USS Preble Interdicts 2,000 Kilograms of Cocaine

The guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team seized 100 bales of suspected cocaine worth over $40 million, June 2.

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 2, 2020) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team conducts enhanced counter narcotics operations June 2. The Preble and embarked LEDET recovered over 2,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine. Preble is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard/Released)

After a U.S. Navy maritime patrol aircraft assigned to the “Tridents” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26 first spotted the low profile go fast vessel (LPGFV), Preble was vectored in for a long range intercept. Upon interception, Preble employed one of her embarked helicopters, assigned to the “Easy Riders” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, to provide over watch and ensure compliance while the embarked LEDET and small boats achieved positive control of the LPGFV. 

The Preble with their embarked LEDET recovered 100 bales of suspected cocaine totaling an estimated 2,000 kilograms, worth over an estimated wholesale value of $40 million. 

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 2, 2020) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team conducts enhanced counter narcotics operations June 2. The Preble and embarked LEDET recovered over 2,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine. Preble is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard/Released)

“This interdiction and drug seizure was a big win for our Navy and Coast Guard team,” said Cmdr. Leonardo Giovannelli, USS Preble commanding officer. “Not only did we flex our sensors and communications suite, but our combat team was able to work across the interagency and contribute directly to a major line of operation with tangible results.” 

USS Preble is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations conducting U.S Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s enhanced counter drug operations missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific.

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of presidential national security objectives. 

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 2, 2020) The “Easy Riders” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, embarked onboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) with embarked U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) team conducts enhanced counter narcotics operations June 2. The Preble and embarked LEDET recovered over 2,000 kilograms of suspected cocaine. Preble is deployed to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard/Released) 

Numerous U.S. agencies from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security cooperated in the effort to combat transnational organized crime. The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, play a role in counter-drug operations. 

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command’s joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American region.

Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Begins 2020 Deployment

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is underway serving as America’s strongest symbol of resolve, navigating the global pandemic as its mission endures, in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

USS Ronald Reagan

This deployment marks USS Ronald Reagan’s (CVN 76) fifth year of service as part of U.S. forward-deployed naval forces. Reagan, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, represent the cornerstone of the strike group’s capability to sustain presence, project power, fight and win decisively from the sea.

Following sea trials, Reagan commenced deployment by on-loading more than 1,000 tons of ordnance – enough combat power to cause the ship to sit five-inches lower on the waterline – in addition to personnel and aircraft from aviation squadrons within CVW-5. With more than 5,000 crew embarked, and 60-plus aircraft, Reagan is capable of sustaining around-the-clock maritime operations.

While underway, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group will work alongside allies and partners to strengthen regional capabilities, further develop warfighting concepts, and improve distributed maritime operations that provide layered defense options to protect shared interests. Together, the U.S. and its allies promote peace and prosperity by supporting international norms.

Me on the Captain’s seat of the USS Ronald Reagan back in 2010

The United States remains committed to protecting the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea, and the ability of all countries to exercise those rights.

The crew and support staff of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group continue to demonstrate that no challenge is beyond reach and that together, we can achieve peace through strength.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.

Senators Urge DOD Not to Use Military to Suppress Nationwide Protests

Yesterday, Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), along with 19 of their colleagues, wrote to Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley to express their alarm at President Trump’s threat to invoke the Insurrection Act as a response to protests across the country calling for justice and accountability for George Floyd’s murder and an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

The letter instructs DOD to answer whether it would deploy combat designated troops; what the mission, scope, and rules would entail for the use of force; if the troops would be authorized to perform arrests; how these troops would be trained and prepared; and whether the Department would deploy federal troops apart from the use of the Insurrection Act.

“President Trump’s behavior over the last three years has repeatedly politicized our Armed Forces and portrayed their mission not as one to protect and defend the Constitution, but rather to protect and defend his political interests,” the Senators wrote. “Those peacefully protesting are not ‘thugs’ or ‘terrorists’ but are individuals exercising their fundamental Constitutional rights. The military should never be weaponized by the President to limit these expressions for liberty and justice. We believe it is antithetical to what those in uniform have sworn to protect and defend, and a serious threat to our democratic system.”

The Senators continued, “This is a critical moment for our nation. How our institutions respond will determine whether the coming weeks and months lead to healing and unity, or continued derision, discord and injustice. We urge you to refrain from using the United States military to diminish or suppress the peaceful, free expression of Americans who are exercising their civil liberties in a call to hold government institutions to a higher standard in the fight for racial justice.” 

In addition to Senators Hirono and Bennet, the letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The letter can be read below:

Dear Secretary Esper and General Milley:

We write to express our grave concern regarding President Trump’s recent announcement that he intends to invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize active duty military personnel or federalize National Guard personnel to deploy within the United States in response to nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act, the U.S. Armed Forces are prohibited from performing law enforcement duties in the United States outside of Constitutional authorization or an act of Congress. Under exigent circumstances, the Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the President to deploy military personnel within U.S. borders in the event of an insurrection, rebellion, or extreme civil unrest. The Insurrection Act, last used in 1992, is an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act that is understood to only be invoked under extreme conditions. We believe the President’s interpretation of the Insurrection Act contravenes its purpose and spirit significantly departs from previous applications throughout our nation’s history. While the first part of the Act (10 U.S.C. §251) allows states to request support from the federal government, other provisions of the Act (10 U.S.C. §252, §253, and §254) allow the President to activate federal troops independent of a state’s request – under specific and limited conditions which are not currently met.

The Act has historically been invoked under these narrower provisions in order to protect equal access to civil rights, as was the case when federal forces protected the desegregation of public schools in Arkansas in 1957 and in Mississippi and Alabama in 1962 and 1963, respectively. Invoking the Act to restrict Americans’ right to freedom of assembly, speech, and protest under current circumstances would be a significant departure from important historical uses of the law.

President Trump’s behavior over the last three years has repeatedly politicized our Armed Forces and portrayed their mission not as one to protect and defend the Constitution, but rather to protect and defend his political interests. We are deeply concerned by your description of the United States, and those exercising their right to protest, as a “battlespace.” America is not a “battlespace” and protestors should never be “dominated” by the government or the military. Those peacefully protesting are not “thugs” or “terrorists” but are individuals exercising their fundamental Constitutional rights. The military should never be weaponized by the President to limit these expressions for liberty and justice. We believe it is antithetical to what those in uniform have sworn to protect and defend, and a serious threat to our democratic system.

Furthermore, General Milley, we are deeply concerned that your appointment to lead the Armed Forces’ response to ongoing protests will further militarize the government’s response. The scope of your leadership role remains unclear and concerning. The appointment of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to manage the response to nationwide domestic protests represents a highly disturbing delegation of authority and injects confusion within the chain of command.

In short, we oppose in the strongest terms the use of the U.S. military to impede the First Amendment rights of Americans. In cases where there is a need for additional security, state and local law enforcement, with support from the state National Guard, who live with and within the communities they serve, under the control of each state, are fully capable of responding.

Given the urgency of this situation and the potential for abuse of the Insurrection Act, we ask that you brief our staff to address the following questions concerning the possible invocation of the Act and use of other military personnel domestically not later than 3:00 pm Friday, June 5, 2020.

1.              Will the Department of Defense (DoD) use Title 10 forces without the invocation of the Insurrection Act?

2.              What is the mission and rules of engagement of any Title 10 servicemember, specifically, Military Police, who have already deployed in response to protests, and how are they coordinating with state and local law enforcement entities? Are they authorized to carry out arrests and other law enforcement activities? Are they authorized to use lethal force? What is their chain of command? What is their relationship to law enforcement entities?

3.              Have any state legislatures requested deployment of the federal troops to “suppress an insurrection” pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §251, or for any other purpose in relation to the protests?

4.              Will DoD deploy federal troops to a state where the state either has not requested military support or expressly states they do not want federal support? In this situation, to whom would these forces report?

5.              In accordance with 10 U.S.C. §252, do current conditions “make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings” as required by statute? If so, where and why?

6.              In accordance with 10 U.S.C. §253, do current conditions hinder “the execution of the laws of [a] State and of the United States . . . that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law”? If so, please explain why and provide examples. Further, have any state authorities “[been] unable, fail[ed], or refuse[d] to protect th[ose] right[s], privilege[s], or immunit[ies], or to give that protection?” Alternatively, where do current conditions “oppose[] or obstruct[] the execution of the laws of the United States or impede[] the course of justice under those laws,” as opposed to state law?

7.              Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §254, will DoD only deploy federal troops following a presidential proclamation ordering people to “disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time” before invoking the Insurrection Act, as required by law?

8.              Are there any circumstances in which DoD envisions deploying combat troops (i.e. not Military Police)?

9.              Although we do not believe invoking the Insurrection Act is warranted and believe the deployment of federal forces would be a grave mistake, we remain concerned about the assigned mission and scope in such an event. What are the rules for the use of force for any Title 10 unit that is activated to deploy to respond to protests under the Insurrection Act?

a.              Will the servicemembers receive training concerning protests, riots, implicit bias, contextual sensitivity, and/or restraint?

b.              Will the servicemembers be authorized to use lethal force?

c.              Will they be armed with weapons? Will those weapons carry live rounds? What non-lethal riot control tools will be issued?

d.              What is their designated mission?

e.              Will they be authorized to make arrests, and if so, under what circumstances?

f.               What is their chain of command?

g.              What is their relationship to state and local law enforcement entities?

h.              What will their relationship be to National Guard personnel on State Active Duty orders?

i.               If military personnel are credibly alleged to have used excessive force or engaged in other abuses, will they be subject to civilian law, depending on their chain of command, or the Uniformed Code of Military Justice?

10.           If National Guard personnel are federalized for this mission, will this take resources away from ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response activities?

This is a critical moment for our nation. How our institutions respond will determine whether the coming weeks and months lead to healing and unity, or continued derision, discord and injustice. We urge you to refrain from using the United States military to diminish or suppress the peaceful, free expression of Americans who are exercising their civil liberties in a call to hold government institutions to a higher standard in the fight for racial justice. We believe strongly in a healthy civil-military relationship. The inappropriate use of U.S. federal military personnel in this context could result in irrevocable damage to our nation.

We appreciate your response within the week.

Gov. Ige Watches National Guard Salute

For a few minutes today, Gov. David Ige took a break from the endless meetings, conference calls, and administrative work associated with the state’s management of the COVID-19 crisis, to join others around the state in recognizing the sacrifices of the healthcare community.

PC: COVID-19 Joint Information Center

From a State Capitol 5th floor vantage point, the governor watched as aircraft from the Hawai‘i National Guard and the 15th Wing Active Duty airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam flew three separate flyovers over 17 different hospitals and medical centers around the state.

PC: COVID-19 Joint Information Center

It was an occasion to recognize not only military members, many of whom are supporting Hawai‘i’s coronavirus emergency response, but to pay tribute to the thousands of healthcare workers around the islands who are on the frontlines, battling this serious disease.

PC: COVID-19 Joint Information Center

“We see across the country, the ravage COVID-19 has inflicted on community after community. We know that Hawai‘i has fared much, much better than any other state in the country, and it really is due to the healthcare providers here. I’m proud of all their efforts,” said Gov. Ige.

PC: COVID-19 Joint Information Center

As the governor watched the trio of flyovers he reflected, “It’s such a fantastic tribute from people in uniform who risk their lives every single day to the healthcare workers who truly have become heroes in our community because of this pandemic.”

U.S. Pacific Fleet Announces RIMPAC 2020

The United States Navy will sponsor the 27th Rim of the Pacific exercise, Aug. 17-31.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 26, 2018) Navy ships assemble to form the multinational fleet for a group off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. Twenty-six nations, more than 45 ships and submarines, about 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 27 to Aug. 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships between participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea-lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan M. Kinee/Released) 

Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, this biennial maritime exercise will be an at-sea-only event in light of COVID-19 concerns. The theme of RIMPAC 2020 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.”

The at-sea-only construct for RIMPAC 2020 was developed to ensure the safety of all military forces participating by minimizing shore-based contingents. Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet crafted the modified RIMPAC plan as a way to conduct a meaningful exercise with maximum training value and minimum risk to the force, allies and partners, and the people of Hawaii.

“I’m pleased the Navy has agreed to postpone the RIMPAC 2020 exercise and will conduct the at-sea-portion this year to help keep Hawaiʻi safe as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. David Ige. “I’m working closely with Adm. Davidson to monitor the situation. If conditions change later this summer, we will reassess and respond appropriately.”

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC is designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The exercise, which takes place in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships. In 2018, 26 nations participated in and around Hawaii.

“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that our maritime forces work together to protect vital shipping lanes and ensure freedom of navigation through international waters,” said Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. John Aquilino. “And we will operate safely, using prudent mitigation measures.”

As the U.S. Navy continues to limit the spread of COVID-19, RIMPAC 2020 is not scheduled to include social events ashore. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will be accessible for logistics support, with a minimal footprint of staff ashore for command and control, logistics, and other support functions. 

This year’s exercise will include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime intercept operations, and live-fire training events, among other cooperative training opportunities. Continued planning will remain flexible as Navy leaders monitor and assess evolving circumstances.

“We remain committed to and capable of safeguarding allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” said Aquilino. “The flexible approach to RIMPAC 2020 strikes the right balance between combating future adversaries and the COVID-19 threat.”

RIMPAC 2020 will be led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott D. Conn.

VIDEO: 10 World War II Era Munitions Removed

With three successive “fire-in-the-hole” warnings, LT Jordan Bethke of the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team (Detachment Mid-Pacific) set off C-4 explosives attached to two potential Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) off Lanikai Beach this afternoon.

Water shot into the air during a brief explosion, 400 yards offshore; the explosion was likely caused from the C-4 and not necessarily from the UXO.The detonation was the culmination of an all-day UXO removal for the special Navy team in cooperation with the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources.

Five members of the team took a Zodiac raft out to where a citizen had reported possible unexploded ordnance in February. It is likely World War II era munitions dropped during military training exercises. Prior to the detonation of the two UXO, blown-up because fuses were still visible, the team brought eight smaller potential UXO to shore and lined them up, side-by-side. Once those items were loaded onto a truck, the boat team went back to the site to begin preparations for the detonation.

Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and Honolulu Police patrolled the beach to make sure it was clear of people. A pair of DOCARE officers on jet skis shooed away several kayakers and scanned the surrounding water for marine life. Earlier LT Bethke showed the “floating Freddie,” a bright orange, waterproof box the EOD experts use to carry a receiver out to the site. It is connected to a transmitter at the shoreline used to trigger the explosive caps. The entire operation was considered a complete success.

Biologists from the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) carried-out a baseline assessment last month to assess and document coral in the area and will revisit the site this week to conduct a post-assessment to determine the impact of the UXO mitigation mission. 

Unexploded munitions left behind more than 70 years ago from historical military activities in areas around the state pose a serious risk if disturbed. No injuries or deaths in Hawai‘i have been attributed to UXOs since extensive public education efforts conducted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Hawai‘i Department of Health. 
Citizens are reminded of the 3 R’s of UXO safety:
• Recognize – when you may have encountered a munition and the potential danger
• Retreat – do not approach, touch, move or disturb it and carefully leave the area
• Report – call 911 or the DOH HEER Office at (808) 586-5815

18 Sailors Test Positive for COVID-19 on USS Kidd

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) — A Sailor assigned to USS Kidd (DDG 100) tested positive for COVID-19 after being medically evacuated to the United States from operations at sea, April 23.

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 22, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) transits the Pacific Ocean. Kidd is on an underway in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston/Released)

The Sailor is stable and receiving care at a medical treatment facility in San Antonio, Texas. USS Kidd was underway in the U.S. Fourth Fleet area of operations, in support of U.S. Southern Command.

Within 24 hours following the positive COVID-19 test of the Sailor, the Navy deployed a specialized medical team to the ship to conduct contact tracing and additional onsite testing. As of this morning, 17 additional Sailors have tested positive. Testing continues, and we expect additional cases. All measures are being taken to evaluate the extent of the COVID-19 transmission on the ship.

“The first patient transported is already improving and will self-isolate.  We are taking every precaution to ensure we identify, isolate, and prevent any further spread onboard the ship,” said Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “Our medical team continues coordinating with the ship and our focus is the safety and well-being of every Sailor.”

The ship will return to port where the crew will continue to clean and disinfect the ship, observing protocols in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Navy-specific guidelines. Onboard test results will inform operational decisions.

We will continue this aggressive approach to provide medical care to our Sailors and work to mitigate further spread.

America Strong: Blue Angels, Thunderbirds to Conduct Multi-City Flyovers

In a show of national solidarity, the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, and the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, will conduct a series of multi-city flyovers over the next two weeks.

America Strong is a collaborative salute from the Navy and Air Force to recognize healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re excited to fly over cities across America as our way of saying thanks to the healthcare workers, first responders, and all the people who selflessly run into the breach working to keep America strong,” said Gen. Dave Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations.  “This is also our way of showing that we are all in this together and that America’s spirit will prevail.” 

The two demonstration teams will fly over areas of the country hardest hit by COVID-19, starting next week as both joint and individual team flights occurring every one-to-two days until mid-May.

The Air Force and Navy have partnered with local governments and media outlets to help ensure spectators follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines.  Both teams are also implementing various measures to maintain personnel and community safety.  This includes air-to-air refueling during transit and no scheduled stops en route to reduce potential exposure to the virus.

The Blue Angels, based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, and Thunderbirds, based at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, typically fly at more than 30 air shows each year to demonstrate American military aviation. This year, both teams have been forced to cancel many performances in response to Department of Defense direction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

While America Strong will showcase Department of Defense support to healthcare workers, first responders, military, essential employees, and aims to unite all Americans in the fight against COVID-19, it also fulfills critical training requirements for both teams. Pilots must execute a minimum number of flight hours to maintain proficiency. These flyovers will incur no additional cost to taxpayers.

In order to reach the maximum number of Americans, some portions of America Strong will feature only the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, while others will include both teams flying in their signature Delta formations simultaneously.

More information to be provided soon on dates and locations.

America Strong schedule:  Both teams will work with local media to provide exact times and locations.

For more information on the Blue Angels, visit this site.

For more information on the Thunderbirds, visit this site.

Navy Sailor Dies of COVID-Related Complications

PEARL HARBOR – The Sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) who was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam April 9 (local date) died of COVID-related complications April 13.

USS Theodore Roosevelt

The name of the Sailor is being withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

The Sailor, tested positive for COVID-19 March 30, was removed from the ship and placed in an isolation house on Naval Base Guam with four other USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailors. Like other Sailors in isolation, he received medical checks twice daily from Navy medical teams.

At approximately 8:30 a.m., Apr. 9 (local date), the Sailor was found unresponsive during a daily medical check. While Naval Base Guam emergency responders were notified, CPR was administered by fellow Sailors and onsite medical team in the house. The Sailor was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam where the Sailor was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The Sailor was declared deceased April 13.

USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Guam March 27 for a scheduled port visit for resupply and crew rest.

3 Pacific Fleet Sailors Test Positive for COVID-19

PEARL HARBOR – A Sailor assigned to a San Diego, California-based squadron, a Sailor assigned to an Everett, Washington-based ship, and a Sailor assigned to a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based shore command tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

All three Sailors are currently isolated at their residences, restricted in movement, and receiving appropriate supportive care in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines. 

Personnel who were immediately identified as having close contact with these Sailors have been notified, placed in a restriction of movement status at their residences and are being monitored.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commanders and commanding officers are committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force. We remain in close coordination with state and federal authorities, and public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and local population.

For questions, contact U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs at 808-471-3769.

Hypersonic Weapon Tested Off Kauai

The Department of Defense successfully tested a hypersonic glide body in a flight experiment conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, March 19 at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time (HST).

KAUAI, Hawaii (March 19, 2020) A common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) launches from Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time, March 19, 2020, during a Department of Defense flight experiment. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Army jointly executed the launch of the C-HGB, which flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point. Concurrently, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment that will inform its ongoing development of systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic weapons. Information gathered from this and future experiments will further inform DOD’s hypersonic technology development. The department is working in collaboration with industry and academia to field hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Army jointly executed the launch of a common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB), which flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point.

Concurrently, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment that will inform its ongoing development of systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic weapons.

Information gathered from this and future experiments will further inform DOD’s hypersonic technology development, and this event is a major milestone towards the department’s goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.

”This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances,” said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, Director, Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, which is the lead designer for the C-HGB. ”In this test we put additional stresses on the system and it was able to handle them all, due to the phenomenal expertise of our top notch team of individuals from across government, industry and academia. Today we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase towards fielding a hypersonic strike capability.”

Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), are highly maneuverable and operate at varying altitudes. This provides the warfighter with an ability to strike targets hundreds and even thousands of miles away, in a matter of minutes, to defeat a wide range of high-value targets. Delivering hypersonic weapons is one of the department’s highest technical research and engineering priorities.

”This test was a critical step in rapidly delivering operational hypersonic capabilities to our warfighters in support of the National Defense Strategy,” said U.S. Army LTG L. Neil Thurgood, Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, whose office is leading the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon program and joint C-HGB production. “We successfully executed a mission consistent with how we can apply this capability in the future. The joint team did a tremendous job in executing this test, and we will continue to move aggressively to get prototypes to the field.”

The C-HGB – when fully fielded – will comprise the weapon’s conventional warhead, guidance system, cabling, and thermal protection shield. The Navy and Army are working closely with industry to develop the C-HGB with Navy as the lead designer, and Army as the lead for production. Each service will use the C-HGB, while developing individual weapon systems and launchers tailored for launch from sea or land.

The similarities in hypersonic weapon design for sea and land variants provide economies of scale for future production as we build the U.S. hypersonics industrial base.

“Hypersonic systems deliver transformational warfighting capability,” said Mr. Mike White, Assistant Director, Hypersonics, OUSD Research and Engineering (Modernization). “The glide body tested today is now ready for transition to Army and Navy weapon system development efforts and is one of several applications of hypersonic technology underway across the Department. These capabilities help ensure that our warfighters will maintain the battlefield dominance necessary to deter, and if necessary, defeat any future adversary.”

Additionally, MDA is working closely with Army and Navy in sharing data that will inform their development of enhanced capabilities for a layered hypersonic defense to support warfighter need and outpace the adversary threat. 

Response to Grounded Vessel Off Honolulu Continues

Responders continue work, Friday, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf.

Responders continue work, Oct. 12, 2017, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf. The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides after removing about two thirds of the the fuel aboard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

“We are working diligently with the salvage team and our partners to ensure a safe and deliberate response,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “The safety of the public and the environment remain our top priority. We have removed about two-thirds of the fuel aboard significantly reducing the pollution threat. Due to the tides and incoming weather we have transitioned to the towing evolution to take advantage of our best window for removal of the vessel prior to the arrival of stronger winds, surf and swells this weekend.”

The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides.

Roughly 3,000 gallons of fuel was removed by the salvage team before operations were suspended Thursday. Approximately 1,500 gallons remain.

Further assessment by the salvage team Thursday revealed the initial amount of fuel aboard to be 4,500 total gallons of diesel, less than previously reported. No pollution has been sighted in the water or on shore.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are 11 mph with waves of up to 3 feet with a long south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to degrade through the weekend. Weather for Oahu is forecast as 25 mph winds with wind waves to 6 feet, but the vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

Responders Work to Remove Fuel, Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu

Responders are working to lighter all potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu.“The safety of the public is our primary concern as we work with our state partners and responsible party to address the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and captain of the port. “I want to thank our state and federal partners who worked with us to affect a safe rescue of the crew and continue to work with us on the response. The Coast Guard is also investigating the cause of the grounding.”

An incident management team has been established. The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party and commercial salvors to mitigate the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel. The salvage team is stabilizing the vessel with anchors and will attempt to lighter the vessel fully before dark Wednesday with the intent to remove it from the reef during the next optimum high tide, currently forecast for late morning Thursday.

Approximately 8,000 gallons of diesel, 55 gallons of lube and hydraulic oils and four marine batteries are reported aboard.

A safety zone has been established and is being patrolled by Coast Guard crews. The vessel is about 1,000 feet offshore of Kaimana Beach. The zone extends 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

The Coast Guard is working with NOAA’s marine mammal protection division, sanctuaries division, Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Fisheries and DLNR to minimize impact to any marine mammals. DLNR’s divisions of Aquatic Resources, Boating and Ocean Recreation and the HEER and DOH are assisting in evaluating and minimizing risks to aquatic resources from the grounding and salvage operations and potential fuel spills. No marine mammals have been impacted. Coast Guard survey crews will walk to the beaches as an additional impact assessment tool.

Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The crew was released to Customs and Border Protection personnel for further action.
The Pacific Paradise a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. The vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa and they were en route to the commercial port of Honolulu. No injuries or pollution are reported. Weather at the time of the incident was not a factor.

Coast Guard, HFD Rescue 20 Fishermen From Aground Vessel Off Honolulu

Twenty fishermen were transported to shore from an aground vessel less than a half mile off Honolulu early Wednesday morning.

 

Honolulu Fire Department Jet Ski crews transported fishermen from the vessel to a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium for further transport to awaiting emergency responders at Ala Wai Harbor. A Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter crew hoisted two of the fishermen and the master of the vessel and transported them to Honolulu airport.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received three reports of the 79-foot commercial fishing vessel Pacific Paradise grounded off Diamond Head near the Outrigger Canoe Club Channel Tuesday night. They responded by directing the launch of response assets.

The RB-M crew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu arrived on scene at 11:48 p.m. Tuesday followed by an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point at midnight. HFD Jet Ski, boat and shore crews also arrived on scene.The Pacific Paradise is homeported in Honolulu and the vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa. No injuries were reported.

The vessel is carrying a maximum of 13,000 gallons of diesel as well as assorted lube and hydraulic oils. No pollution has been reported. Further evaluation will be done after first light.

The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the grounding. Responders will work with the owner to assess damage and develop a salvage plan.

Weather at the time of the incident was reportedly winds at 11 mph, seas 1-foot or less with partly cloudy skies.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Ban “Bump Stocks”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today supported bipartisan legislation as an original cosponsor to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices. The legislation would also make violation of the law a felony and allow for increased penalties for offenders through a review of federal sentencing guidelines.

“In the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy, this bill is an important bipartisan measure that will ban devices that exploit loopholes in existing laws prohibiting automatic weapons. I urge my colleagues to take action and support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation. There is clearly more that Congress can and should do, like passing legislation that will require background checks to those seeking to purchase a gun, which the majority of Americans support. Bills like the one we are introducing today are an important first step to bringing people together around issues that best serve the safety and wellbeing of the American people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: “Bump stocks” are devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to allow rapid fire at a rate mirroring that of a fully automatic weapon — 400 to 800 rounds a minute. These devices are legal, unregulated, widely available, and can be purchased online for as little as $100. Their sole purpose is to exacerbate the rate of fire.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today is supported by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats, including Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Peter King (NY-2), Jared Polis (CO-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jacky Rosen (NV-3), Ed Royce (CA-39), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Ruben Kihuen (NV-4), Ryan Costello (PA-6), John Delaney (MD-6), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Gene Green (TX-29), and Charlie Dent (PA-15).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is also a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R.3947).

Hawaii Air National Guard Supports Hurricane Maria Relief Mission

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort.    The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (17 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.

A Hawaii Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, left Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this morning, heading to Puerto Rico, as part of the Hurricane Maria relief effort. The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (18 Airmen in total) will initially stage at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from where they will transport relief supplies to Puerto Rico.
Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Lee Jackson)

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaii National Guard leadership saw off the flight crews and maintenance personnel at Hickam Field.   “Puerto Rico is suffering through a disaster of epic proportions.  The people there lack electricity, food, water and fuel. The people of Hawaii will do everything we can to assist our fellow Americans while they work to recover from this horrible devastation”.

The C-17 crew has been tasked with flying first to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, where they will pick up relief supplies and additional personnel before heading to Puerto Rico.   They anticipate flying multiple missions, possibly including some to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was hit by not only by Hurricane Maria but also by Hurricane Irma earlier in September.

The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaii 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.

Pearl Harbor Welcomes USS Chicago to New Homeport

The Pearl Harbor submarine community welcomed the crew and families of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) to Hawaii following a homeport change from Guam, Sept. 28.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Sept. 28, 2017) Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Chicago (SSN 721) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a change of homeport from Guam. Chicago steamed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles in support of national and Pacific Fleet objectives, and participated in numerous national and international exercises while based in Guam over the past five years. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton)

“The crew and I were sad to leave Guam, but at the same time we’re excited to see our new home and start the next chapter for Chicago,” said Cmdr. Brian Turney, commanding officer of the submarine. “We are very happy to finally be in Hawaii and reunited with our families.”

Shifting a boat from one port to another can be a complicated task involving, families, Sailors and many civilian and military organizations working together, and Chicago was no different.

“It took a lot of planning and communication across many organizations to accomplish this change of homeport,” said Turney.

Turney thanked the Chicago’s Ombudsman Kalyn Kasten for her hard work ensuring families were taken care of during the transition.

“I just wanted to make sure all the families were squared away,” said Kasten. “That meant ensuring things like their pay was up to date, and they were met at the airport by someone.”

Kasten also said that while she loved Guam, she was excited to be in Hawaii and try new activities.
Chicago is scheduled for a maintenance period at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Once complete, the boat will return to the fleet ready to support the nation as one of the most advanced submarines in the world.

Turney noted how effective the Chicago has been in recent operations while maintaining a robust schedule.

“Since 2012, Chicago served as the tip of the spear in Guam,” said Turney. “She steamed hundreds of thousands of nautical miles in support of national and Pacific Fleet objectives, and participated in numerous national and international exercises.”

Now that the boat has arrived in Pearl Harbor and the focus of the crew will shift to work in port and capitalizing on local training opportunities.

Chicago was commissioned September 27, 1986, and is the Navy’s 34th Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine. Measuring 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Chicago has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Chicago is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The submarine is now assigned to Submarine Squadron 7 headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes for FAA Extension and Immediate Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R.3823, legislation that temporarily reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, provides tax relief to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, extends critical health care provisions, and modernizes aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency tax relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands comes after Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined colleagues in delivering a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to immediately mobilize additional Department of Defense (DOD) resources for Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

“While this bill failed to extend key healthcare and education programs that will be expiring soon, it included critical measures that will ensure the FAA reauthorization is extended, stabilizes the National Flood Insurance Program, extends programs for Teaching Health Centers, strengthens Medicare, and protects diabetes treatment programs for Native Americans.

“Most critically, this bill provides tax relief to Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who saw their lives and livelihoods upended by Hurricane Maria, as well as those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Congress and the Administration must take further action to ensure those impacted get the relief and assistance they so desperately need,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to read full letter

Hawaii Receives $2.7 Million to Improve Veterans Cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai

On Friday Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the State of Hawaii will receive over $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration to improve veterans’ cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai.

“Our veterans’ cemeteries honor the commitment we’ve made to our service members and their eligible loved ones at the end of their lives,” said Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Hawaii’s veterans have long advocated for needed repairs and improvements at cemeteries across the state, and the funding announced today meaningfully recognizes the sacrifice Hawaii veterans made for their country.”

“We’re very appreciative of the support for these important cemetery improvement projects from our Congressional and State Leaders and especially from the VA’s National Cemetery Administration,” said Ronald Han, Director of the Hawaii Office of Veterans’ Services. “These significant enhancements will continue to improve the quality of our cemeteries for those Veterans and their eligible loved ones who served a grateful nation.”

As part of the grant funding, Maui Veteran Cemetery will receive $1.3 million to support the raising, realigning, and cleaning of 1,225 headstones, as well as the restoration of 25,600 square feet of turf.

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery II-Hilo will receive $870,000 for the construction of a new maintenance building, entry gate with fencing, a flag assembly area, landscape, and supporting infrastructure.

Lanai Veterans Cemetery will also receive $582,000 for the construction of a new water system, as assembly area, 800 linear feet of fence, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

Collectively, the projects will serve 54,300 veterans and their families.

Statement From Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, released the following statement, Sept. 25.

Adm. Scott Swift

I have been informed by the Chief of Naval Operations that I will not be his nominee to replace Adm. Harris as the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. In keeping with tradition and in loyalty to the Navy, I have submitted my request to retire. I do so with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January.

Submitting this request now is done with an abundance of respect and admiration for the CNO and his leadership, as well as for the Chairman and Secretary of Defense as both of them face the challenge of selecting someone to step into the leadership role Adm. Harris has filled with such distinction over the last three years.

I have not requested a retirement date as there is much work to be done here in the Pacific area of responsibility.

Whether my timeline of remaining service is six weeks or six months, I will fill that time with the energy of an Ensign and the wisdom drawn from the 140,000 Sailors who report for duty every morning in the Pacific Fleet.