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

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Missile Defense System Intercepts Target in Test Off Kauai

The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Pacific Command and sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie conducted a successful flight test today of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, intercepting a ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean.

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The Lake Erie-launched missile successfully intercepted a complex short-range ballistic missile target. (U.S. Navy photo) Click to Enlarge

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The Lake Erie-launched missile successfully intercepted a complex short-range ballistic missile target. (U.S. Navy photo) Click to Enlarge

A complex separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, and flew northwest toward a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. 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, officials said, adding that they will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

The test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, capable of engaging longer-range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles, officials said. This was an operationally realistic test, as the target’s launch time and bearing are not known in advance, they added, and the target complex was the most difficult target engaged to date.

This was the fourth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and the 27th successful intercept in 33 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.

Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 63rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 79 flight test attempts since 2001.

Navy – Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Test Off Kauai Last Night

The Missile Defense Agency and Navy sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie conducted a successful flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system yesterday, Pentagon officials reported.

USS Lake Erie (CG 70) fires a Standard Missile-2 during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from Jun. 20 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of the sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise that began in 1971. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Derek R. Sanchez/RELEASED

USS Lake Erie (CG 70) fires a Standard Missile-2 during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from Jun. 20 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of the sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise that began in 1971. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Derek R. Sanchez/RELEASED

In the test, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 4.0 weapon system and a Standard Missile 3 Block IB missile intercepted a separating ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean.

A separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, and flew northwest toward a broad ocean area. 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 the SM-3 Block IB missile.

The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space based on guidance from Aegis BMD weapon system and released its kinetic warhead. The warhead acquired the target re-entry vehicle, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the target.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, officials said, and program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

Last night’s event, designated Flight Test Maritime 19, was the third consecutive successful intercept test of the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system and the SM-3 Block IB guided missile, and the 25th successful intercept in 31 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.

In this image provided by the US Navy a ballistic threat target missile is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii, Saturday Nov. 1, 2008 enroute to an intercept over an open ocean area northwest of Kauai. The target missile was successfully intercepted by a Standard Missile - 3 (SM-3) launched from the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton. However a second threat target missile was not successfully destroyed by the USS Hopper according to the Navy. (AP Photo/US Navy)

In this image provided by the US Navy a ballistic threat target missile is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii, Saturday Nov. 1, 2008 enroute to an intercept over an open ocean area northwest of Kauai. The target missile was successfully intercepted by a Standard Missile – 3 (SM-3) launched from the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton. However a second threat target missile was not successfully destroyed by the USS Hopper according to the Navy. (AP Photo/US Navy)

Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 59th successful hit-to-kill intercept in 74 flight tests since 2001, officials said.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System. The MDA and the Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

Aegis Missile Defense System Intercepts Target in Test Off Kauai

The Missile Defense Agency and sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie conducted a successful flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system today, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean by a Standard Missile-3 Block IA guided missile.

At 4:10 a.m. EST, a unitary medium-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The target flew northwest toward a broad area of the Pacific Ocean.

USS Lake Erie (CG 70) fires a Standard Missile-2 during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from Jun. 20 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of the sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise that began in 1971. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Derek R. Sanchez/RELEASED

USS Lake Erie (CG 70) fires a Standard Missile-2 during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from Jun. 20 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of the sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise that began in 1971. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Derek R. Sanchez/RELEASED Stock Photo)

The in-orbit Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrators, or STSS-D, detected and tracked the target, and forwarded track data to the USS Lake Erie. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense weapon system, used “Launch on Remote” doctrine to engage the target.

The ship developed a fire control solution from the STSS-D track and launched the SM-3 Block IA guided missile about five minutes after target launch. The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space and released its kinetic warhead. The warhead acquired the target re-entry vehicle, diverted into its path, and, using only the force of a direct impact, engaged and destroyed the target.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, officials said. Program officials will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test, they added.

Today’s event, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-20, or FTM-20, was a demonstration of the ability of space-based assets to provide mid-course fire control quality data to an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ship, extending the battle space, providing the ability for longer-range intercepts and defense of larger areas, officials said.

FTM-20 is the 24th successful intercept in 30 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002. Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 58th successful hit-to-kill intercept in 73 flight tests since 2001.

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense is the sea-based component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System. The Aegis BMD engagement capability defeats short- to intermediate-range, unitary and separating, midcourse-phase ballistic missile threats with the SM-3, as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the SM-2 Block IV missile.

The MDA and the Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

New Missile Defense Test Site Planned in Hawaii

Media Release:

The United States is expected in 2013 to begin work on a new testing and training installation in Hawaii for a land-based variant of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, Aviation Week reported (see GSN, Jan. 25).

“There will be an Aegis Ashore facility in Hawaii,” said James Sheridan, U.S. Navy Aegis programs director for defense contractor Lockheed Martin. The Obama administration plans to adapt the ship-based Aegis missile interceptor system for deployment on land, in part to help safeguard U.S. and NATO forces in Europe from medium- and short-range ballistic missile strikes, according to a previous report.

The Navy wants to tap Aegis system features for following potential air-based threats to also hone in on enemy ballistic missiles, Lockheed Martin Maritime BMD Programs Vice President Lisa Callahan said. The Navy and the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency intend to assign certain Aegis warships to shoot down potential enemy missiles after their boost phase of flight.

“The Navy has embraced ballistic missile defense,” Callahan said. “The focus is on integrating air and missile defense.”

The planned test site would support work to vet and improve Aegis defenses while Lockheed Martin pursues enhancements to the technology’s ship-protection features, she added.

“We are keeping pace with the threats,” Callahan said, “which are becoming more and more complex” (Michael Fabey, Aviation Week, Feb. 10).