Freedom made four drug seizures – symbolized by four "snowflakes" adorning her bridge wings – and recovered more than 5 tons of cocaine.
"It's awesome to have those snowflakes on the hull," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Patrick Johnson, a coxswain for the Surface Warfare (SUW) Mission Package who drove Freedom's 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats during the drug interdictions. "I'm excited about what we've done, and I want to continue doing it."
From there, Freedom engaged in theater security cooperation port visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Panama City, Panama; and Manzanillo, Mexico. In each port, Freedom's Sailors interacted with their partner-nation counterparts and participated in community relations projects that benefited local neighborhoods.
Throughout the deployment, Freedom broke new ground in operations with other Navy ships and partner nation forces. In addition to working with the Colombian Navy and Panamanian Public Forces, Freedom operated at sea with the Mexican Navy frigate ARM Nicolas Bravo (F 201).
The ship also engaged in its first strike group operations with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group for high-speed operations, re-fueling at sea, surface gunnery events and visit, board, search and seizure evolutions. Prior to entering the 3rd Fleet AOR, Freedom conducted joint maneuvers in the Eastern Pacific with the guided-missile frigate USS McInerney (FFG 8), which carried the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle. McInerney and Freedom also conducted adjacent CIT patrols in the region.
"The opportunity for Freedom to work with a carrier strike group for the first time was icing on the cake of our first operational deployment," said Garner. "We demonstrated how Freedom and future littoral combat ships are capable of working as part of a strike group when needed."
Garner was quick to offer credit to the embarked units that accompanied his Gold Crew throughout the deployment. The SUW Mission Package was joined by Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 2, based in Norfolk, Va., and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.
"Success in counter-narcotics trafficking missions takes several teams to come together in short order and each of our detachments did exactly that," said Garner. "We were very fortunate to have the group that we did and it shows in the success they enjoyed."
The men and women of Freedom echoed their commander's pride in having completed their mission successfully.
"I did not expect anything less from our crew - this is the way they have always performed," said Freedom Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Anthony Decker. "As for our detachments, we wouldn't have had the success we had without their expertise and help. They have been phenomenal."
After performing a crew swap – with the Gold Crew turning over to the Blue Crew, commanded by Cmdr. Kris Doyle – and undergoing maintenance, Freedom will resume operations in summer 2010 by journeying to the International Fleet Review at Esquimalt, British Columbia, and participating in the 2010 Rim of the Pacific exercise.
The first ship of the revolutionary LCS program, Freedom is a fast, agile and maneuverable ship designed to compliment the Navy's larger multimission surface combatants in select mission areas, including combating submarines, mines and fast-attack craft threats in the littorals.

SECNAV Announces Name of LPD 26, USS John P Murtha

Johnstown PA April 23, 2010 - The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) honored the legacy of the late U.S. Representative John Murtha by declaring April 23 that the Navy's 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, LPD 26, will bear his name.
The announcement was made at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County airport in Johnstown, Pa., a town Murtha held close to his heart.
SECNAV Ray Mabus was accompanied by Joyce and Donna Murtha, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative Norm Dicks of Washington and U.S. Representative David Obey of Wisconsin.
"John Patrick Murtha served our country his entire adult life," said Mabus. "Both in uniform as a Marine and in the halls of Congress, he dedicated himself to the United States of America."
Murtha's service began when he joined the Marine Corps in 1952 and served in the Korean War. He also saw service in Vietnam in 1966, a tour that earned him the Bronze Star with Valor device, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Murtha retired from military service as a colonel in 1990. He had 37 years of active and Reserve service.
Murtha represented Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District from 1974 until his death in 2010. In his position as the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he oversaw appropriations for the Department of Defense, which included the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and the intelligence community. He was a driving force for the Navy's shipbuilding program, providing necessary funds to grow and maintain the fleet and preserve the industrial base.
"Throughout his time in Congress, Jack Murtha remained a Marine. He always did what he thought best for our country and he championed the interests of service men and women." said Mabus.
The future USS John P. Murtha will transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies and will support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions for a projected 30 years.
"She will serve as a visible symbol of the freedoms Chairman Murtha held dear, and his example will live on in the steel of that ship and in all those who will serve aboard her." said Mabus.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coast Guard rescues, returns 125 Haitian migrants

Coast Guard Cutter Seneca crewmembers located a grossly overloaded 55-foot Haitian sail freighter approximately 30 miles north of Punta Gorda, Cuba, Tuesday. Seneca crewmembers distributed life jackets to the 125 migrants and safely transferred them to the cutter. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Drew Cavanagh.

MIAMI - The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca repatriated 125 Haitian migrants to Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Thursday, after they were located at sea Tuesday.

This was the second of two migrant vessel interdictions Tuesday involving Haitian migrants.
While conducting a routine patrol in the Caribbean Sea, Seneca crewmembers received a report of a northbound 55-foot, grossly-overloaded Haitian sail freighter approximately 30 miles north of Punta Gorda, Cuba, and made best speed to the vessel's position. Seneca crewmembers distributed life jackets to the migrants and safely transferred the 100 men, 14 women and 11 children to the cutter without incident. Due to the instability of the 55-foot vessel, Seneca boatcrews carefully and skillfully maneuvered the cutter smallboats alongside the vessel to ensure it did not capsize during the transfer process. To see what can happen when a grossly-overloaded migrant vessel loses stability, click here to view video from a migrant rescue involving the Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless on May 9, 2008.
“It was a long and exhausting evolution, but everything went well,” said Seaman Joseph Winters, a crewmember aboard the Seneca.
Ninty Haitian migrants were repatriated to Cap Haitien, Haiti, Wednesday after they were interdicted at sea in a grossly-overloaded 25-foot Yola approximately 20 miles northeast of Ile de La Tortue, Haiti, heading toward the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos Islands. To date in fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1, 2009, the Coast Guard has interdicted 442 Haitian migrants, including 217 in April. These numbers are consistent with normal illegal migration levels from Haiti and there are currently no indicators that lead the Coast Guard to believe Haitian migrants are taking to the sea in increased numbers since the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.
The Coast Guard has multiple aircraft and cutters patrolling the Caribbean for vessels trying to smuggle or otherwise move migrants into the U.S. or other Caribbean countries illegally. Virtually all Haitian migrants interdicted at sea will be repatriated back to Haiti into an area relatively unaffected by the earthquake.
Once aboard the cutter, all migrants received food, water, shelter and basic medical care, if needed.
Seneca is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Boston.

Commander, 3rd Fleet Is Confident in Dubuque Sailors, Marines

USS DUBUQUE, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet told amphibious dock landing ship USS Dubuque (LPD 8) Sailors and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Marines April 20 he is confident that they are ready to deploy in spring 2010.
"You have done the integration between Sailors and Marines which couldn't be more important. I feel very confident and comfortable in certifying that you are ready to go out and perform any mission required by you for your nation," said Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet.
Hunt addressed the crew of 800-plus Sailors and Marines at an all-hands call on the flight deck during his visit to Dubuque, which included a meeting with leadership, a tour and lunch.
In his speech, Hunt emphasized that the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and MEU team possess a unique skill set no other aspect of the U.S. Department of Defense can deliver. According to Hunt, an ARG/MEU provides an incredibly valuable capability whether it is actual combat, military-to-military training, humanitarian assistance or disaster relief.
"This is a force multiplier for the nation. It is an asset we will use in a positive way to influence global events," said Hunt.
Following the all-hands call, Hunt toured the 43-year-old ship and met the crew firsthand. He visited critical spaces including the bridge, combat information center and the engine room. Along the way he talked to Sailors about their lives in the Navy, asked them where they are from and praised them.
"As I walked around and looked at the ship it is obvious the Dubuque team has performed magnificently. You have prepared the ship properly, not only in material condition but training-wise. By all accounts, you have done extremely well," said Hunt.
Hunt thanked the Sailors and Marines for their hard work. Preparing to deploy takes months of preparation that includes an inspection and training series before being certified to deploy. The recipe for this success, according to Hunt, was hard work, leadership, dedication and commitment to doing the job right.
"I find it particularly gratifying to take a look at where this ship is, the hurdles that you've gone through and the accomplishments you have made in preparation for the deployment," said Hunt.
The upcoming deployment will carry on a tradition of amphibious warfare that has its roots in the Mexican-American War. Hunt compared the importance this type of warfare has on national security today to that of ballistic missile submarines during the Cold War.
"I think that, in particular, as we move forward dealing with trans-national terrorism and violent extremism, that we will find more action comes from the sea, from an ARG/MEU, than just about any other way of projecting power," said Hunt.
Immediately following Hunt's departure, Capt. Christopher E. Bolt, the commanding officer of Dubuque, summarized the visit.
"From the rainbow side boys of air division and landing the helicopter safely, to the great questions at all-hand's call, to the condition of the ship and the professionalism of the crew, Vice Adm. Hunt was incredibly impressed. I've never been more proud of a military unit, especially a front-line unit ready to go into harm's way," said Bolt.
Hunt was joined by Commander, Expeditionary Group 3, Rear Adm. Earl L. Gay, and visited all three amphibious warships in the Peleliu ARG.
Dubuque is part of the Peleliu ARG that is led by Amphibious Squadron 3, and consists of amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), Dubuque and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).

HMS Albion arrives in Portsmouth

London April 22, 2010 - HMS Albion arrived in Portsmouth last night carrying 440 troops returning from operations in Afghanistan and civilian holidaymakers delayed by air traffic problems over the past several
The Royal Navy assault ship, HMS Albion, set sail from Santander in northern Spain for the UK at midday UK time on Tuesday 20 April 2010.
The ship, arriving alongside in Santander, had been met by a grateful contingent of troops, who had spent much of the night travelling from Zaragoza Airport, after having finished their six-month deployment to Afghanistan, in order to get to the only route home to their families and friends.
Once the military personnel were embarked, a group of the most vulnerable stranded British citizens were welcomed on board by HMS Albion's crew of sailors and Royal Marines.
This was no small task; the provision of hundreds of extra spaces for sleeping and the associated additional meals required was testing for the ship. However, this was actually a role that she is used for, albeit on a smaller scale, as the ship is purpose-designed to support embarked troops when in an operational environment.
On this occasion, the ship was not carrying her full complement of landing craft, which meant that the extra space could be used for accommodating some of the personnel embarked at Santander.
The ship's Executive Officer, Commander John Gardner, said:
"We have spent the past six months training for whatever operations might come our way, and the ship is well prepared for just this eventuality.
"We are delighted to be returning the soldiers, airmen and medics, who have endured an arduous past six months, to their families. That we can support the repatriation of those stranded abroad as well is a bonus."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Canadian Ship to Attend New York Fleet Week

The world's third oldest destroyer, HMCS Athabaskan, will be joining several US Navy and Coast Guard vessels in the annual New York City Fleet Week in May.

HMS Northumberland Deploys for Oil Rig Sentry Duty

London April 21, 2010 - Devonport-based warship HMS Northumberland left Plymouth this week to commence what will be a seven-and-a-half month deployment to the Middle East.

The ship's mission is part of a multinational effort to disrupt terrorist and organised crime smuggling routes that provide both supplies and finances for various terrorist organisations.
This will involve the ship operating for extended periods in the harsh and uncomfortable environment of the Middle East where temperatures can easily reach 50 degrees Celsius.
Rear Admiral Bob Love visited the ship shortly before sailing to wish the commanding officer and crew good fortune on their forthcoming mission.
Family and friends said their final farewells as the crew of HMS Northumberland came onboard for the start of the deployment to the waters around the Gulf of Aden and Oman.
As the ship left the harbour with the crew lining the decks, they were accompanied by the swirling sound of pipes courtesy of Mr Andy Grant and Mr Stuart Kay of the Morpeth Pipe Band from the county of Northumberland.

Deepwater Horizon Explosion

A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew document the fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, while searching for survivors April 21, 2010. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Lloyd.

The seventh Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

The seventh Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II flight test aircraft leaves the runway on its first flight April 20 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. The primary role of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, known as AF-2, will be weapons testing. (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Angel DelCueto)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday Recognized By The Navy

Esquimalt Monday, April 19, 2010 - Her Majesty the Queen of Canada turns 84 on Wednesday, April 21, and in accordance with Navy ceremony Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships will “dress overall” from sunrise to sunset.
Dressing ship means that operational ships in port fly signal flags on a line over the masthead from bow to stern and with the Canadian flag at the tallest mast.
The Queen’s actual birthday is one of nine occasions in the year when the Canadian Navy Fleet “dresses overall”. The others are the accession of the reigning Sovereign (Feb. 6); Canada Flag Day (Feb.15); Commonwealth Day (2nd Monday in March); Battle of Atlantic Sunday (1st Sunday in May); The anniversary of the Naval Service Act of Canada (May 4); the official birthday of the reigning Sovereign (Monday preceding May 25); the coronation of the reigning Sovereign (June 2); the birthday of the consort of the reigning Sovereign (June 10); And Canada Day (July 1). The Union Flag (Union Jack) is flown from the mast head on Commonwealth Day and on the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster (Dec. 11).

Submarine Missouri Reaches Milestone As Commissioning Day Approaches

Groton April 20, 2010 - A milestone in the life of the Navy's newest Virginia-class submarine was marked April 16 as the crew of Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780) moved aboard and began bringing the submarine's systems to life on "In Service Day" in Groton, Conn.

During "In Service Day," crewmembers moved aboard the submarine and began general day-to-day operations and preparations for sea-trials, work-ups and eventual commissioning.
Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode, the submarine's commanding officer, leads a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
Rexrode said they were excited, as they hurried across the gangway.
"'In Service Day' is a big day for the crew because we take control of the sub's safety and security from the folks at General Dynamics Electric Boat," said Rexrode, from Spencer, W.Va. "We are training everyday, so we can prepare to set sail and take the lead as America's newest submarine."
The 7,800-ton Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News. Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
Among the many improved comforts for the crew is the submarine's galley. Redesigned for the Virginia-class, the galley is four-times larger than that of the Los Angeles and Seawolf-class submarines.
Culinary Specialist Seaman Paul Hites understands the importance of great food for the crew.
"Being a cook on a sub is a big deal. Preparing good food helps keep the crew's morale up," said Hites. "It really is an important job that I take pride in."
The Virginia-class of submarines is tailored to excel in a wide range of warfighting missions. These include anti-submarine and surface ship warfare; special operation forces; strike; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; carrier and expeditionary strike group support; and mine warfare. Also in Virginia-class boats, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that house color, high-resolution black and white and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms.
Missouri will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine delivered to the Navy when she is commissioned July 31 at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton.
Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the state of Missouri. The last USS Missouri, the legendary battleship, saw action in World War II, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War, and the battleship was also the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender the Japanese at the end of World War II Sept. 2, 1945.

HMS Ark Royal Update

London April 20, 2010 - HMS Ark Royal has been directed to leave a large-scale multi-national maritime exercise off the west coast of Scotland and head south to await further tasking.
There is a flurry of activity in the ship as it prepares for all eventualities. HMS Ark Royal is a versatile ship with over 700 sailors embarked, and can sustain itself at sea for a number of weeks. The “Mighty Ark” is capable of act in a number of ways ranging from front-line aircraft carrier to humanitarian assistance, as well as a command and control platform.
In parallel to being poised in case required to support efforts to bring UK nationals home from continental Europe, HMS Ark Royal continues her preparations for the Auriga 2010 deployment to the East Coast of the USA. The AURIGA task group deployment will regain and develop core skills in Carrier Strike and Amphibious operations, making maximum use of the US exercise facilities and multi-national assets in order to be prepared for global required by the Government.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Decommissioned Battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) Relieved of Duty

Norfolk April 18, 2010 - The city of Norfolk officially took over stewardship of the decommissioned Iowa-class battleship, USS Wisconsin (BB-64), during a ceremony at The National Maritime Center on April 16.
The ceremony took place 65 years after the ship was first commissioned into naval service April 16, 1944.
"As we incrementally open up this Navy icon for public viewing, it will be our awesome responsibility to bring this grand ship's history to life," said Hank Lynch, Executive Director of Nauticus.
Wisconsin has been berthed at Nauticus, a maritime-themed science center, since Dec. 7, 2000, but still maintained by the Navy until this ceremony. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006, battleships must be maintained in case it must be recommissioned for Navy usage. Transfer of the ship to Norfolk ends that requirement for the Wisconsin. The Navy had paid approximately $2.8 million to the city of Norfolk to maintain the ship between 2000-2009.
Audio tours lead guests through decks of the ship to demonstrate the workings of one of the US Navy's last and largest battleships.
"Our responsibility is to preserve and protect your ship; to insure that your legacy of duty, honor and country endures and inspires future generations of Americans," said Paul D. Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk.
Several former crewmembers were in attendance for the ceremony, along with distinguished guests and active duty sailors.
Wisconsin served in Adm. William F. Halsey's 3rd Fleet during the liberation of the Philippines, supported the amphibious landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa and transported GIs back to the United States during Operation Magic Carpet at the end of World War II.
Photo from

Russian warship to call at Oman port

The Russian missile cruiser Moskva will call at the Omani port of Muscat on April 24 to replenish water and food supplies, a Navy spokesman said on Monday.
The flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, which left the port of the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol on April 9, has crossed the Suez Canal and is en route to the Indian Ocean to join other Russian warships for large-scale naval exercises.
The Moskva, a Slava-class missile cruiser with anti-aircraft and ASW capability, is to team up with the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser from Russia's Northern Fleet, which recently arrived in Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus ahead of the drills.
Russia announced in 2007 that it was building up its naval presence throughout the world.
A Russian Pacific Fleet task force, comprised of the Marshal Shaposhnikov, an Udaloy class missile destroyer, a salvage tug and a tanker, is currently on an anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast.
MOSCOW, April 19 (RIA Novosti)

Royal Navy ready to help stranded Britons

London April 19, 2010 - The Government has announced plans to help repatriate Britons stranded overseas following the grounding of air traffic over much of Europe last Thursday.

HMS Ark Royal photo by LA(Phot) Kaz Williams RN

Royal Navy ships, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean, have been deployed to the Channel to help with the relief effort, and HMS Albion is sailing to northern Spain to pick up UK Service personnel returning from Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan.
We will also be working with the Spanish authorities to use their airports, which are currently outside the volcanic ash zone, as a hub to repatriate British travellers.
The Prime Minister has been discussing options with the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Zapatero, and Head of the European Commission, President Barroso, and later today EU Transport Ministers will be holding a video conference.
The PM said the Government's 'paramount concern' was the safety of air passengers:
"Today we are looking at the results of test flights that have been up in the air yesterday and today and looking also at the manufacturers' recommendations, but that will be dealt with by the European Council meeting of Transport Ministers that will be held by video link later this afternoon and further decisions about when flights can go and whether flights cannot go will have to be made as a result of the conclusions of these meetings."
The Government also said that it was working with travel operators to ensure that ferries and Eurostar are at a higher capacity to maximise the number of people they can bring home.
The Foreign Office will ensure that consular staff are available to help and assist. This includes visiting airports, working with the local authorities to resolve visa problems and advising British nationals who have run out of funds.
They have launched a special advice line for callers in the UK who are concerned about the well-being of relatives stranded overseas. The number is 020 7008 0000.
An MOD spokesman said:
"Following this morning's COBRA meeting and the Prime Minister's statement, the Ministry of Defence is looking at how a number of Royal Navy vessels could provide support to UK Government efforts to assist British travellers stranded abroad and wishing to return home to the UK.
"We are urgently looking into the detail of how this support will work in practice but as part of the preparations we are looking at how the RN will be employed to provide assistance to the Government's wider efforts.
"HMS Albion is expected to arrive in Santander tomorrow morning where its primary role will be to collect UK Service personnel who have recently left the ongoing operation in Afghanistan. HMS Ocean is currently in southern British waters and is standing by for tasking. HMS Ark Royal, who was deployed on exercise off the north west coast of Scotland, is sailing south to provide further assistance as required.
"We are supporting detailed cross-Government planning to confirm how best we can assist."
Flights have been grounded due to the presence of a large amount of volcanic ash in the atmosphere from a volcano erupting in Iceland.

Enterprise Departs for Sea Trials

Newport News April 17, 2010 - USS Enterprise (CVN 65) departed Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard April 17 to conduct sea trials.

The ship will be testing equipment, running system checks and making certain that Enterprise is ready to be delivered to the fleet.

"It's kind of like buying a car," said Cmdr. Edward M. Galvin, Enterprise's operations officer. "You have to take the car out for a test drive to try out all of its systems. That's what we'll be doing with sea trials: taking the keys from Northrop Grumman and trying the ship out."

Also getting underway with Enterprise during the trials are key members of Northrop Grumman who will help make sure the ship is ready for the open water.

"I am very confident and hopeful that the next place we'll be pulling into will be Naval Station Norfolk," said Galvin. "I think everyone is ready to get back out to sea."

Upon the successful completion of sea trials, Northrop Grumman will deliver the ship to the fleet, and Enterprise will begin preparing for deployment.

"This will mark the culmination of our shipyard work," said Galvin. "At that point, we'll be able to shift our focus from fixing the ship to combat presence, our real job."

After the completion of sea trials, Enterprise will begin preparing for full-scale flight operations.

"The next time we go out will be for flight deck certification," said Galvin.

The end of every day marks another step closer to Enterprise beginning her 21st deployment in her 48 years of service.

Enterprise is currently conducting sea trials in preparation for her return to the fleet.