A Private Tour Aboard US Navy Ship the USS Lake Erie

On Monday, December 23rd, I was given the opportunity to get a private tour aboard the US Navy Ship the USS Lake Erie with James and Phyllis Tucker (my uncle and aunt) that were celebrating their 50th anniversary and renewing their wedding vows the following day.

My Uncle and Aunt on the back end of the USS Lake Erie.

My Uncle and Aunt on the back end of the USS Lake Erie. (Click to enlarge)

I began the day with giving them a tour of Pearl Harbor.  One thing I learned is that if you want to catch that first boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial… you need to be at Pearl Harbor very early.

At Pearl Harbor.  USS Arizona Memorial in background. (Click to enlarge)

At Pearl Harbor. USS Arizona Memorial in background. (Click to enlarge)

Unfortunately, we arrived at Pearl Harbor around 8:00 and when we got our tickets to go out to the USS Arizona the time of our departure was 12:45 in the afternoon so instead of visiting the Arizona Memorial we just cruised around Pearl Harbor.

Checking out WWII displays.

Checking out WWII displays.  (Click to enlarge)

At 10:30 I had an appointment set up with a Public Affairs Officer to meet with them at the Navy’s Pass and ID Gate.  We arrived their shortly after 10:00 and let them know that we were waiting for them at the location agreed upon.  My Uncle, Aunt and I then climbed into a Navy van where we were lead into the confines of Pearl Harbor.  I had not told my Uncle or Aunt what we were about to do previously, however, I did tell them to be prepared and wear some walking shoes.

Life on board a Navy ship requires a lot of walking and going up and down ladders and stairs.

Life on board a Navy ship requires a lot of walking and going up and down ladders and stairs

As we arrived at the USS Lake Erie my uncle said “That’s a big ship!”.  At this point I broke the news to them that we were getting a private invitation aboard the ship and I don’t know what they were thinking but I know my uncle was pretty excited about it.

Signing in to the ship and showing ID.

Signing in to the ship and showing ID

We signed in with Navy personnel fronting the ship and showed them are identification so that we could get boarding passes and then quickly made our way aboard the ship.

Learning first hand about the capabilities of the ship.

Learning first hand about the capabilities of the ship

We met Lt. Hillenbrand on board the ship and he told us that he would act as our escort around the boat.  We started at the front of the ship where Lt. Hillenbrand talked to us about the fighting capabilities of the ship and a little history about the ship.

"That's a big gun" said James Tucker.

“That’s a big gun” said James Tucker

USS Lake Erie (CG-70) is a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser of the United States Navy, named after the U.S. Navy’s decisive victory in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. She is the first U.S. Navy ship to be commissioned in Hawaii.  Lake Erie’s motto, “Courage, Determination, Peace,” honors the memory of the men who fought the Battle of Lake Erie and Mrs. Margaret Meyer. Courage to fight, Determination to win, with Peace as the ultimate goal.”

We had the first hand opportunity to see the upkeep of the ship that is done by the sailors as folks were grinding away rust and painting the ship… some folks literally using small brushes to get in the tiniest of spots.

The Commander of the Ship told us “If we take care of the ship… the ship will take care of us”.

The Commander of the Ship told us “If we take care of the ship… the ship will take care of us”

At ll:00 we made our way to the entrance of the ship as Lieutenant Commander Troy Noonen was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his time served aboard the ship as this would be his last day on the ship after serving on her for since May of 2011.

The Commander gives Lt. Noonen a certificate for his time aboard the ship.

The Commander gives Lt. Noonen a certificate for his time aboard the ship

Seeing Lt. Noonen off of the ship:

Lt. Noonens last moment on USS Lake Erie.

Lt. Noonen’s last moment on USS Lake Erie

We then continued on with our tour of the ship where we got to see the helicopter pad and where they store the helicopter and they explained how the helicopter was brought inside of the ship when not in use.

The helicopter pad.

The helicopter pad

We then moved to the bridge of the ship where we got to see where the ship is steered from… of course my uncle wanted to sit in the “Captain’s Chair”!  They talked to us about the general characteristics of the ship and how it was steered and what each seat was for within the bridge.

"You think the Captain would mine if I sat in his chair?"

“You think the Captain would mind if I sat in his chair?”

My uncle, aunt and I all learned a lot about the ship on our brief time above her.  I of course couldn’t get off the ship w/out landing another coin for my collection!

At the helm of the USS Lake Erie

At the helm of the USS Lake Erie

Here is a video of what they did back in September:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/pLnQ4SxTOQU]

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) successfully conducted a flight test today of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, resulting in the intercept of a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB guided missile.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (8:30 p.m. EDT), a complex separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew northwest towards a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, the USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the target. The first SM-3 that was launched successfully intercepted the target warhead. This was the first salvo mission of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles launched against a single separating target. Official U.S. Navy Video courtesy Missile Defense Agency www.mda.mil

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