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EPA, State of Hawaii Receive Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Tank Upgrade Study

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) are reviewing the draft Tank Upgrade Study for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as part of a 2015 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with the Navy. The Navy study provides in-depth conceptual design information for six upgrade options, but does not recommend one option. EPA, DOH and the Navy will use the study, along with community input and other work produced under the agreement, to select the final upgrade option.

Click to view

“This report provides EPA and DOH with information for us to evaluate as the Navy progresses in upgrading the Red Hill tanks,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Work is proceeding under our enforceable agreement with the U.S. Navy as EPA and DOH oversee long-term solutions for the Red Hill facility to protect public health and Hawaii’s aquifers.”

A public information workshop will be held in spring 2018 to explain the report and allow EPA, DOH and the Navy to respond to questions and concerns from the community. After the workshop, the Navy will propose a tank upgrade option. EPA and DOH will hold a second public meeting about the Navy’s proposed upgrade decision before approving or disapproving the Navy’s proposal.

The Red Hill Tank Upgrade Study considered more than 30 different approaches to physical improvements to the tanks. Six of the 30 were ultimately selected for in-depth study and evaluated for 20 factors ranging from construction challenges and cost to inspection and maintenance requirements. Three improvement options use a single-walled tank system and three are double-walled systems.

“The Red Hill tank upgrade is an important issue to Hawaii residents, and the AOC outlines a process of careful analysis and decision-making that will result in the most appropriate final outcomes at the facility,” said Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director, Hawaii Department of Health. “The Navy has met an important milestone in delivering this assessment of potential tank upgrade options.”

The Tank Upgrade Study and the Navy’s decision process for proposing a tank upgrade option are available for public review and comment at https://www.epa.gov/red-hill/tank-upgrade-alternatives-red-hill.  Any questions, comments or concerns related to the Red Hill Facility can be directed to DOH and EPA by sending an e-mail to red-hill@epa.gov or contacting agency representatives identified on our Red Hill websites.

In January 2014, while refilling Tank 5, the Navy identified a loss of jet fuel from the tank and reported it to DOH, estimating that about 27,000 gallons was released. The Navy drained the tank and collected samples from existing water monitoring wells. Results of samples taken around Tank 5 indicated a spike in levels of hydrocarbons. The Navy increased the frequency of monitoring at a nearby Navy drinking water well, and current monitoring results for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system confirmed they were in compliance with federal and state drinking water standards both before and after the January release.

Red Hill, constructed in the 1940s, is a unique facility in the United States, consisting of 20 underground bulk fuel storage tanks built into a mountain hillside. Each tank is 250 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter, constructed of steel and encased in a minimum of 2.5 to 4 feet of concrete surrounded by basalt bedrock. Each tank has a fuel storage capacity of 12.5 to 12.7 million gallons, giving the facility a maximum capacity of approximately 250 million gallons. Eighteen tanks are currently active, and two are not in use.

For more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/red-hill and http://health.hawaii.gov/RedHill.

Pacific Paradise Finally Removed From Waikiki Reef

The grounded Pacific Paradise was successfully removed from the reef off Kaimana Beach Thursday.

Following removal from the beach, crews prepare the Pacific Paradise further about a mile offshore from Oahu, Dec. 7, 2017. A combination of salvage and response experts worked over a 58-day period to repair, refloat and remove the vessel from the beach. The cause of the original grounding remains under investigation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Todd Duke/Released)

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will assume the lead as the coordinating agency to work with the owner of the Pacific Paradise to conduct cleanup of the wreck site as the pollution threat has been removed. The state will assess any damage done to the reef and facilitate the next step in mitigating the impacts and rehabilitating the reef.

“This response has been long and challenging, but the professionalism and expertise of the crews that came together was nothing short of impressive”, said Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port and commander U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. We appreciate the patience and support of the public, the diligence and persistence of our partners and are grateful the Pacific Paradise was safely removed.”

Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed her sincere appreciation to everyone involved for their patience, persistence and care in getting the Pacific Paradise removed from the reef successfully and safely. Case said, “These efforts are complex, and with the addition of unpredictable ocean conditions, the position, size and weight of the ship on the reef, and its proximity to one of Hawaii’s most populated beach areas, it was important that we all worked together to remove the ship while minimizing risk to people and to the environment. DLNR is conducting a full assessment of the reef and any associated natural resource damage that occurred during the event.”

Response crews refloated the Pacific Paradise Wednesday and moved the vessel about 600 feet into the sandy channel before losing the tide. Crews conducted additional work to the vessel late in the day to prepare for the refloat and tow Thursday. That effort was ultimately successful in fully removing the vessel at 7:15 a.m. on the high tide using the tug Pi’ilani.

Just over a mile offshore the tow was switched over to the tug American Contender for the transit out to the EPA-approved disposal site 13 miles south of Oahu in federal waters. The responders are now in the process of sinking the Pacific Paradise in nearly 1,800 feet of water, which may take several hours.

During the operation to refloat and remove the grounded vessel minimal pollution entered the water.
The vessel originally grounded just before midnight Oct. 10. In the time since, local and mainland experts have worked diligently to remove the vessel as quickly and safely as possible with the least amount of impact to the marine environment. Responders spent the past weeks preparing and patching the hull, removing excess weight by pumping water and removing heavy spare parts including sheet metal and the rudder and adding additional buoyancy. The challenging environment and weather did slow or delay some work.

The Coast Guard is continuing the investigation into the cause of the grounding. That process will likely take several months. Once complete those findings will be released to the public and action will be taken to levee any fines or punitive actions that may be deemed appropriate.

USS Lake Erie Visits Hawaii as Deployment Draws Down

The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) arrived in Pearl Harbor, Nov. 30, following a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf.


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (June 11, 2017) The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) arrives in Sri Lanka to support humanitarian assistance operations in the wake of severe flooding and landslides that devastated many regions of the country. Recent heavy rainfalls brought by a southwest monsoon triggered flooding and landslides throughout the country, displacing thousands of people and causing significant damage to homes and buildings. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/RELEASED)

Lake Erie left her homeport of San Diego in May on an independent deployment with an embarked detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49.

The ship and her crew sailed more than 40,000 miles during the deployment. Sailors provided humanitarian assistance in Colombo, Sri Lanka, after severe flooding and landslides devastated many regions of the country and left 10,000 homeless. The crew also provided support to Operation Inherent Resolve in the Arabian Gulf and conducted training and operations with foreign navies including the Royal Australian Navy.

“The crew is excited to visit Hawaii after a very successful deployment in 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation,” said Capt. Darren McPherson, commanding officer, Lake Erie. “They have worked incredibly hard over the past seven months and I am extremely proud of each and every one of them. We’re all looking forward to some relaxation here in Hawaii before continuing our journey home to our families.”

Lake Erie served as the Nimitz Strike Group ballistic missile defense commander (BMDC) in addition to the other missions traditionally performed by a cruiser or destroyer.

Throughout her deployment, Lake Erie carried out two transits of the Strait of Malacca, 13 escorts of Military Sealift Command and U.S. flagged cargo and support vessels through the Strait of Hormuz; executed more than 20 restricted water navigation details and conducted more than 20 underway replenishments safely receiving over 4 million gallons of diesel fuel and 89,000 gallons of jet propulsion fuel with zero mishaps. Lake Erie also performed a national tasking BMD mission in the Western Pacific as part of a joint task force.

Lake Erie visited various ports during deployment, including Pearl Harbor; Singapore; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Hamad, Qatar; Subic Bay, Philippines; and Guam. Sailors participated in numerous volunteer events, including interacting with children at schools, visiting patients at hospitals, and socializing with animals at shelters.

During deployment, 116 Sailors qualified as enlisted air warfare specialists, 84 Sailors qualified enlisted surface warfare specialists, 113 Sailors advanced to the next rank, 32 Sailors reenlisted, and 40 Sailors enrolled in college classes. Crew members earned more than 150 awards, including six Sailors whom received Army Achievement Medals for their bravery during a medical evacuation.

Lake Erie is part of Nimitz Strike Group and operates under U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

Six Rescued From Sinking Vessel Off Hawaiʻi Island

The Coast Guard, and good Samaritans rescued six fishermen from the 57-foot fishing vessel, Jane, reportedly taking on water 110 miles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaiʻi on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017.

The six fishermen were rescued by the crew of the 70-foot fishing vessel VAK 2 and are en route to Hawaiʻi, where they will be met by emergency medical services and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

VAK 2. PC Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)

“This crew did exactly what they should by calling the Coast Guard to report their situation and abandoned ship safely into their life raft,” said Chief Petty Officer Robert Scott, command duty officer Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “We appreciate the assistance of the good Samaritans aboard the VAK 2 to quickly get these mariners to safety.”

At 7:22 a.m., watchstanders at the Sector Honolulu command center received a mayday call via satellite phone from one of the crewmembers aboard the Jane stating they were taking on water and in need of immediate assistance.

Sector Honolulu watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast notice to mariners and requested the assistance of the VAK 2 crew, five miles away from the scene.

At 7:40 a.m., an HC-130 Hercules aircrew and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point launched to the scene along with the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake (WPB 87316), an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in Honolulu.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene at 9:40 a.m. They quickly located the fishing vessel overturned and a life raft with all six of the crew inside 100 yards away.

Weather on scene was reported as 14-foot seas, 34 mph winds and scattered thunderstorms.

The Coast Guard issued a broadcast notice to mariners advising mariner in the area of the possible hazard to navigation posed by the overturned fishing vessel.

The cause of incident is under investigation. The Jane and the VAK 2 are reportedly tuna longliners homeported in Honolulu.

Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Arrives in Hawaii

The Nimitz Strike Group (CSG 11) arrived in Pearl Harbor Nov. 25 following a six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.  The strike group, along with the air wing and strike group staff, departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment June 5.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 21, 2017) U.S. Navy Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), as the ship prepares to moor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole Schroeder)

The strike group consists of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Howard (DDG 83), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Kidd (DDG 100), and USS Pinckney (DDG 91).

CVW-11 consists of Lemoore, California-based Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, VFA 154, VFA 146, Whidbey Island, Washington-based Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, Norfolk-based Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, and San Diego-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.

The strike group sailed more than 78,000 miles during the deployment (equivalent to approximately five times around the world), flew 1,322 combat sorties into Iraq and Syria, and dropped 904 pieces of ordnance. The strike group conducted training and operations with the French Marine Nationale, Indian Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Australian Navy, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, and Royal New Zealand Navy. These included Malabar 17 in the Indian Ocean, Intrepid Sentinel in the Gulf of Oman, and landmark Three-Carrier Strike Force Operations in the Western Pacific. In addition, the strike group conducted visit, board, search and seizure drills, close-in coordinated maneuvers, flag hoisting drills, sea surveillance, replenishments-at- sea, maritime patrol and reconnaissance, explosive ordnance disposal operations, and air, surface, and anti-submarine warfare training.

“Our entire team is excited to visit the great state of Hawaii,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, commander, Nimitz Strike Group. “After a very successful combat deployment in 5th Fleet, everyone is looking forward to being able to rest and relax before returning home. A couple days enjoying all that Hawaii has to offer is a fitting conclusion to a deployment during which Sailors and Marines across the Strike Group demonstrated an outstanding commitment to excellence.”

Over the six-month span, the strike group conducted port visits in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Chennai, India; Manama, Bahrain; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Hamad, Qatar; Duqm, Oman; Pattaya, Thailand; and Sasebo, Japan. Sailors participated in numerous volunteer events, including interacting with children at schools, visiting patients at hospitals, and socializing with animals at shelters. Pinckney Sailors also participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 50 th anniversary celebration in Thailand, which included an International Fleet Review, conferences, and a parade.

Nimitz Strike Group is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

USS Illinois Arrives in Pearl Harbor

The Pearl Harbor submarine community welcomed the crew and families of the newly commissioned Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) to Hawaii following a homeport change from Groton, Connecticut, Nov. 22.

PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 22, 2017) Virginia-class attack submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, after completing a change of homeport from Groton, Connecticut, Nov. 22. USS Illinois is the 13th Virginia-class nuclear submarine and the 5th Virginia-class submarine homeported in Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shaun Griffin/Released)

Illinois is now assigned to Submarine Squadron One headquartered at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam.

“Settling into a new home is always a challenge but the Navy has an outstanding support structure in place for service members and their families which greatly reduces the stress,” said Cmdr. Neil J. Steinhagen, commanding officer of Illinois. “Programs like these allow us to focus more of the ship’s resources toward mission preparedness.”

Illinois was commissioned and christened by the ship’s sponsor, former First Lady Michelle Obama, during a ceremony at Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut, Oct. 29, 2016.

It will be the 5th Virginia-class submarine stationed in Pearl Harbor.

“The support from Submarine Squadron One and Naval Submarine Support Command Pearl Harbor has been unmatched,” said Master Chief Machinist’s Mate-Submarine Auxiliary Jack White, Illinois’ chief of the boat. “The crew is energized for the transition and the opportunity to see more of what the Navy has to offer with this great experience.”

Illinois’ ombudsman Rebecca Steinhagen said the transition from Connecticut to Hawaii was smoother than she anticipated. “There are always bumps in the road with a move this big but the squadron was great to step in and help us take care of those bumps,” said Steinhagen. “Things like communication and the drastic time difference are also a factor.”

Steinhagen said the crew and families are excited for the transition from Connecticut to Hawaii.

“The crew and families are ready and anxious to get here and enjoy this weather year round,” said Steinhagen.

Illinois is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged while displacing approximately 7,800 tons submerged.

It is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.

UPDATE: Navy Aircraft Crashes Into Ocean Near Japan

UPDATE: 

Search and rescue operations continue for three personnel following a C-2A Greyhound aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa at 2:45 p.m. today.

Eight personnel were recovered by the “Golden Falcons” of U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 12). The eight personnel were transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time.

“Our entire focus is on finding all of our Sailors,” said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, Commander, Task Force 70. “U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching the area of the crash, and we will be relentless in our efforts.”

USS Ronald Reagan is leading search and rescue efforts with the following ships and aircraft: U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63); MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of the “Saberhawks” from U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 77); P-8 aircraft from the “Fighting Tigers” of U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 8; P-3 Orion aircraft of the “Red Hook” U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 40; Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Helicopter Carrier Japan Ship (JS) Kaga (DDH 184); and JMSDF Hatakaze-class destroyer Japan Ship (JS) Shimakaze (DDG 172).

At approximately 2:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time, Nov. 22, 2017, the C-2A aircraft with 11 crew and passengers onboard crashed into the ocean approximately 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa. The aircraft was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan.

The C-2A is assigned to the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero, Detachment Five, forward deployed in NAF Atsugi, Japan. Detachment Five’s mission includes the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and Distinguished Visitors between USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia theaters.

The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

The incident will be investigated.

A family assistance center is online at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Families who live off base in Japan can call 0468-16-1728. Families living in the United States can call +81-468-16-1728 (international); families who live on base can call 243-1728 (DSN).

A United States Navy aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa at approximately 2:45 p.m. today.

The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff.

The aircraft was en-route to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea.

USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the crash is not known at this time.

USS Olympia Returns from Western Pacific Deployment

The crew of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following the successful completion of a Western Pacific deployment, Nov. 9.

USS Olympia (SSN 717) approaches the pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 9. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Shaun Griffin)

Olympia participated in several coordinated exercises with U.S. and allied forces and completed three highly successful missions vital to national security.
“The total commitment and level of effort this crew has demonstrated over the last 18 months both prepared for and executing this deployment is nothing less than outstanding,” said Cmdr. Benjamin J. Selph, native of Prescott, Arizona and commanding officer of Olympia. “This group of young men conducted themselves as professionals of their trade and ambassadors of their country throughout the deployment and I could not ask to lead a more dedicated crew.”

The deployment was a great opportunity for junior Sailors to gain vital operational experience and to hone guidance and leadership skills from the senior leadership.

“The sincere efforts by our experienced submariners instilling qualities that every Sailor needs to be successful and safe helped the junior Sailors become more knowledgeable and helpful in the execution of ship’s operations,” said Master Chief Electronics Technician Submarine, Navigation Roland R. Midgett, chief of the boat and native of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

During the deployment, Olympia advanced 16 enlisted Sailors to the next rank, promoted seven officers and saw 37 submariners earn the right wear the Submarine Warfare device.

Between missions, Olympia enjoyed four port calls to Guam and Japan.
“Having the opportunity to visit Japan on two separate occasions was an unforgettable experience,” said Machinist’s Mate (Weapons) Fireman Raul Bonilla, a native of San Diego.

The return of the Olympia to Pearl Harbor marks nearly 33 years of commissioned service since November 17, 1984.

Olympia is the second ship of the Navy to be named after Olympia, Washington. Olympia is the 29th ship of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines. The submarine is 362-feet long, displaces 6,900 tons and can be armed with sophisticated Mark-48 torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Three-Carrier Strike Force Exercise to Commence in Western Pacific

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) strike groups will commence a three-carrier strike force exercise in the Western Pacific, Nov 11-14.

USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) carrier strike groups transit in formation during exercise Valiant Shield in 2007. The aerial formation consists of aircraft from the carrier strike groups as well as Air Force aircraft. photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen W. Rowe (RELEASED)

Units assigned to the strike force will conduct coordinated operations in international waters in order to demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort.

“It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three,” said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift. “Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region.”

While at sea, the strike force plans to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuvers, and other training.

This is the first time that three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since exercises Valiant Shield 2006 and 2007 off the coast of Guam. Both exercises focused on the ability to rapidly bring together forces from three strike groups in response to any regional situation. Ronald Reagan took part in VS 2006 and Nimitz took part in VS 2007.

More recently, U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have conducted dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific including in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea. These opportunities typically occur when strike groups deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations from the West Coast of the United States are joined with the forward deployed carrier strike group from Japan.

For more than 70 years, the U.S. Pacific Fleet has been a persistent and stabilizing presence conducting operations throughout the region. The Fleet is just as committed to maintaining those security commitments for the next 70 years.

USS O’Kane Departs Pearl Harbor for Western Pacific

The guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an independent deployment to the Western Pacific, Nov. 3.

PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 3, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) departs from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an independent deployment to the Western Pacific. While deployed, O’Kane will support theater security cooperation efforts and maritime presence operations with partner nations. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Gabrielle Joyner)

O’Kane has a crew of nearly 330 Sailors, officer and enlisted, and is a multi-mission ship designed to operate independently or with an associated strike group.

While deployed, the ship will conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations. Having steadily worked through a sustainment cycle, the ship’s commanding officer is confident in his ship and crew’s performance.

“The crew has worked hard over the past several months, participating in advanced level exercises and improving the material condition to be ready for our deployment,” said Cmdr. Colby Sherwood, commanding officer of O’Kane. “I am proud of the resiliency of these Sailors and all they have accomplished to maintain O’Kane’s readiness. We look forward to operating with our allies and partners from around the world again.”

O’Kane is named after Adm. Richard O’Kane, a Medal of Honor recipient, as the aggressive commanding officer of USS Tang during World War II. USS O’Kane was last deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2014.

O’Kane is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet and U.S. Naval Surface Forces. U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

Navy Releases Collision Report for USS Fitzgerald and USS John S McCain Collisions

The Navy released Nov. 1, a report detailing the events and actions that led to the collision of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan June 17, and the collision of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and merchant vessel Alnic MC Aug. 21.

“Both of these accidents were preventable and the respective investigations found multiple failures by watch standers that contributed to the incidents,” said Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson. “We must do better.”


YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

“We are a Navy that learns from mistakes and the Navy is firmly committed to doing everything possible to prevent an accident like this from happening again. We must never allow an accident like this to take the lives of such magnificent young Sailors and inflict such painful grief on their families and the nation.

“The vast majority of our Sailors are conducting their missions effectively and professionally – protecting America from attack, promoting our interests and prosperity, and advocating for the rules that govern the vast commons from the sea floor to space and in cyberspace. This is what America expects and deserves from its Navy.


YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 17, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

“Our culture, from the most junior sailor to the most senior Commander, must value achieving and maintaining high operational and warfighting standards of performance and these standards must be embedded in our equipment, individuals, teams and fleets.

We will spend every effort needed to correct these problems and be stronger than before,” said Richardson.

USS FITZGERALD

The collision between Fitzgerald and Crystal was avoidable and resulted from an accumulation of smaller errors over time, ultimately resulting in a lack of adherence to sound navigational practices. Specifically, Fitzgerald’s watch teams disregarded established norms of basic contact management and, more importantly, leadership failed to adhere to well-established protocols put in place to prevent collisions. In addition, the ship’s triad was absent during an evolution where their experience, guidance and example would have greatly benefited the ship.

USS JOHN S. MCCAIN

The collision between John S. McCain and Alnic MC was also avoidable and resulted primarily from complacency, over-confidence and lack of procedural compliance. A major contributing factor to the collision was sub-standard level of knowledge regarding the operation of the ship control console. In particular, McCain’s commanding officer disregarded recommendations from his executive officer, navigator and senior watch officer to set sea and anchor watch teams in a timely fashion to ensure the safe and effective operation of the ship. With regard to procedures, no one on the Bridge watch team, to include the commanding officer and executive officer, were properly trained on how to correctly operate the ship control console during a steering casualty.

Click to view report

Military to Convoy from Pōhakuloa to Kawaihae Friday, Nov. 3

Military convoy from Kawihae Harbor to Pōhakuloa Training Area. U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai’i photo.

Soldiers and Marines are scheduled to convoy from Kawaihae Docks to Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Friday, Nov. 3.

The convoys are scheduled to start at noon and finish by 3:30 p.m.

The convoy will be escorted by marked vehicles with rotating amber lights and signs. Motorists are asked to be on alert and drive with care around convoy vehicles.

For more information, contact the US Army Garrison-Pohakuloa Public Affairs Officer, Eric Hamilton, via email eric.m.hamilton6.civ@mail.mil or by phone to either (808) 969-2411 or (808) 824-1474.

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry Commissioned

The Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124), Hawaii’s first Sentinel-class cutter, was commissioned into service at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Tuesday.

Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony accepting the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters to be stationed in Hawaii.

Crewmembers man the rails aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) as aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point conduct a fly-over in two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters during a commissioning ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Oct. 31, 2017. The Oliver Berry is the first of the three Honolulu-based Fast Response Cutters that will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

The cutter’s sponsor Susan Hansen, who is a distant cousin of Oliver Berry was also in attendance for the ceremony.

Susan Berry Hansen, ship sponsor for the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) as well as a cousin of Chief Petty Officer Oliver Fuller Berry, presents a gift to Lt. Kenneth Franklin, commanding officer of Oliver Berry, during a commissioning ceremony for the cutter at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Oct. 31, 2017. The Oliver Berry is the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters stationed in Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

“It’s a great opportunity to honor Chief Petty Officer Oliver Berry’s legacy by commissioning this new cutter and engaging in the wide variety of Coast Guard missions of search and rescue, fisheries law enforcement, marine safety and security, among many others conducted in and around the Hawaiian Islands,” said Lt. Ken Franklin, commanding officer of Oliver Berry. “I am constantly impressed as I learn more about Oliver Berry through this commissioning process such as his resourcefulness and leadership in developing the specialty of aviation maintenance. The cutter helps cement the strong bond between our aviation and afloat communities and it’s a privilege to be a part of her plankowner crew and carry Oliver Berry’s legacy forward into the 21st century.”

The Oliver Berry is the first of three Honolulu-based FRCs that will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands.

The cutter is named after Chief Petty Officer Oliver Fuller Berry, a South Carolina native and graduate of the Citadel. He was a highly skilled helicopter mechanic working on early Coast Guard aircraft. Berry was also one of the world’s first experts on the maintenance of helicopters and served as lead instructor at the first military helicopter training unit, the Rotary Wing Development Unit which was established at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in 1946. He also helped develop the helicopter rescue hoist.

Leighton Tseu, Kane O Ke Kai, gives a Hawaiian blessing during the arrival of the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Sept. 22, 2017. The Oliver Berry is the first of three 154-foot fast response cutters stationed in Hawaii. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

Berry had an extensive career spanning much of the globe. He was involved in a helicopter rescue out of Newfoundland that earned him a commendation and the Belgian Silver Medal of the Order of Leopold II. In this case, Berry was able to quickly disassemble a helicopter in Brooklyn, New York, which was then flown to Gander, Newfoundland, in a cargo plane where he then reassembled it in time for the rescue crew to find and save 18 survivors of a crash aboard a Belgian Sabena DC-4 commercial airliner.

The Coast Guard is acquiring 58 FRCs to replace the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. The FRCs are designed for missions including search and rescue; fisheries enforcement; drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; and national defense. The Coast Guard took delivery of Oliver Berry June 27 in Key West. The crew then transited more than 8,400 miles (7,300 nautical miles) to Hawaii.

A crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) raises the cutter’s commissioning pennant during a commissioning ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Oct. 31, 2017. The Oliver Berry is the first of the three Honolulu-based Fast Response Cutters that will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

The cutters are designed to patrol coastal regions and feature advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from the stern.

There will be three fast response cutters stationed here at Base Honolulu by the spring of 2019. These cutters with their improved effectiveness in search and rescue will make the waters around the main Hawaiian Islands a much safer place for recreational boaters and users of the waterway. They greatly improve our on water presence with each providing over 7,500 operational hours, a 40 percent increase over the 110-foot patrol boats.

Hawaii Air National Guard KC-135 Tankers Return from Middle East Mission

Two Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, and associated personnel returned to Hawaii today following a deployment to the Middle East, where they had supported Operation Inherent Resolve.

A third tanker and additional personnel are scheduled to return later this week.  The KC-135 tankers and flight crews deployed six months ago to refuel U.S. and other coalition aircraft that are striking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.  Deployment durations for individual Airmen ranged from more than two months to six months.

Aerial refueling is essential to U.S. air operations around the world.  The refueling allows fighter jets and other aircraft to remain over the battlefield longer, which allows greater support to U.S. and coalition forces fighting on the ground.   The HIANG is not releasing individual names of 203rd ARS personnel due to possible threats from ISIS and/or ISIS sympathizers.

The 203rd Air Refueling 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.

Coast Guard Responding to Downed Helicopter Off Molokai

Coast Guard and Navy crews are responding to a report of a downed helicopter with two people aboard off the northwest side of Molokai, Monday evening.

Responding are:

  • HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), homeported in Honolulu, is en route.
  • MH-60R Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37.

Aircrews located debris along with chemlights in the water.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Response Coordination Center received a call from the Honolulu International Airport control tower at 7:26 p.m., reporting they had lost communications with a privately owned Robinson R44 helicopter with two people aboard.

The helicopter was reported to have left Honolulu today on a day trip to Molokai and was on its way back.

Weather on scene is currently 30 mph winds out of the northeast with 12 to 15-foot seas.

USS Preble, USS Halsey to Depart for Deployment

The guided-missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) will depart Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii for a regularly-scheduled deployment, Oct. 16.

In this file photo, USS Halsey (DDG 97) and USS Preble (DDG 88), front and rear, and USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) steam in formation during a training exercise in August. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Robyn B. Melvin)

Preble, with embarked helicopter detachment from Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 37, and Halsey will join the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, along with the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), and guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) for a routine deployment to conduct maritime security, forward presence, and theater security operations in the 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.

“The U.S. Navy carrier strike group is the most versatile, capable force at sea,” said Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of CSG 9. “After nearly a year of training and integration exercises, the entire team is ready as a warfighting force and ready to carry out the nation’s tasking.”

Preble last deployed from March to October of 2015. This is Halsey’s first deployment with TRCSG.

“The crew has done a lot of hard work to prepare ourselves for deployment with the strike group,” said Cmdr. David Reyes, Halsey’s commanding officer. “Team Halsey is confident and focused on accomplishing the mission that we have successfully trained for. We are ready to answer all bells.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) deployment is an example of the U.S. Navy’s routine presence in waters around the globe, displaying commitment to stability, regional cooperation and economic prosperity for all nations. Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment, Oct. 6, to the U.S. 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.

Hawaii Joins Multistate Court Brief Opposing Ban on Transgender Individuals in the Military

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s plans to ban open military service by transgender individuals.

Click to read brief

The amicus brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that banning transgender individuals serving in the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense, and harmful to the transgender community at large. The case, Doe v. Trump, was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The attorneys general argue in their brief that transgender individuals volunteer to serve in the armed forces at approximately twice the rate of adults in the general population, and that approximately 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserves identify as transgender.

In the brief, the attorney generals state that since adopting open service policies, “there is no evidence that it has disrupted military readiness, operational effectiveness, or morale. To the contrary, anecdotal accounts indicate that the positive impacts of inclusion were beginning to manifest, as capable and well-qualified individuals who were already serving finally were able to do so authentically.”

Additionally, the attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by Attorney General Chin for Hawaii, other states joining in today’s brief include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

A copy of the amicus brief is attached.

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.