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Informational Briefing on Hawaii’s Planned Response to Potential Regional Military Threats

In light of recent concerns regarding North Korean nuclear and missile tests, Senator Clarence Nishihara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs will be holding an Informational Briefing on contingencies and planned responses to potential regional military threats to the State on Thursday, September 21, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the State Capitol Auditorium.

Representatives from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency will be providing a presentation on preparation and planning efforts being conducted between the counties and other Federal and State agencies and departments.
To view the hearing notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_PSM_09-21-17_INFO_.HTM

USS Cheyenne Holds Change of Command Ceremony

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) held a change of command ceremony at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 14.

In 2011 I was invited aboard the USS Cheyenne for a tour.

Cmdr. John T. Gonser relieved Cmdr. John W. Stafford as the commanding officer of Cheyenne and its crew.

Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll, commander, Submarine Group Seven, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and praised Stafford for his achievements and dynamic leadership during his three-year tenure.

“Cmdr. Stafford achieved success because he gets out of the way and lets the officers, chief petty officers and crew do their jobs,” said Correll. “Our very best commanding officers, such as John here, know that their job is to really know their Sailors, and to help every member of their crew be successful by putting them in situations where their strengths are magnified.”

Under Stafford’s leaderships, the crew of the Cheyenne earned the 2015 Squadron Seven Engineering “E” award, 2016 Battle Efficiency “E” award and the 2016 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for superior performance in battle efficiency competition.

Stafford thanked the members of the Cheyenne crew, his family, the support on the waterfront and her namesake city.

“Thank you to the great city of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” said Stafford. “One of my biggest regrets was not making it to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but all the crew members, who did attend, remarked at the love the city has for its submarine. Thank you to the patriots of middle America.”

During the ceremony, Stafford received a Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious service.

As Gonser assumed command, he praised his new crew for the incredible opportunity to continue carrying out his duty to uphold the reputation and demands of the Cheyenne.

“This ship and crew have an impressive history and reputation,” said Gonser. “While we should take pride in being part of this legacy, here is my challenge to you, and my promise to you. Together we will serve our country whenever and wherever our nation’s security demands and live to make those who came before you proud of us.”

Following his relief, Stafford will report to commander, Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan.

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, USS Cheyenne is named after the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and was the last of the 62 Los Angeles-class submarines to enter service in the U.S. Navy. Commissioned Sept. 13, 1996. Cheyenne measures more than 360-feet long and weigh more than 6,000 tons when submerged.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Recognized for Service and Contributions to the National Guard

Yesterday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) received the Charles Dick Medal of Merit from the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). The award was presented at the 139th General Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, KY in recognition of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s distinguished legislative contributions to the National Guard.

“I’m truly grateful for the privilege of serving in the Hawaii Army National Guard, and in Congress, where in both capacities, I am focused on the safety and security of the people of Hawaii and our country.

“As we are witnessing the devastation being left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, thousands of National Guard soldiers and airmen from across the country are responding to the rescue, relief, and recovery efforts. These are every day Americans who have civilian jobs, are going to school, raising families, yet who maintain constant readiness and willingness to stand up at a moment’s notice to respond to disasters here at home, and to protect the nation when duty calls. I humbled to receive this award and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, will continue to do my best every day to honor those who serve our country and make sure they have what they need to continue serving the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

“Congresswoman Gabbard joins the ranks of exceptional Hawaii elected officials, like U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, who’ve worked diligently for the National Guard not just within their state but throughout the nation. Congresswoman Gabbard is the quintessential Soldier-Statesperson who ensures the National Guard continues to be Ready and Relevant within our States and the Nation,” said Major General Arthur “Joe” Logan, Hawaii’s State Adjutant General.

Governor Ige Visits with Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Members Heading to Texas on Hurricane Harvey Relief Mission

A Hawaiʻi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam early this morning as part of the nation’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (16 Airmen in total) will initially fly to Memphis International Airport in Tennessee, from where they will transport relief supplies to the hurricane-damaged areas around Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. The Hawaiʻi Air National Guard received the request for assistance from the National Guard Bureau yesterday afternoon and was prepared to depart just after dawn today.

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaiʻi National Guard leadership were on hand to see the flight crews and maintenance personnel off at Hickam Field.

“I’m very proud of our Hawaiʻi National Guard Airmen who were able to generate this mission on very short notice,” said Gov. Ige. “Hawaiʻi stands with our brothers and sisters in Texas and I know the crew will be bringing the Aloha Spirit to a lot of people who are in great need right now.”

The C-17 has been tasked with transporting relief supplies such as generators, tactical shelters, medical supplies and field kitchens from National Guard units from other states. They anticipate they will be flying multiple missions and the return date has not yet been determined. The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard. The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.

Coast Guard Medevacs Crewmember From Tug Off Oahu

A 65-year-old crewman from the tug vessel Natoma arrived safely to Honolulu Thursday, after being medevaced by the Coast Guard 50 miles north of Oahu.

A 65-year-old crewman from the tug vessel Natoma arrived safely to Honolulu Thursday, after being medevaced by the Coast Guard approximately 60 north of Oahu. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point hoisted the crewman aboard and safely delivered him in stable condition to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu at 12:18 p.m. (U.S. Coast Guard video/Released)

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point hoisted the crewman aboard and safely delivered him in stable condition to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu at 12:18 p.m. An HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point also flew cover and provided additional communications for Dolphin aircrew.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received a request for a medevac at approximately 8:50 a.m., from the captain of the Natoma for a 65-year-old crewman who was reportedly was suffering stroke like symptoms. The vessel was approximately 70 miles offshore of Oahu at the time of the request.

Watchstanders from SCC Honolulu consulted the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon who recommended the medevac.

The Hercules aircrew was diverted from a training mission at 9:48 a.m., and the Dolphin aircrew was launched at 10:45 a.m.

“This case illustrates our units ability to remain always ready,” said Charles Turner, a command duty officer at SCC Honolulu. “Whether our crews are busy conducting a training mission on land, in the air or at sea, they are ready to respond. They were able to get this gentleman quickly to the adequate care he needed.”

The men and women of Air Station Barbers Point serve as “Guardians of the Pacific” in the largest and most culturally diverse of all Coast Guard operating areas — 12.2 million square miles of open ocean, atolls, and island nations. They enhance the readiness of the 14th District with long range patrol and logistical support capabilities, as well as quick and versatile search and rescue response using the Hercules and the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

USS John Paul Jones Intercepts Target Missile Off Coast of Hawaii

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using Standard Missile (SM) 6 guided missiles during a test off the coast of Hawaii, Aug. 29.

A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, Aug. 29. (U.S. Navy/Latonja Martin)

John Paul Jones detected and tracked a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar and onboard SM-6 missiles executed the intercept.

“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”

This test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile (FTM) 27 Event 2, marks the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

Coast Guard Rescues 2 From Sinking Vessel Off Oahu

Two men are safe after being rescued by the Coast Guard from their sinking vessel 35 miles east of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Friday.

The men were hoisted from their vessel by a rescue swimmer aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and were transferred safely back to the air station.

“This case is a textbook demonstration of the equipment you should have on board your vessel and how to use it correctly and effectively,” Charles Turner, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Our crews remain Semper Paratus 24 hour a day, 365 days a year, ready to answer the call and bring people home safely to their families.”

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received notification at 12:40 a.m., via VHF Channel 16 from the captain of the 82-foot pleasure craft Point Harris, stating his vessel was taking on water in the two forward water-tight compartments.

The men activated their emergency positioning indicating radio beacon and prepared to abandon ship after unsuccessfully energizing their dewatering pumps.

An HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point launched to the scene at 1:50 a.m., along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew at 1:58 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), homeported in Honolulu also launched to assist.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene at 2:09 a.m. to assess the situation and provide a visual. The Dolphin helicopter aircrew arrived on scene at 2:34 a.m.

The Dolphin aircrew deployed a rescue swimmer to assess the condition of the vessel. He determined quickly that the vessel was no longer safe and made the decision to hoist the two men and bring them back to the air station.

An urgent marine information broadcast notice to mariners and a hazard to navigation was issued and the vessel owner will work with Sector Honolulu response personnel to attempt salvage of the vessel.

Weather on scene was reported to be 20 mph with east winds and seas 5 to 8 feet.

No injuries were reported.

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Five Missing Army Aviators

The Coast Guard suspended the active search at noon Monday for five Army aviators who went missing Tuesday night approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point returns from a first-light flight to refuel and continue searching for five Army aviators Aug. 17, 2017. An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, prompting the joint search effort. (U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

“A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact and I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Army helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing,” said Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander, Coast Guard 14th District. “Our Coast Guard crews relied on their training and professionalism in this dynamic environment to mount the best response possible and I want to thank all our partners, the Navy, Army, the Hawaii Department of Natural Resources, Fire, Police and Ocean Safety for their extraordinary efforts. As we suspend the search we stand ready to support any future operations the Army conducts, and continue to provide any comfort we can for those suffering from this tragic loss.”

On-scene assets searched a total cumulative area of more than 72,575 sq. nautical miles (96,110 sq. statute miles) in more than 132 separate searches. The search area began off of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, but extended west beyond Kauai and Ni’ihau based on drift models.

Involved in the search were:
* Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point
* Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point
* Navy P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
* Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Honolulu
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Kauai
* UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
* CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
* Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
* Shore patrols from Kauai Fire Department
* Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
* Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
* Shore patrols from the Army and Coast Guard Sector Honolulu
* Residents of Ni’ihau Island

The search began late Tuesday following notification to the Coast Guard from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communication with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. The missing aircrew was reportedly engaged in night time training operations between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield.

The safety zone remains in effect extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statute miles) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, established by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails remain closed at this time.

Navy Ship USS John S. McCain Collides With Merchant Vessel – 10 Sailors Missing, 5 Injured

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Strait of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Gavin Shields)

There are currently 10 Sailors missing and five injured. Four of the injured were medically evacuated by a Republic of Singapore Navy Puma helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life threatening injuries. The fifth injured Sailor does not require further medical attention.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

Via Maritime Bulletin

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to Changi Naval Base. At this point, no fuel or oil is visible on the water’s surface near the ship.
Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities.

In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), RSN helicopters and Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

An MH-60S helicopter from the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is in the area providing search and rescue assistance. An additional MH-60S helicopter and MV-22 Osprey are expected to arrive soon.

Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. Damage control efforts continue while the extent of damage is being determined. The incident will be investigated.

John S. McCain family members may call the following numbers for updates: commercial from Japan: 046-816-1728; commercial from US: 011-81-46-816-1728; DSN in Japan: 243-1728; DSN from US: 315-243-1728.

Search Enters Third Day for Missing Army Aviators off Oahu

Responders enter day three in the continuing search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Friday.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point returns from a first-light flight to refuel and continue searching for five Army aviators Aug. 17, 2017. An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, prompting the joint search effort. (U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Searching are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
  • Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew from Base Honolulu
  • Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point
  • Navy P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
  • Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
  • UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
  • Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
  • Shore patrols from the Army

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point searched throughout the night and is scheduled to resume efforts Friday afternoon following sufficient crew rest.

The search area remains at as much as 50 miles offshore having expanded since the incident due to swift and dynamic currents in the area. Fixed-wing aviation assets are searching the leading edge while helicopters and vessels are concentrating efforts now 25 miles offshore.

None of the missing aviators have been located yet. Debris continues to be spotted and recovered in the area off Ka’ena Point by responders. Personnel at the joint forward operating base at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor continue to coordinate efforts.

A safety zone remains in effect extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statue mile) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, established by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails remain closed at this time.

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges. Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft along the north and west side of Oahu are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080.

The search began late Tuesday following notification to the Coast Guard from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communication with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. The missing aircrew was reportedly engaged in night time training operations between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield.

Weather on scene is similar to the previous days, with 17 mph winds, seas to 4-feet and isolated showers. Visibility is good.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Newly-Activated Hawaiʻi Army Reserve Detachment; Kicks off 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta

Today on Oʻahu, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) delivered remarks at the 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) Activation Ceremony at Schofield Barracks and honored the unit’s new commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gavin Tsuda, a native of Honolulu. The 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD is the only division level MCP-OD in the Army Reserve, and joins nine National Guard MCP-ODs across the country being assigned to active duty divisions in order to provide headquarters elements with the additional manpower for areas such as intelligence, operations and logistics.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard addresses the newly-activated 25th Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “I’m grateful to have served Hawaiʻi and our country alongside LTC Tsuda, who personifies what it means to be a citizen soldier. As a soldier, he is known for his attention to detail, taking care of soldiers, upholding the highest standards, and mentoring junior soldiers to help them grow and better fulfill their own duties and assignments. As a civilian, he is committed to his community, and has dedicated much of his career to developing affordable housing for underserved communities in Hawaiʻi—a tremendous need in our state. As LTC Tsuda blazes a new trail as the first commander of the 25th Infantry Division MCP-OD, he will continue to set the bar high for this unit and its soldiers.”

Later in the day, the congresswoman kicked off the annual Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta at its opening reception and honored the 2017 recipients of the Daniel K. Inouye Leadership and Community Service Award—Assistant Race Director Natasha Haine and the late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai. The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond the call to serve, dedicating themselves to honoring and supporting our wounded warriors, their loved ones, and our Gold Star families. Past recipients of the award include Judge Edward Kubo, Marc Haine, Gervin Miyamoto, Darryl Wong, Penny Kalua, Liz Sabog, and Race Director Matthew McCarville.

“Each year, this event harnesses the healing power of the ocean and our supportive community as our veterans and their families continue to recover from the wounds of war both visible and invisible. As we gather here tonight, the search continues for five of our own who are still missing off our shores—a heart aching reminder of the risks our servicemembers take every single day, whether in training or in combat, as they put their lives on the line for the security of our nation. Our hearts are with them, their families, and our first responders,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The congresswoman will join wounded warriors, Gold Star families, and Hawaiʻi’s veteran community in paddling in the 2017 Na Koa Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta off the shores of Fort DeRussy this Saturday.

Search Enters Second Day for 5 Missing Army Aviators Off Oahu

Responders enter day two in the continuing the search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Thursday.

Searching are:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
  • UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
  • Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
  • Shore patrols from the Army

En route:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew are replacing the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and will head to the scene from Base Honolulu.

The search area has expanded to as much as 50 miles offshore due to the swift and dynamic currents in the area. Fixed-wing aviation assets are searching the leading edge while helicopters and vessels are concentrating efforts 15 – 20 miles offshore. Additional assets are being considered and may join the search throughout the day.

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205), a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu is shown coordinating search efforts with a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu, for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter off Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 17, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

None of the aviators have been located yet. Debris continues to be spotted and recovered in the area off Ka’ena Point by responders. Personnel at the joint forward incident command post at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor continue to coordinate search and rescue efforts.

A safety zone extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statue mile) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, was established by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails are currently closed at this time.

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges. Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft along the north and west side of Oahu are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu received a call at 10:08 p.m. Tuesday from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communications with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of response assets.

The two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.

Weather on scene is currently 17 mph winds with 4 foot seas and isolated showers.

Army Helicopter Down – Search Continues for 5 Missing Aviators Off Oahu

Responders are continuing the search for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Wednesday.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield and a fireboat crew from the Honolulu Fire Department are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Searching are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu
  • 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu
  • CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • MH-60R Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37
  • P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay
  • Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
  • Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services and a crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources

En route is:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu

None of the aviators have been located yet. Debris has been spotted and recovered near Ka’ena Point by responders. A joint forward incident command post has been established at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor to coordinate search and rescue efforts.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu, are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu received a call at 10:08 p.m. Tuesday from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communications with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of response assets.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.

Weather on scene is currently 17 mph winds with 6 foot seas.

Gabbard-Backed Bill to Expand, Extend GI Bill Signed Into Law

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), co-chair of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, released the statement below after legislation she helped introduce to improve and extend GI Bill education benefits for veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents was signed into law today.

The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously, and is widely supported by veteran and education advocacy organizations, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Enlisted Association of The National Guard of The United States, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the STEM Education Coalition, and others.

“Every single day, roughly 500 veterans are transitioning from military life to civilian life, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans who have returned home since 9/11 alone. We have a responsibility to ensure that our troops and veterans are set up for success in the 21st century economy when they lay down the uniform and transition to civilian life. This bipartisan legislation enhances existing benefits, expands eligibility, eliminates bureaucratic barriers, and empowers our troops, veterans and their dependents to get the quality education they’ve earned and deserve. More than 7,000 Hawaiʻi veterans used their earned education benefit to open the door to new opportunities for them and their families last year, and this law will help our next generation of service members to further build on this progress,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R.3218) will apply to all new enlistees in the military, and will:

  • Remove time restrictions to use the GI Bill, enabling future eligible recipients to use their GI bill benefits for their entire lives, as opposed to the current 15-year timeline
  • Simplify the benefit for future service members by consolidating the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill into a single program over time, which would reduce the VA’s administrative costs
  • Provide significant increases in GI Bill funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents
  • Provide 100% GI Bill eligibility to Post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients
  • Restore eligibility for service members whose school closes in the middle of a semester and create a pilot program that would pay for veterans to take certain high technology courses.

Coast Guard, Army Responding to Report of Downed Army Helicopter Off Oahu

Coast Guard and Army personnel are responding to a report of a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with five crew aboard approximately two miles west of Kaena Point, Oahu, Wednesday.

A US Army (USA) UH-60L Black hawk Helicopter flies a low-level mission over Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Responding are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364) and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu
  • 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu
  • UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
  • Shore patrol and a boatcrew from Honolulu Fire Department

A debris field was spotted near Kaena Point by the Coast Guard Hercules and Army Black Hawk aircrews at 11:28 p.m. Tuesday. Responders are currently searching for the five missing aircrewmen.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center in Honolulu received a call at 10:08 p.m. Tuesday from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communications with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of response assets.

Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting training between Kaena Point and Dillingham Airfield at the time communications were lost.
Weather on scene is currently 11 mph winds with 2 foot seas.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honors Hawaiʻi Purple Heart Recipients at Official Medal Presentation Ceremony

At the Oʻahu Veterans Center today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Rainbow Chapter 483 (Honolulu) in honoring twelve recipients of the Purple Heart Medal at an official presentation ceremony.

The recipients, who included veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, were awarded the Purple Heart Medal by the Army for their wounds in combat, but never received a formal presentation of their medals, as is required by Army regulations. The congresswoman presented each honoree with the Purple Heart Medal and delivered remarks about the significance of the official presentation ceremony, the high cost of war and the critical importance of caring for our veterans when they return home from war.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Those making decisions about when and where to go to war often forget who pays the high price—our veterans who return home with wounds visible and invisible, our servicemembers on active duty, and their families. The veterans we recognized today have waited more than forty years for the recognition they have earned and deserve. Today’s ceremony closes the circle for these veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much.”

Addressing the recipients and their family members, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Today we honor you with a medal that none of you wanted or asked for, but that is earned by those who sacrifice most. You stand in the ranks of people like Hawaiʻi’s Senator Daniel Inouye, President John. F. Kennedy, and so many more. We honor you, as we do them, our nation’s most prominent and distinguished heroes.”

Questions and Answers: Hawaii and the Threat of a North Korean Missile Strike

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1. Why now? Has the North Korea missile threat increased so much recently that you were urged to begin preparations for an attack?

Preparations for the North Korea missile and nuclear threat began in late 2016 when this assessment suggested early preparations should be initiated. Hawaii has maintained plans to cope with missile testing since 2009. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) conducts a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) every year. This process examines potential hazards and threats to the State of Hawaii including natural (hurricane, tsunami), technological (cyberterrorism) and man-made (acts of terrorism) hazards.

2. I have heard that planning for a nuclear attack from North Korea is futile given most of the population will be killed or critically injured. Is that true?

No. Current estimates of human casualties based on the size (yield) of North Korean nuclear weapon technology strongly suggests an explosion less than 3 miles in diameter. More than 90% of the population would survive the direct effects of such an explosion. Planning and preparedness are essential to protect those survivors from delayed residual radiation (fallout) and other effects of the attack such as the loss of utilities and communication systems, structural fires, etc.

3. How will the public learn of a possible missile launch from North Korea?

Approximately 5 minutes into the launch sequence, the U.S. Pacific Command will notify the Hawaii State Warning Point (SWP) that a missile is in route from North Korea. The SWP is staffed on a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week basis by skilled emergency management professionals.
Upon receipt of the notification, the SWP will activate the ‘Attack-Warning’ signal on all outdoor sirens statewide (wailing sound) and transmit a warning advisory on radio, television and cellular telephones within 2 minutes.

4. What should Hawaii residents and visitors do when they hear the ‘Attack-Warning’ siren signal?

All residents and visitors must immediately seek shelter in a building or other substantial structure. Once the sirens sound, residents and visitors will have less than 12 to 15 minutes before missile impact.

5. Was the recent public messaging recommending that each individual/family maintain a 14-day survival kit made because of the North Korea threat?

The 14-day recommendation was made following an intensive analysis suggesting that Hawaii could experience a major disruption to maritime transportation (shipping and ports) in the event of a major hurricane. This recommendation does however complement the potential need for 14 days of sheltering following a nuclear attack.

6. When will schools begin nuclear drills?

Schools are not expected to conduct drills specific to a nuclear attack. Existing drills known as ‘lock down’ drills serve the same purpose. These drills are regularly conducted at all schools statewide and are considered more than adequate in terms of protecting students and staff.

7. When will the new ‘Attack-Warning’ siren signal will available and how will it be tested?

The new (second) ‘Attack-Warning’ siren signal (wailing sound) will be available for use beginning in November 2017. The signal will be tested on the first working day of every month thereafter together with the existing ‘Attention-Alert’ signal (steady sound) used for other emergencies.

8. Are there public shelters (blast or fallout) designated in our communities?

No. There are currently no designated shelters in the State of Hawaii at this time. The short warning time (12 to 15 minutes) would not allow for residents or visitors to locate such a shelter in advance of missile impact.

9. How long will residents and visitors need to remain sheltered following a nuclear detonation?

In most cases, only until the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has assessed residual radiation and fallout. This could be as little as a few hours or as long as 14 days.

10.  What is fallout?

Debris including soil, fragments of destroyed buildings and other material will be drawn into the cloud of a nuclear detonation and propelled into the sky. This debris will begin to settle back to earth within hours. This debris includes residual radiation that poses a significant health risk to humans and animals.

11. How can I tell if nuclear radiation is present?

Nuclear radiation cannot be perceived by the human senses (sight, smell, etc.). Specialized instruments are needed to detect its presence and intensity. Those instruments are available for use by public safety agencies across the State of Hawaii.

12. How long will nuclear radiation persist after a nuclear detonation?

A: Radiation from nuclear detonation in the form of fallout decays very rapidly. Days to weeks in most situations.

13. Are the neighbor island safe?

We do not know. North Korean missile technology may not be adequately advanced to accurately target a specific island or location. Although most analysts believe the desired target will be Oahu given the concentration of military and government facilities, a missile may stray and impact the open ocean or even a neighbor island. All areas of the State of Hawaii must consider the possibility of missile impact.

14. How will the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency communicate with the public post-impact? I have heard that most broadcast stations and other forms of electronic communications (cellular telephones, radio, television) will be damaged or destroyed.

When a nuclear weapon detonates, one of the direct effects produced is called an Electromagnetic Pulse (or EMP). EMP has the potential of destroying electrical devices and telecommunications systems. It may also disrupt electrical power and other essential utilities. Broadcast stations many miles distant from the explosion (such as on another island) will survive EMP effects. Our current plans are to utilize AM and FM broadcast radio stations on unaffected islands to provide essential information to the public. This means residents and visitors should include a battery-powered AM-FM radio in their 14-day survival kit.

15. How can I learn more about the nuclear threat and preparedness?

Public outreach and online information is available to all Hawaii residents.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Email: HawaiiEma@hawaii.gov Web: http://dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/ Telephone: 808 -733-4300 or contact your county emergency management agency:

  • Kauai Emergency Management Agency 808-241-1800
  • Honolulu Department of Emergency Management 808-723-8960
  • Maui Emergency management Agency 808-270-7285
  • Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency 808-935-0031

Ready.Gov website https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-blast

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 15-Year-Old Captain Cook Girl

Hawaiʻi Island police are still searching for a 15-year-old Captain Cook girl who was reported missing. Irene Hernandez was last seen in Hilo on (December 8, 2016).

She is described as Hispanic, 5-feet-one-inch, 150 pounds, stocky build, tan complexion, with shoulder length brown hair and hazel eyes.

Police ask anyone with any information about her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or contact Shawn Lathrop at (808) 327-6273 or email at Shawn.Lathrop@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Rear Adm. Fort Becomes Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

With a reading of his orders to a packed “all-hands call” of Sailors, Airmen and DoD civilians, Rear Adm. Brian P. Fort became commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Aug. 9.

Rear Admiral Brian P. Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and commander of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. US Navy Photo

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii has leadership oversight of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Oahu and Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai. Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific has leadership oversight of the 10 surface ships homeported in Hawaii.

“It is a remarkable privilege to return for duty in Hawaii,” Fort said. “The Region/MIDPAC team has an amazing reputation of integrity, service and commitment, and I couldn’t be happier to be part of this amazing team.”

As an operations officer Fort served aboard USS Ingersoll (DD 990) and USS Lake Erie (CG 70), both formerly homeported in Pearl Harbor. He also served as the executive officer aboard Hawaii-based USS Port Royal (CG 73) in the wake of 9/11/2001.

A change of command ceremony with Rear Adm. John Fuller was canceled in June when Fort was notified of an immediate assignment to Yokosuka, Japan to be an investigating officer of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 60) collision. The Navy has not released results of the investigation.

“While I am not able to speak about the details of the investigation,” Fort said, “I would ask you to continue to keep the Fitzgerald Ohana in your thoughts and prayers for the seven shipmates we lost in the early morning hours of June 17th.”

To his new Region/MIDPAC team Fort says, “Together we can do great things. Our mission is a sacred trust: the defense of our nation. Together, we can all be part of something larger than ourselves.”

Hawaii Army National Guard Units Set to Deploy in 2018/2019

The Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG) has just been notified by the Department of Defense about upcoming unit deployments to the Central and European Command’s areas of operation starting in the spring of 2018. A total of six units and approximately 1000 soldiers have received a Notification of Sourcing (NOS) which includes two aviation units from the 103rd Troop Command and elements from the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT).NOS requirements are generated by a Combatant Commander (CENTCOM, PACOM, EUCOM, etc.) based upon operational needs. For the Army, United States Forces Command (FORSCOM) will delegate the requirement to an Army Component (Army Active Duty, Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserves) to identify a unit to fulfill the requirement. Units are selected based upon readiness levels and timing within a readiness model. This notification formalizes the process by which a unit is resourced (training and funding) to prepare for deployment. It is not guaranteed that every unit named on a NOS list will be alerted to mobilize and then deploy.

The units named in the NOS are:

  1. Company B, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment (CH-47 Chinook helicopter)
  2. All HIARNG detachments of 1st Battalion, 189th General Support Aviation Battalion (HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, Medical Evacuation)
  3. Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 29th IBCT (Brigade Staff)
  4. 227th Brigade Engineer Battalion
  5. 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment
  6. 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery
  • The 1-171st Aviation has deployed to Iraq in 2004, Afghanistan in 2010 and 2013.
  • The 1-189th GSAB is a brand new unit and this will be their first deployment.
  • The 29th IBCT has deployed to Iraq in 2004, Kuwait in 2008, and elements to Afghanistan in 2012.

Currently, the HIARNG’s 297th Fire Fighting Team have deployed in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel to provide first-responder and firefighting support to the U.S. Army on Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base.

Exact dates, locations, numbers or missions have not been finalized. The NOS gives the HIARNG sourcing to plan and coordinate future training necessary for deployment. Soldiers from the affected units have been informing family and their civilian employers about the possibility of an upcoming deployment.