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:

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

Navy Issues Record of Decision for Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement

The U.S. Navy has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS).

A Navy ship at Pearl Harbor last week.

A Navy ship at Pearl Harbor last week.

Following several years of research, environmental analysis, and public involvement, the Navy has chosen Alternative 2, the Preferred Alternative described in the HSTT Final EIS/OEIS, to accomplish the Proposed Action. This alternative includes establishment of new range capabilities, adjustments to the types and levels of training and testing and modifications to existing capabilities.

The Navy’s Proposed Action is to conduct training and testing activities – which will include the use of active sonar and explosives – throughout the in-water areas around the Hawaiian Islands, off the coast of Southern California, in the transit corridor between Hawaii and Southern California, and at Navy pierside locations. The Proposed Action also includes sonar maintenance and gunnery exercises conducted concurrently with ship transits as well as pierside testing conducted as part of overhaul, modernization, maintenance and repair activities at Navy piers located in Hawaii and Southern California.

“This EIS was developed with the best available science and will enable the Navy to continue training and testing in Hawaii and Southern California while minimizing potential injury to the environment, as we have safely done for more than 60 years,” said Alex Stone, senior environmental planner for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and HSTT EIS project manager. “This training and testing is essential for the fleet to fulfill its mission of defending the nation and the global commons and leading America’s rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

The Navy prepared the EIS/OEIS to assess potential environmental impacts from its training and testing activities and to support authorizations, permits and consultations required under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and other relevant statutes.

The ROD is now available to the public. The document and the HSTT Final EIS/OEIS can be found online at www.HSTTEIS.com.

 

Court Rules That Federal Agency Failed to Protect Thousands of Whales and Dolphins From Navy Sonar

West Coast Marine Mammals Continue to Be Harmed by Deafening Underwater Noise

A federal court has ruled that National Marine Fisheries Service failed to protect thousands of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions from U.S. Navy warfare training exercises along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

(July 3, 2013) The guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) prepares to moor alongside the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) in Khalifa Bin Salman port, Bahrain during a port visit. Monterey and Shoup are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Released)

(July 3, 2013) The guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) prepares to moor alongside the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) in Khalifa Bin Salman port, Bahrain during a port visit. Monterey and Shoup are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Released)

In an opinion released late Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas, U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California, found that the agency’s approval of the Navy’s training activities in its Northwest Training Range Complex failed to use the best available science to assess the extent and duration of impacts to whales and other marine mammals. The decision requires the federal agency to reassess its permits to ensure that the Navy’s training activities comply with protective measures in the Endangered Species Act.

“This is a victory for dozens of protected species of marine mammals, including critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins and porpoises,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney representing a coalition of conservation and Northern California Indian Tribes. “NMFS must now employ the best science and require the Navy to take reasonable and effective actions to avoid and minimize harm from its training activities.”

The Navy uses a vast area of the West Coast, stretching from Northern California to the Canadian border, for training. Activities include anti-submarine warfare exercises involving tracking aircraft and sonar; surface-to-air gunnery and missile exercises; air-to-surface bombing exercises; and extensive testing for several new weapons systems.

In 2010 and 2012, the Fisheries Service authorized the Navy to harm or “take” marine mammals and other sea life through 2015. The permits allow the Navy to conduct increased training exercises that can harm marine mammals and disrupt their migration, nursing, breeding or feeding, primarily as a result of harassment through exposure to the use of sonar.

New science from 2010 and 2011 shows that whales and other marine mammals are far more sensitive to sonar and other noise than previously thought. In permitting the Navy’s activities, NMFS ignored this new information. The court found that the agency violated its legal duty to use this “best available data” when evaluating impacts to endangered whales and other marine life.

The court also rejected the agency’s decision to limit its review to only a five-year period when the Navy has been clear that its training activities will continue indefinitely. The court held that NMFS’s limited review “ignores the realities of the Navy’s acknowledged long-term, ongoing activities in the [Northwest Training Range],” because “a series of short-term analyses can mask the long-term impact of an agency action. … [T]he segmented analysis is inadequate to address long-term effects of the Navy’s acknowledged continuing activities in the area.”

“This is an important win for the environment and for the tribes’ traditional, cultural and subsistence ways in their ancestral coastal territories,” said Hawk Rosales, executive director of the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. “Marine mammals now stand a better chance of being protected from the Navy’s war testing and training off our coastline.”

According to the ruling, the Fisheries Service must now reassess the permits using the latest science, which could trigger a requirement that the Navy do more to protect whales and dolphins in its ongoing training exercises.

“The Navy’s Northwest Training Range is the size of the state of California, yet not one square inch was off-limits to the most harmful aspects of naval testing and training activities,” said Zak Smith, staff attorney for NRDC. “NMFS relied on faulty science when approving the Navy’s permits and thousands of marine mammals suffered the consequences.”

“Today’s ruling gives whales and other marine mammals a fighting chance against the Navy,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This ruling means that the Navy must take greater precautions to protect marine life.”

The Navy’s mid-frequency sonar has been implicated in mass strandings of marine mammals in, among other places, the Bahamas, Greece, the Canary Islands and Spain. In 2004, during war games near Hawaii, the Navy’s sonar was implicated in a mass stranding of up to 200 melon-headed whales in Hanalei Bay. In 2003 the USS Shoup,operating in Washington’s Haro Strait, exposed a group of endangered Southern Resident killer whales to mid-frequency sonar, causing the animals to stop feeding and attempt to flee the sound. Even when sonar use does not result in these or other kinds of physical injury, it can disrupt feeding, migration and breeding or drive whales from areas vital to their survival.

“In 2003, NMFS learned firsthand the harmful impacts of Navy sonar in Washington waters when active sonar blasts distressed members of J pod, one of our resident pods of endangered orcas,” said Kyle Loring, staff attorney at Friends of the San Juans. “The use of deafening noises just does not belong in sensitive areas or marine sanctuaries where whales and dolphins use their acute hearing to feed, navigate, and raise their young.”

Said Marcie Keever, Oceans & Vessels program director at Friends of the Earth: “Recent research confirms that the 82 remaining endangered Southern Resident orcas use coastal waters within the Navy’s training range to find salmon during the critical fall and winter months. NMFS must do more to assure that the Navy is not pushing these critically endangered orcas and other endangered marine mammals even closer to extinction.”

Earthjustice represents the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Friends of the San Juans and has partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in the lawsuit.

 

USS Pearl Harbor… In Pearl Harbor

Admiral Cecil Haney posted the following on Facebook this morning:

USS Pearl Harbor’s port visit to its namesake this weekend brings the ship one step closer to her San Diego home after supporting our 8th annual Pacific Partnership (PP) mission.

USS Pearl Harbor in Pearl Harbor.  US NAVY Photo

USS Pearl Harbor in Pearl Harbor. US NAVY Photo

Since May, the ship and her outstanding crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and multinational civilians/military personnel has served as the centerpiece of an important mission to improve disaster relief response in Oceania. PP’13 marked the first time that partner nations — Australia and New Zealand — took the lead of individual phases, a significant commitment milestone for future missions (For more, see http://www.cpf.navy.mil/pacific-partnership/2013/). Named after a place that reminds people of a world war, it is fitting that USS Pearl Harbor and her crew spent the last few months advancing partnerships in a multilateral mission to enhance stability, security and peace in the Pacific. Bravo Zulu!

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Man Who Fell Overboard in North Pacific

The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing mariner who fell overboard from a sailing vessel in the North Pacific early Sunday.

US Coast Guard HH65 Dauphine

US Coast Guard HH65 Dauphine

The search for Luke Stimson was suspended at 9 a.m. Tuesday pending any further developments. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy crews searched approximately 2,340 square miles in a search area 575 miles west of Midway Atoll. Coast Guard and Navy crews searched a total of 50 hours over the course of three days.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu were notified by Marine Rescue Coordination Center Falmouth, United Kingdom, that Stimson, one of the two-person crew, had fallen overboard from the 38-foot sailing vessel Jonetsu. Stimson was reportedly wearing a yellow lifejacket and was conscious when he fell into the water. The second crewmember, Laura Vernon, incorrectly identified previously as Laura Beinon, did not have enough sailing experience to safely navigate the vessel alone.

The U.S. Navy warship Peleliu (LHA 5), a Tarawa-Class amphibious assault ship, was diverted from their homeward bound transit to assist in the search. The Peleliu deployed two MH-60 helicopters at approximately 5 a.m. Sunday to conduct search patterns. One MH-60 helicopter located the sailing vessel and conducted a basket hoist to rescue Vernon at approximately 12 p.m. Sunday. She was taken safely to the Peleliu with no reported injuries.

Two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crews from Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, alternated searches from Midway Atoll and Wake Island throughout Sunday, Sunday night and Monday. During Sunday night, two Navy MH-60 helicopters and two CH-46 helicopters conducted six more searches of the area.

“We offer our thoughts and prayers to the Stimson and Vernon families during this difficult time,” said Jennifer Conklin, a JRCC Honolulu search and rescue specialist. “Suspending a search is never an easy decision, nor is it one that is made quickly.”

For more information contact the Coast Guard’s 14th District Public Affairs Office at (808) 535-3230.

Hawaii-Based Guided-Missile Cruiser USS Chosin to Depart for Western Pacific Deployment

Sailors aboard the Hawaii-based Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) will depart April 30 for a scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

In this file photo, USS Chosin (CG 65) fires a MK 45 5-inch gun during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr.)

In this file photo, USS Chosin (CG 65) fires a MK 45 5-inch gun during exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr.)

While deployed, Chosin will conduct theater security operations with partner nations while providing deterrence, promoting peace and security, preserving freedom of the seas and providing humanitarian assistance/disaster response.

“A little over a year ago I realized a lifelong dream when I assumed command of this mighty warship and its exceptional crew,” said Chosin Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Kelly. “The crew of Chosin have prepared well for this deployment. We are trained, we are focused, and we are ready to operate forward.”

Kelly added, “We are privileged to be part of the Navy’s presence in the Asia-Pacific Region and to represent Surface Group MIDPAC and U.S. Pacific Fleet. We look forward to operating with our allies, partners and friends in the months ahead — wherever we are needed.”

Chosin is one of 11 surface ships of Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. USS Chosin is the first U.S. Navy warship named in commemoration of the First Marine Division’s heroism at the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. The ship’s motto is “invictus,” Latin for invincible or unconquered.

U.S. Navy guided-missile cruisers perform primarily multi-mission [Air Warfare (AW), Undersea Warfare (USW), Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) and Surface Warfare (SUW)] surface combatants capable of supporting carrier strike groups, amphibious forces, or of operating independently and as flagships of surface action groups.

Commander, U.S. Naval Survace Group Middle Pacific leads and manages the overall warfighting capability of the Surface Combatant Force homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), HI to achieve the highest levels of combat readiness; to coordinate with external organizations for products and services to directly support Surface Combatant Force mission readiness; and to support the Type Commanders and Numbered Fleet Commanders in the development of Surface Warfare requirements, policies, programs, standards, and business practices to meet operational readiness goals.

U.S. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line.

 

Coast Guard and Navy Rescue One Man – Searching for Another Who Fell Overboard

The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy have rescued one mariner from a sailboat in distress and are searching for another who fell overboard 500 miles west of Midway Atoll Sunday.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu was contacted by Marine Rescue Coordination Center Falmouth, United Kingdom, at 11:30 p.m., notifying them that one of two crewmembers had fallen overboard from a 38-foot sailing vessel. The 35 year old man overboard is wearing a yellow lifejacket with a light and was reportedly conscious when he went into the water. Both crewmembers are citizens of the United Kingdom and the remaining person aboard was described as an inexperienced sailor.

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew out of Air Station Barbers Point on the island of Oahu, Hawaii deployed at 2:15 a.m. to begin a search of the area. Due to the distance and time of travel from Honolulu, a second HC-130 crew is deploying to alternate search times as crews recover at Wake Island. The crews have the capability to deploy a life raft should they locate the missing mariner.

The U.S. Navy warship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), a Tarawa Class amphibious assault ship was diverted from their homeward bound transit to assist in the search.

The Peleliu deployed two MH-60 helicopters at approximately 5 a.m. to conduct search patterns. One MH-60 helicopter conducted a basket hoist and rescued the crewmember from the sailing vessel.

On scene weather conditions are winds of 25mph and six foot seas.

 

USS Chung-Hoon to Deploy to Western Pacific

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) will depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam April 2 for an independent deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

The ship’s departure, originally planned for Feb. 28, was deferred to better refine sequestration planning and execution.

Commanded by Cmdr. Justin Orlich, the ship and its crew of nearly 280 Sailors will conduct integrated operations in conjunction with allies and partners.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

“Our team is looking forward to executing the mission,” Orlich said. “This is why we train. This is why we remain ready. This is what we do: operate forward.”

The Commanding Officer gave me this coin after we had lunch on the USS Chung Hoon

The Commanding Officer gave me this coin after we had lunch on the USS Chung Hoon

The ship’s motto is, “Imua e na Koa Kai” which translates to “Go Forward Sea Warriors.” As part of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and Destroyer Squadron 31, Chung-Hoon operates forward, maintaining the highest warfighting readiness to preserve the freedom of vital sea lanes.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Chung-Hoon is a guided-missile destroyer that is a multi-mission anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatant — an important component of the Navy’s rebalancing of assets and forces to the Pacific.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

USS Chung-Hoon is named in honor of native Hawaiian Rear Adm. Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon, recipient of the Navy Cross and Silver Star in World War II for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of USS Sigsbee (DD 502) from May 1944 to October 1945.

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Photo from when I went to sea on the USS Chung-Hoon

Guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatants, an important component of the Navy’s rebalancing of assets and forces to the Pacific.

 

Navy is Renewing Authorizations That Will Enable Them to Continue to Train and Test Live Sonar and Explosives at Sea

Rear Admiral Kevin R. Slates

Rear Admiral Kevin R. Slates

By Rear Adm. Kevin R. Slates
Director, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division

The Navy is renewing authorizations that will enable us to continue to train and test live sonar and explosives at sea for another five years (2019). The process of renewing authorizations involves analyzing the possible effects of training and testing and making that data publicly available in the form of the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing environmental impact statement (HSTT EIS) and the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing environmental impact statement (AFTT EIS).

Some of the information in those EISs has been misrepresented and exaggerated. Lost in the discussion during a recent meeting of the California Coastal Commission is this fact: the best available science—and the Navy’s long track record of conducting similar training and testing—indicate our proposed activities will continue to have negligible effects on marine mammal populations. For a better understanding of these issues, read what several well-respected marine scientists have to say.

Navy Seal

Each EIS includes numbers estimating marine mammal exposures to sonar or explosives training and testing. Those numbers are based on mathematical modeling that assumes the maximum exposure/worst case scenarios, and are often mistakenly cited with alarm by people who do not recognize or accept that:

  • Live sonar and explosives training prepares Sailors to succeed in combat. The threats our Sailors face in the world’s hot spots are not restricted to convenient times or places, nor can simulators or inert weapons fully prepare them for those threats. That is why our training must be both broad and realistic.
  • Exposure to sonar does not equate to injury. Laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) define human impacts to marine mammals in degrees, ranging from simply hearing a sound, to mild behavioral effects, to injury and mortality.  The scientific analysis indicates that while marine mammals may be exposed to sonar during Navy training and testing, the vast majority (if not all) of marine mammals that are exposed will not be injured in any way. Animals may react to the sound, or move away, but research shows that they are likely to return quickly and resume their normal activities. Claims that the Navy is harming millions of marine mammals are ignoring this fact.
  • Our analysis overestimates the impact our activities have on marine mammals. The Navy thoroughly analyzes all of the at-sea training and testing activities, we are planning for the five-year period of our permits from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). With NMFS concurrence, we use a mathematical model to estimate the total number of marine mammal exposures that may result from those activities. That model, which uses the best available science, estimates potential for injuries or mortalities in less than .05 percent (five in 10,000) of the marine mammal exposures associated with our activities. It does not account for avoidance actions that marine mammals are likely to take in response to our activities, or protective measures (see below) which lessen marine mammal exposure to potentially harmful activities. The reality is the impact of Navy training and testing activity on marine mammals is likely to be significantly less than what our permit requests capture.
  • The EIS numbers do not take into account the protective measures (mitigations) the Navy adopts whenever we conduct sonar or explosives training or testing. These measures include using trained marine mammal lookouts; employing aircraft and underwater listening systems to scan for marine mammals; establishing buffer zones to reduce or halt sonar transmissions when we detect marine mammals near our ships; and software tools that delineate what training and testing events we can undertake in areas associated with marine mammal activity. We developed these measures in conjunction with NMFS  and re-evaluate them annually.
  • These proposed activities are not new.  The Navy has trained and tested in these areas for more than six decades, and there has been no evidence of extensive impacts to marine mammal populations as a result. The EISs do account for increases in training and testing, as well as testing of new and upgraded systems, but these activities will continue to have negligible impacts. Some of the additional training and testing might not even occur, especially in light of current and future budget restrictions. But we need to plan for the possibility that they could.
  • Sonar and explosives training have been linked to only a handful of strandings, affecting a few dozen animals over the past 17 years. We learned from these incidents.  The March 2000 stranding in the Bahamas was a major factor behind the Navy’s decision to implement an at-sea environmental policy that requires comprehensive analysis and documentation for our training activities. Similarly, a March 2011 incident in which three dolphins were killed when they swam into the scene of explosives training near San Diego resulted in safer procedures for conducting such training. We sincerely regret those instances where our activities have led to marine mammal deaths, and have since made great strides in understanding how our actions affect marine mammals. Additionally, we have become a world leader in funding marine mammal research, dedicating more than $100 million to such research in the past five years.

The Navy cannot guarantee that our training and testing activities will have zero effects on marine mammals, but for that very reason, we justify our requirements to, and ultimately receive our permits from, the fisheries service. The experts at NMFS will only issue permits if they are confident our proposed activities will have a negligible impact on marine life — and that is exactly what NMFS has determined in its proposed final rule for the Hawaii-Southern California and Atlantic Coast/Gulf of Mexico areas.

Navy Tag

We strive to be responsible stewards of the environment as we support America’s security and prosperity. I sincerely hope those interested in these issues will focus on the science and the facts, and choose to ignore emotional, non-factual statements.

 

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Navy SEAL – Loved One Could Not Be Found

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a Navy sailor Sunday after exhaustive efforts to locate the man who went missing during an open ocean training exercise Tuesday.

The Pathfinder for Maritime Search & Rescue

The Pathfinder for Maritime Search & Rescue

Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps crews worked with Honolulu Fire Department and Ocean Safety to search an area over 24,000 square miles using aircraft, cutters, small boats and shore personnel.

“In this case, I have the heartbreak of informing not only the family, but a close-knit military community, that a loved one could not be found,” said Capt. Joanna Nunan, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

For more information regarding the search, contact the 14th Coast Guard District public affairs office at (808) 535-3230.

For more information regarding the Navy sailor, contact Lt. Cmdr. David McKinney at (619) 522-2816.

USS Cheyenne Arrives in the Philippines

The last of the improved Lost Angeles-class submarines, USS Cheyenne (SSN 773), arrived in Subic Bay Feb. 1 as part of its Western Pacific deployment.

Me inside the US Navy Nuclear Sub the USS Cheyenne

Me inside the US Navy Nuclear Sub the USS Cheyenne

With a crew of approximately 150 Sailors, Cheyenne will be conducting various military exercises for training.

“It is our pleasure to visit Subic Bay. My Sailors and crew have earned this much deserved rest in this great town,” said Cmdr. Noel Gonzalez, Cheyenne’s commanding officer. “We have been out to sea for a while conducting lots of training, becoming proficient at our jobs, and employing the ship as she was designed to be used. My crew looks forward to building good relationships and reinforcing our partnerships in the Philippines.”

Cheyenne is one of the most capable submarines in the U.S. Navy. Its enhanced capabilities include advanced sonar systems and a state of the art engine room. Its sophisticated design and highly trained crew enable Cheyenne to operate globally, ready for any mission.

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

“We enjoy our job and being out to sea,” Gonzalez added, ” but every Sailor will tell you that visiting foreign ports is part of the reason many of us joined the Navy.”

“This visit to Subic Bay is well deserved,” said Chief of the Boat, Electronic Technician Master Chief Michael Hinkle. “We are looking forward to exploring the area and taking part in some community service projects during our time here.”

For crew members like Culinary Specialist Seaman Sheldon Alvarez, this is their first time visiting the Philippines.

“I am looking forward to exploring the area,” said Alvarez. “This is my first port visit ever and I am happy to be here and have the ability to contribute in an area of the world I have never visited before.”

Boarding the USS Cheyenne with an Old High School buddy.

Boarding the USS Cheyenne with an Old High School buddy.

Some of Cheyenne’s Filipino-American Sailors, like Electronics Technician Seaman Teodorico-Dante Tapia, will have an opportunity to connect with their heritage.

“I am really looking forward to finding the food I grew up eating, as well as dishes I’ve never tasted before,” said Tapia. “I can’t wait for some liberty to explore the place my elders still call home. I am an American, but I am a descendant of the Philippines and this is my first chance to see a place I’ve only dreamed of visiting!”

Cheyenne is home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hi.

 

Stay Safe USS Cheyenne – Submarine Leaves Pearl Harbor With My Heart Still On Board

A year ago yesterday, I had the opportunity to get a private tour of the Fast-Attack Submarine the USS Cheyenne (SSN 773), and today I’m saddened to be learning that it is leaving Hawaii for a six-month deployment.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Dec. 13 for a scheduled six-month deployment to the Western Pacific region.

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarin

Commander Rogeness and I infront of the USS Cheyenne Submarine

Cheyenne’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Noel J. Gonzalez, commented the crew is eager and excited to get underway.

“I am extremely happy with the crew’s enthusiasm, eagerness, and motivation to accomplish our tasking,” said Gonzalez.

At the helm of the USS Cheyenne

At the helm of the USS Cheyenne

Gonzalez said the crew has anxiously waited for the day to deploy after having spent months preparing and training for the missions they will soon undertake. From different weather patterns to deployed operational tasking, Cheyenne will face many challenges during deployment that are not normally encountered in the local operating area.

For many on the crew, including Electronics Technician 3rd Class Sean Michael Dziuvenis, this will be a first deployment.

“It’s going to be a long time away from homeport, not talking to my family and friends, but I’m looking forward to the port visits and seeing the world,” said Dziuvenis.

Inside the sub

Inside the sub

Along with accomplishing the mission, the deployment will provide an opportunity to gain experience for many on the crew to include watchstanding, and submarine qualifications.

“This is without a doubt the best-trained crew in the Pacific Fleet and they are ready to complete any mission,” said Cheyenne’s Command Master Chief Michael Hinkle.

In the Sioux language, Cheyenne means "aliens" or "people of foreign toungue".  The Sioux Indiangs gave the name "Cheyenne" to the Indian tribe that roamed the plains in this region.  The crew of the USS Cheyenne earned the Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN Battle Efficiency "E" Award in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

In the Sioux language, Cheyenne means “aliens” or “people of foreign toungue”. The Sioux Indiangs gave the name “Cheyenne” to the Indian tribe that roamed the plains in this region. The crew of the USS Cheyenne earned the Commander, Submarine Squadron SEVEN Battle Efficiency “E” Award in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Commissioned September 1996, USS Cheyenne is the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Cheyenne, Wyoming, and is one of the most capable attack submarines in the world. She can launch Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles as well as Mark-48 torpedoes.

 

The Making of a Navy Chief

In the Pacific Ocean, near the Hawaiian Islands, the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is haze gray and underway. The ship has been in dry dock for a year and a half, and this is the first time at sea for much of the crew.  While the sailors train in skills crucial to mission success, a small group has begun another journey.

Mike Zagorski and I aboard the USS Ronald Reagan out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean back in 2010 (Link here: http://tinyurl.com/33x3l9r)

Over 300 Nimitz first class petty officers are up for promotion.  They’re under evaluation for the next several months, and if they make the cut, will put on anchors and join the ranks of the Navy chiefs.

Follow six Petty Officer 1st Classes from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as they approach a major milestone in their careers.

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RIMPAC 2012 Enters Final Week of Exercises

RIMPAC 2012 is scheduled to officially end it’s exercises in the Pacific Ocean around the Hawaii Islands on August 3rd.  The other day this shot was posted on the RIMPAC Facebook page:

Ships and submarines participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise 2012 sail in formation in the waters around the Hawaiian islands. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith Devinney/RELEASED)

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NAVY Releases Information on Sailor That Fell Off the USS Essex During RIMPAC Training

On Wednesday I got to go out to the Military Transport Ship the USS Essex during some of the 2012 RIMPAC exercises and I mentioned that a sailor had fallen off the ship and was injured.

A flare marks where the sailor fell in

Well I’ve been watching the news reports and statements from the US Navy and it’s been like they have been completely mum on the incident.

Today I sent the following email off to the folks at RIMPAC:

On Wednesday, July 18th, I was invited aboard the USS Essex while it was based off of the Big Island of Hawaii.  I happened to witness part of the rescue and was literally about 200 feet away from where the Sailor fell over board, although I myself didn’t see him fall over… I immediately saw the sailors react to the situation and I’m glad they eventually were able to find the guy out in the ocean.

When he was brought back to the ship… he was tied down to a gurney and obviously was injured.  I have written briefly about the incident on my website here:

http://damontucker.com/2012/07/18/man-overboard-sailor-falls-off-navy-ship-uss-essex-during-rimpac-exercises/

I was wondering what the official statement from the NAVY is on this incident and if possible… the name and rank of the sailor that did fall overboard and what his current medical condition is.

Sincerely,
Damon Tucker

I got the following response from the NAVY today:

Damon,
On July 18 a US service member was successfully rescued within minutes after falling overboard from USS ESSEX. Crew witnessed the service member fall overboard and responded immediately according to established procedures. The servicemember was recovered aboard a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) by a rescue swimmer, returned to ESSEX and was treated for a minor injury by ship’s medical personnel.

Due to privacy considerations, we are not disclosing identifying information of the service member.

-CDR Charlie Brown, US Navy
RIMPAC spokesperson

Manning the Rails – The USNS Mercy Ports in Honolulu… Pacific Partnership 2012 Kicks Off

Back in 2010, the US Navy invited me to go on board the US Navy Ship the USNS Mercy where I toured the ship with a few other folks involved in social media.

Well today, the Mercy returned to Hawaii waters and the US Navy asked me if I would like to return to the Mercy, only this time I would be meeting the Mercy out in the ocean!

Because we were scheduled to depart on a “Hele” (Military Helicopter) early in the morning, I actually spent the night before in Waikiki and then woke up early and met the folks from the Pacific Fleet that cleared us for this excursion at 5:15 am at the Navy’s Pass and ID office.

We then jumped in a Navy Public Affairs van where they brought us out to Hickham Airfield’s Air Mobility Command Passenger Terminal where we got to see what it was like to travel on stand by flights at their little mini airport terminal.

After about 30 minutes, they lead a group of eight of us into this room where we put on our skull caps (cranials) and put on emergency life vests.

They then lead us out on to the airfield where we were forbidden to take any pictures of the helicopter that they would soon be putting us on.

We boarded the helicopter and then we went off for about a 20 minute flight off the coast of Oahu and when we reached the Mercy the helicopter circled the vessel several times before we finally touched down and were taken off the helicopter.

We took off our life vests and then we were matched up with sailors that would be our escorts during the cruise back into Pearl Harbor.

After being matched up with folks, we were lead to the ships kitchen and gallery where they served us up a huge breakfast… (They eat well on these Navy ships!)

We then got to go up to the bridge of the Mercy and we met the folks that actually were in charge of steering the ship into the port… believe it or not… it was a CIVILIAN that was at the helm… Well a Civil Service Mariner just dressed in casual clothes!

After spending some time at the bridge we were lead to the flight deck where the helicopter that brought us in… was doing some maneuvers above the MERCY and then it finally touched down and the sailors secured the helicopter for the rest of the cruise into Pearl Harbor.

We were then given a more thorough tour of the ship where they showed us where they did the operations, surgeries, and even allowed us into the isolation ward!

After the group tour concluded, I got to have a personal tour with my escort where he took me around to every part of the Mercy except for the places that NO ONE was allowed to go!

At about 11:00 the Mercy got the go ahead to come into Pearl Harbor.  At that time all the sailors put on their “whites” and prepared to “Man the Rails”.

When a Navy ship comes into Pearl Harbor you will see the sailors lined up on both sides of the ship standing at arms length.

Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Hinman

I was told that this was more symbolic then anything and that the sailors due this in part to honor those that lost their lives on the USS Arizona so when they pass the Arizona Memorial there was almost like a moment of silence as all the sailors paid their respect.

I was talking to one of the sailors and he mentioned how excited they were to get this mission underway.  I then realized that many of these sailors had never even been to Pearl Harbor before and they were very excited to be coming here.  One of the sailors asked me if the big pink building on the side of the island was where they played the pro-bowl and I was actually surprised that he didn’t know that was the Tripler Medical Hospital.

Going on the Mercy the first time was pretty special… but this was a trip actually being flown out to the Mercy, landing on it, and then coming into Pearl Harbor with the ship will definitely be an experience that I will never forget.

Here is a coin I was able to get from the ship’s store after begging and pleading with them to open the ships store!

Lucky #7

Here is the Press Release that was given to us on the ship:

Pacific Ocean – Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Pearl Harbor bringing with it U.S. Pacific Fleet’s embarked humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) mission, today on May 9th.

“This mission boils down to bringing people together,” said Mission Commander, Navy Capt. James Morgan, commander of the San Diego-based Destroyer Squadron Seven.  “It is about building trust over many years so we can better collectively respond in crisis.  Additionally, it will further demonstrate the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to working with our friends in the Asia-Pacific Region.”

While in port, the mission will on load personnel and equipment in support of what is now the largest annual HCA mission in the Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s mission is scheduled to last four-and-a-half months, and is now in its seventh year.  It will bring together the expertise of approximately 12 partner nations working together, at the invitation of, and in coordination with the host nations of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Pacific Partnership continues building and fostering enduring relationships by working through and with host nations, partner nations and non-government organizations (NGOs) to enhance our collective ability and capacity to respond to natural disasters.

Additionally, Pacific Partnership personnel will conduct tailored civic assistance projects (CAPs), which build relationships and capacity in the areas of medical, dental, veterinary and civil engineering.  It will also conduct community service and subject matter expert exchanges that reinforce the importance of mutual support and learning about cultures, capabilities, and practices.

Pacific Partnership 2012 is led by three different element commanders: Capt. James Morgan, mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2012 and commander of San Diego-based Squadron Seven; Capt. Jonathan Olmsted, of the Military Sealift Command and Mercy’s civil service master; and, Capt. Timothy Hinman, commander of the medical treatment facility which is responsible for the hospital and providing care aboard Mercy and on shore.

“We are bringing together prominent national experts, with international reputations, and local physicians to share information and work together on a range of multidimensional aspects of medicine and patient care,” said Hinman.  “This is true capacity building at its very finest.”

Mercy’s scheduled May 1st departure was temporarily postponed due to a mechanical issue, but the delay will have no impact to an on-time arrival in the mission’s first host-country nation of Indonesia.

They also gave us the following information regarding the Host and Partner Nations of the Pacific Partnership 2012:

It is common for multiple countries to respond to a disaster. Past real-world missions and associated cooperation further validate the need for countries throughout the Pacific to carry out missions like Pacific Partnership, which enhance the interoperability between militaries, government agencies, and civil organizations, enabling faster and more efficient responses to disasters.

Partner Nations play a critical role in all Pacific partnership missions.  Working with our Partner Nations help to strengthen relationships amongst the Pacific-Rim countries while fostering new friendships and enhancing training through both information and technical exchanges.

Pacific Partnership 2012 will sail to the host nation countries of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

List of Partner Nations: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and South Korea.

Pacific Partnership 2012: Preparing in calm to respond in crisis!

USNS Mercy Characteristics:

  • Length: 894 feet (272 meters)
  • Speed: 17.5 Knots
  • Delivered to U.S. Navy: Dec. 19, 1986
  • Crew Size:  Civil Service Mariners – Deployed 65, Not Deployed 18.  Navy Medical Personnel – Deployed 1,215, Not Deployed: 58

Mercy has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States.  The hospital has a full spectrum of surgical and medical services including four X-rays, one CT Scan Unit, a dental suite, an optometry and lens laboratory, a physical therapy center, a pharmacy, an angiography suite and two oxygen-producing plants.  Mercy is capable of maintaining up to 5,000 units of blood.

Here is a list of Non-Governmental Organizations that help to collaborate with this effort:

  • Project Handclasp
  • Project Hope
  • World Vets
  • UC San Diego Pre-Dental Society
  • University of Hawaii (UH) Nursing School
  • UH Engineering School
  • Global Grins
  • Vietnam Medical Assistance Program
  • Help for Orphans
  • Hope Worldwide
  • Islamic Medical Society
  • Calbayog Rotary Club
  • GIZ
  • ASWHO
  • Compassion Flower
  • Vietnam Women’s Union
  • M’lop Tapang
  • The Starfish Project
  • Cambodian Children’s Painting Project
  • Hope Worldwide

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The Littoral Combat Ship the USS Independence

The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) transits off the coast of Florida.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trevor Welsh)

Sailors from Independence’s Gold Crew and embarked Mine Countermeasures (MCM), Detachment 1, are underway for the ship’s maiden voyage to San Diego, where the ship will be home-ported, after completing testing on the MCM mission package.

Mahalo to the Pacific Aviation Museum and Pictures From Discover Your Future in Aviation Day

I wanted to personally thank the staff at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor for sending me a book entitled “Nimitz Class Aircraft Carriers… On Deck” written by Jim Goodall.

I was reading it last night and was blown away by the quality of the pictures that were in the book and I kept having flashbacks from when the US Navy flew me out to the USS Ronald Reagan and I got to tour the aircraft carrier and then they catapulted me off.

So thank you very much Pacific Aviation Museum for the book.  In other museum news:

The sky was the limit yesterday as hundreds of young people interested in aviation as a career or hobby attended Pacific Aviation Museum’s 3rd annual Discover Your Future in Aviation, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

This is the third year for the aviation conference, a day filled with hands-on workshops and seminars, a career fair with over 25 participating organizations, and interactive science exhibits. Participants could also enter to win lots of aviation prizes.

According to Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff, “This is a really good opportunity to talk one-on-one with aviation professionals and learn more about careers in aviation and the related sciences, part of our Education mission at the Museum.”

Discover Your Future in Aviation is a presentation of the Museum’s Education Department. www.PacificAviationMuseum.org.

USS Ronald Reagan Returns to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

The US Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan has returned to Hawaii!

USS Ronald Reagan

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Aug. 31, 2011) Sailors and Marines render honors as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) passes the USS Arizona Memorial while entering Pearl Harbor for a port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin B. Gray)

It was just a little over a year ago when I got flown out to the USS Ronald Reagan and got to tour the Aircraft Carrier out at sea and get catapulted off of it!

Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex Receives Site Dedication

The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) conducted a cultural site dedication today for the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) to be constructed at two locations on PMRF.

The Hawaiian blessing site dedication was conducted by noted Waimea kupuna Aletha Kaohi, with assistance from Sherri “Puni” Patrick. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Rear Adm. Joseph A. Horn, Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) program director for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, and other dignitaries were in attendance.

Sen. Daniel Inouye places soil in an umeke bowl

Sen. Daniel Inouye places soil in an umeke bowl during a dedication ceremony for the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex to be constructed at two sites at PMRF. The Hawaiian blessing site dedication was conducted by noted Waimea kupuna Aletha Kaohi, with assistance from Sherri "Puni" Patrick. Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, Rear Adm. Joseph A. Horn, Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) program director for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, and other dignitaries were in attendance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh.

The AAMDTC will be a test and evaluation center in the development of the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA). The PAA was announced by the president in September 2009 to provide flexible, adaptable ballistic missile defense for our deployed troops, friends, and allies.

The test complex at PMRF is critical to the development of the Aegis Ashore capability. It is essential for verifying requirements and validating design capability prior to deployment at the first of two planned sites in Europe in 2015.

Aunty Aletha Kaohi hands Capt. Nicholas Mongillo, Commanding Officer, Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF)

Aunty Aletha Kaohi hands Capt. Nicholas Mongillo, Commanding Officer, Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), an umeke bowl during a dedication ceremony for the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex to be constructed at two sites at PMRF. The umeke held soil from both sites. The Hawaiian blessing site dedication was conducted by noted Waimea kupuna Kaohi, with assistance from Sherri "Puni" Patrick. U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Rear Adm. Joseph A. Horn, Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) program director for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, and other dignitaries were in attendance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay C. Pugh.

After initial certification, the AAMDTC will remain at PMRF as a Missile Defense Agency test asset and will be operated by the Missile Defense Agency.

Deployment of Aegis Ashore to Europe will greatly enhance coverage of defense of Europe as part of the overall Ballistic Missile Defense System.