Red Hill Update – NAVY Says Water Remains Safe to Drink

Last week, Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, sent another Red Hill “stakeholder letter” to business and community leaders and elected officials. Fuller shared the latest information about the fuel storage facility and how the Navy is keeping drinking water safe.

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, left of right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit to one of the fuel tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where leaders and subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, left of right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit to one of the fuel tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where leaders and subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

The letter is a means for keeping communication lines open, providing details about ongoing improvements, and thanking public officials and the community for support to the military and its mission in Hawaii.

Fuller’s letter opens with a note of appreciation.

“Before I discuss Red Hill, I feel honored to thank you for your heartfelt expressions of aloha and continued support to the families, friends and colleagues of the 12 Marines who recently lost their lives during night training off of Oahu.”

Regarding new information about advancements in and around Red Hill:

“I am pleased to report that on December 4, 2015, staff from the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), and Region IX of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded a week of face-to-face, in-depth meetings in accordance with the Administrative Order on Consent signed on September 28, 2015.”

Fuller noted, “These initial scoping meetings met our objectives.  The participants organized into groups to address specific sections of the statement of work within the order including:  tank inspection, repair and maintenance procedures report; tank upgrade alternatives report; corrosion and metal fatigue practices report; and the groundwater flow model and contaminant fate and transport report.  We are pleased with the outcome of these discussions.”

Regulatory agencies approved outlines for reports on fuel release monitoring systems and corrosion and metal fatigue practices.

The Navy is working closely with stakeholders. The team expects to complete the scoping work for tank inspection, repair, and maintenance procedures, and for tank upgrade alternatives, by the end of March.  Draft reports for release detection/tank tightness testing and corrosion and metal fatigue practices are due in April.

The Navy uses ten groundwater sampling locations now and plans to install four additional groundwater monitoring wells to “improve our ability to assess and predict the potential migration of subsurface fuel constituents.”

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Lovgren, fuel director at Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor‐Hickam. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Lovgren, fuel director at Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor‐Hickam. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Fuller noted, “The Navy continues to monitor the quality of the drinking water sources closest to the Red Hill facility and share that data with EPA and DOH.  As I mentioned in my November 2015 letter, over the years, we intermittently detected trace amounts of fuel constituents adjacent to the Navy’s Red Hill drinking water shaft . at barely detectable levels.  The other important facts about our trace detections are that these levels are far below DOH Environmental Action Levels (EAL), and most importantly, these levels pose no risk to human health.”

He added, “Most recently, in July 2015, we detected trace amounts of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (a fuel constituent) at an estimated value of 17 parts per billion, well below the EAL of 100 parts per billion. Our EPA-certified lab had to estimate the amount because the detection level was too low to accurately quantify.”

The drinking water near Red Hill is safe and has been safe through 70 years of operation.

“The water was and continues to be safe to drink,” Fuller said.  “Moving from today and looking into the future, the Navy will continue to perform diligent and careful water quality analyses on our water.  We will continue to submit water test results to DOH, and will promptly inform DOH, EPA and the public if there is ever any risk to the safety of the drinking water.”

Fuller concluded his letter with another note of appreciation to the community:

“Thank you for your continued support to our military and our mission in Hawaii.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any concerns regarding Red Hill or our progress.  I encourage you to review the Navy’s website on Red Hill and suggest that you subscribe to EPA’s website.  You can find those sites at and”

US Navy Prepares for Hurricane Iselle

In preparation for Hurricane Iselle, Commander Navy Region Hawaii has set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) FOUR for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) on Oahu and the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai with destructive and sustained winds of 50 knots or greater possible within 72 hours.
DoD civilian and military personnel and their families who live and work on JBPHH and PMRF should take this opportunity to complete preparation of family disaster kits and stock up on food, bottled water, dry milk, batteries, flashlights, candles and other emergency supplies.  Pick up any last minute material for your hurricane kit.  Prepare your home by securing all exterior furniture and loose objects.    Fill the gas tank of your vehicle and keep it above ¾ full as you complete your preparations.  The closer the hurricane is, the longer the lines for gas and groceries.

Go to the Hawaii State Civil Defense website and review closest shelter locations. JBPHH personnel and their families should monitor the Navy Region Hawaii and JBPHH Facebook and websites for updates, listen to recorded messages on the JBPHH Straight Talk Line at (808) 421-4000, and tune in to Joint Base Television (Oceanic Ch. 2) on base.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Commanding Officer, CAPT Stanley Keeve would like to emphasize the importance of gathering your belongings around the exterior of your house. Things like your lanai furniture, propane tanks and grills, children’s toys and bikes, garbage cans and doormats can be removed from your house during the high winds. Be vigilant and police your house. We also recommend filling your bathtub with water, to be used as flushing water in the event of loss of water.

Ensure that you and your pet are prepared for the upcoming severe inclement weather.

Remain vigilant and listen to local news for updates.

**This notice contains general information that may be specific to the JBPHH geographical area.  Personnel at PMRF, MCBH and other geographically separate installations should also monitor and follow locally provided guidance.

Vintage Warbirds Make Historic Landing on Ford Island Runway – Navy Assists With Fly In

In preparation for their December 7th flyover ceremonies at the USS Arizona Memorial and for Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s 7th Anniversary gala fundraiser tonight, two vintage warbirds made a historic landing on Ford Island Runway today at 9am. Navy runway #04/22 has been closed to air traffic for years. The Navy assisted in this fly in today.


At approximately 9am, Bruce Mayes of Pacific Warbirds piloted his North American SNJ T-6 Texan on to the Ford Island Runway  followed by Harry Greene in his Boeing Stearman PT-17, landing about 9:15am.


Both warbirds will be standing guard at Hangar 37 tonight at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s 7th Anniversary fundraiser gala “Some Enchanted Evening.” 450 guests are expected to attend. Loretta Ables Sayre will entertain. Dan Cooke is emcee. The event is to raise funds for the Museum’s Education and Restoration projects.


“We’re honored to have these great warbirds gracing our event tonight,” said Museum Executive Director Ken DeHoff. “It’s a wonderful sight to see them in the air over Ford Island and landing on historic Ford Island Runway.”


Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, which depends on membership and donations for its support. A Smithsonian affiliate Museum, it is also rated one of the top 10 aviation attractions nationally by TripAdvisor. Located at 319 Lexington Boulevard, Historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818. 808-441-1000.


Congrats to Mr. & Mrs. Gonzalez – How Honorable You Are “Sir”

I noticed a US NAVY sailor today blindfolded and a young lady walking him around the hotel I’m staying and snapped this picture.

No... she's not pilfering his wallet... yet. ;)

No… she’s not pilfering his wallet… yet. ;)  HMT II Mr. and Mrs. Gonzalez

I’ve now learned that they had planned to get married today and he was doing his part to make sure that he did not see his bride before they actually got married.  (How honorable)

RIMPAC 2012 Enters Final Week of Exercises

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

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

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Navy Invites Public in Hawaii, San Diego to Open-House Meetings on Draft EIS

The U.S. Navy encourages the public to attend open-house public meetings in Hawaii June 12-15 and on June 20 in San Diego to learn about and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS) for Navy training and testing activities in the Hawaii-Southern California Study Area.

The HSTT Draft EIS/OEIS takes a comprehensive look at the effects of Navy training and testing on the ocean environment in Hawaii and Southern California, incorporating the latest science. Four open house public meetings will be held in Hawaii and one in San Diego, Calif., to inform the public about the Navy’s Proposed Action and to obtain comments on the Proposed Action and alternatives, and the accuracy and adequacy of the Draft EIS/OEIS analysis. The public may arrive at any time during the open house public meetings.

Click to enlarge

There will not be a formal presentation; however, Navy representatives will be available to provide information and answer questions about the Proposed Action and Draft EIS/OEIS. The open house public meetings will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at:

Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Location: Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria
4319 Hardy St.
Lihue, HI 96766

Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Location: Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria
795 Onehee Ave.
Kahului, HI 96732

Date: Thursday, June 14, 2012
Location: East Hawaii Cultural Center
141 Kalakaua St. Hilo, HI 96720

Date: Friday, June 15, 2012
Location: McKinley High School Cafeteria
1039 S. King St.
Honolulu, HI 96814

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Location: Marina Village Conference Center Starboard Room
1936 Quivira Way
San Diego, CA 92109

The Navy proposes to conduct training and testing activities primarily within existing range complexes and operating areas located in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands and off the coast of Southern California, Navy pierside locations in both areas and a transit corridor connecting the Hawaii and Southern California range complexes. The Proposed Action includes the use of active sonar and explosives. The HSTT Draft EIS/OEIS updates the science and analyses needed to continue critical Navy training and testing in the Study Area. The Draft EIS/OEIS combines multiple previous studies into one, thereby incorporating expanded areas and new science, platforms and activities.

Copies of the Draft EIS/OEIS are available to the public at and at the following information repositories:


. Lihue Public Library, 4344 Hardy St., Lihue, HI 96766
. Kailua-Kona Public Library, 75-138 Hualalai Road, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
. Wailuku Public Library, 251 High St., Wailuku, HI 96793
. Hilo Public Library, 300 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo, HI 96720
. Hawaii State Library, Hawaii and Pacific Section, 478 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813


. San Diego Central Library, 820 E. St., San Diego, CA 92101
. Long Beach Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, CA 90822

The Navy is accepting comments throughout the 60-day public comment period, from May 11, 2012, to July 10, 2012. All comments must be postmarked or received online by July 10, 2012, for consideration in the Final EIS/OEIS.

Written comments may be submitted via the project website at, in person at the public meetings or by mail to:

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest
Attention: HSTT EIS/OEIS Project Manager – EV21.CS
1220 Pacific Highway, Building 1, Floor 3
San Diego, CA 92132-5190

Visit the project website at to learn more about the project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Hinman

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

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

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

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

Lucky #7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

USNS Mercy Characteristics:

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

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

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

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

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Navy Receives Superferries… Will Be Used in Japan for Troop and Equipment Transport

The Navy has just gotten $210 million worth of high speed cats for $35 million. The U.S. Maritime Administration reports that it has now transferred the former Hawaii super ferries Huakai and Alakai to the U.S. Navy and that the Navy provided $35 million to the Maritime Administration for both vessels.

Back in October 2005 we reported shipbuilder Austal USA as saying that the order for the pair had become unconditional following Maritime Administration approval of a $139,731,000 Title XI loan guarantee, or approximately 78.5 percent of a total shipbuilding project cost of $178 million. That allowed the signing of a $210 million financial closing agreement .

That works out at a ship price of $105 million a copy (at 2005 prices), which compares with the $151.8 million to $185.4 million a copy the Navy is paying for the seven JHSV’s on order at Austal USA.

The Navy plans to use Huakai and Alakai to transport troops and equipment to training areas from Okinawa and other locations. These vessels will help the Navy meet these unique operational requirements without the need to build new vessels. Powered by waterjet engines, the catamarans can each carry 288 cars and 866 passengers.

The Maritime Administration took possession of the two ships after Hawaii Superferry, Inc., defaulted on the loans that the Maritime Administration had guaranteed.

The vessels are currently docked at Lamberts Point in Norfolk, Va.

Navy Plans to Deploy a “Great Green Fleet” Powered by Alternative Fuels

I’ve had the opportunities to do a lot of cool stuff in the last few years with the US Navy.  Everything from getting flown out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean and landing on the USS Ronald Reagan and getting catapulted off it, to going out to sea with the Destroyer USS Chung Hoon, and just recently getting a tour of the nuclear powered submarine the USS Cheyenne.

Commander Coins I've received

I just read that next year the US Navy is going to be doing some exercises off the Hawaii coast that will involve the fleet using alternative fuels:

This year off the Hawaiian coast, an exercise will demonstrate a green strike group of Navy ships, and by 2016 the Navy plans to deploy a “Great Green Fleet” powered entirely by alternative fuels, said Chris Tindal, the director of operational energy in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy.

For the Hawaii exercise, “we’ve got a carrier and a submarine on nuclear power, but then we also will have the air wing on the carrier using biofuels, along with two destroyers and a cruiser,” Tindal said. “That’s going to be a big opportunity for us to show that it really can happen…”

This sounds like a real good opportunity for Big Island farmers to start getting more into the Biofuel crops real soon!  Now I just need to get in good with the new Admiral that just took charge of the Pacific Fleet.  Admiral Cecil Haney… can you hear me… I’d love to check out these exercises!

Its a Bird! Its a Plane… Its RoboCopter in Hawaii to Keep Tabs on Navy’s Biofuel Plants

The US Navy and the US Department of Agriculture have teamed up to use Robotic Copters to keep tabs on the Navy’s new Biofuel Plants on Maui.

Photo: Leptron

 The Navy is hoping to one day run a huge chunk of its fleet on biofuels. So the Navy’s advanced researchers — and their partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture — are turning to a tiny robotic helicopter to help them figure out which crop they might be able to convert into their fuel of the future.

The experiment is taking place over 35,000 acres of Maui soil, on the fields of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar, the state’s largest commercial sugar plantation. That’s the site of a $10 million, five-year gamble to test which of plantation’s crops might work as grow-your-jetfuel. The drone helicopter will track every temperature fluctuation and sprouting bud emerging into the Hawaiian sun…

Military Families Still Not Sending Their Kids to Hawaii’s Public Schools

The U.S. Pacific Command is in the middle of a $600,000 study to find out why thousands of military families are not sending their school-age children to public schools in Hawaii.

Students from Hawaii's Pearl City Elementary School give Sailors assigned to Commander Navy Region Hawaii high-fives for the command's volunteer work at the school April 26, 2011. CNRH was one of several Hawaii-based commands that participated in the School Partnership Program, a community outreach initiative that partners a military command unit with a local public school. Mark Logico/U.S. Navy

After determining that 9,000 of the eligible 24,000 school-age students in military families were not attending public schools, top military leaders commissioned Johns Hopkins University researchers to focus on attitudes and opinions about the Hawaii education system.

The study, which began in 2009, is expected to conclude in June…

More Here: PACOM studying negative attitudes towards Hawaii’s Public Schools

Navy Missile Destroyer Captures Pirates of South Yemen

Guided-missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91), assigned to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, disrupted a group of suspected pirates close to the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), south of Yemen, Dec. 19.

GULF OF ADEN (Dec. 19, 2011) A visit, board, search and seizure team from the guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) approaches a suspected pirate vessel after the Motor Vessel Nordic Apollo reported being under attack and fired upon by pirates. Pinckney is assigned to Combined Task Force 151, a multinational, mission-based task force working under Combined Maritime Forces to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The Merchant Shipping Industry Best Management Practices, Version 4 (BMPv4) encourages merchant vessels to register with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) while transiting areas known to be high risk for piracy.

At approximately 8:40 a.m., the Motor Vessel (M/V) Nordic Apollo reported to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) they were under attack and been fired upon by pirates from a skiff.

Having registered their route with UKMTO in accordance with BMPv4, Nordic Apollo’s position was relayed to counter-piracy forces operating in the region.

At approximately 11:00 a.m., the M/V Heather, operating 30 nautical miles from Nordic Apollo, reported suspicious activity by a skiff.

Pakistan Navy Rear Adm. Kaleem Shaukat, CTF 151’s commander, authorized Pinckney to investigate.

Nordic Apollo confirmed the pirate attack, but stated they no longer had sight of the skiff. In response to the distress call, Pinckney made best speed to the area, issued a radio warning to other vessels in the vicinity, and launched its MH-60R helicopter.

The helicopter crew successfully tracked and located the skiff, observing nine suspected pirates and pirate paraphernalia on board, including several ladders, weapons and fuel containers. The suspected pirates were seen attempting to cover their weapons with blankets and throwing the ladders overboard as Pinckney closed their position.

Intercepted by the helicopter and Pinckney, the skiff stopped and the suspected pirates threw their weapons, identified as five AK-47 rifles, one rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher and three RPG rounds, overboard.

Pinckney was given authorization to conduct a boarding using their visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team and once aboard, the VBSS team confirmed there were nine suspected pirates, one grappling hook, 36 barrels of fuel, and 75 and 45 horsepower outboard engines. The VBSS team scuttled one outboard motor and left the skiff with enough fuel and water to return back to shore.

Cmdr. Matthew M. McGonigle, Pinckney’s commanding officer, praised the crew for their efforts.

“My crew responded in an exceptional reaction time and with complete professionalism. With the helicopter in the air, acting in conjunction with the ship, we were able to have full coverage of the situation and stop them carrying out any further illegal activities.

“The operation was carried out in accordance with our pre-rehearsed responses to such an event, and I am very proud of the Pinckney’s crew and all those involved.”

Piracy is a threat to the security of all nations and requires an international solution. The presence of coalition navy vessels in the region demonstrates a commitment to regional security and stability. To continue to counter and deter piracy successfully, coalition efforts must be complimented by proactive measures by commercial shippers, regional governments, and the international community.

Pinckney, homeported in San Diego, is assigned to Combined Task Force 151, a multi-national, mission-based task force working under Combined Maritime Forces, to conduct counter-piracy operations in the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean.

Visiting Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial and The Pacific Aviation Museum

One of my good friends from high school is currently visiting Hawaii and last weekend I met him over on Oahu the day I set the Tandem Skydiving Altitude Record with SkyDive Hawaii.  We had a few drinks at Dukes Canoe Club in Waikiki and then I let him and his girlfriend explore Waikiki while I checked into the Waikiki Resort Hotel and rented a car from Discount Hawaii Car Rental  for only $20.00 for 24 hours!

I woke up bright and early in the morning from my one night stay at the Waikiki Resort Hotel and we headed out to Pearl Harbor leaving the Hotel at about 7:00 in the morning.  I forgot that the Honolulu Marathon would be blocking off much of Waikiki so it became kind of a maze getting out of there and off to Pearl Harbor where we got there just in time to pick up free tickets on the first US Navy boat to the Arizona Memorial.

They issue free tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial

While I have done lots of interesting stuff with the Navy and I’ve seen Pearl Harbor as a guest on several embarks with the US Navy… this was the first time that I had ever gone to the USS Arizona Memorial inside of Pearl Harbor so it was quite special.

One of the displays in the Pearl Harbor Museum

We were going just four days after the 70th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and I wasn’t sure how busy or packed the place was going to be… but I was quite happy to get on that first boat without having to wait in a long line… as anyone that knows me… knows I hate long lines!

The US Navy provides a free ferry to and from the USS Arizona Memorial

Most of us have seen pictures of the memorial, but I can tell you now personally that it’s a whole different experience visiting it in person.

USS Arizona Memorial

As you enter the memorial, it’s lined with a few flags from around the world.

Flags in the USS Arizona Memorial

Then as you proceed forward into the chamber it opens up and there are 21 windows to view out of the memorial.

Inside the chamber folks can look down at the sunken vessel through a hole in the memorial

You really feel the aura of the place and it’s almost kind of a haunting feeling knowing that you are literally standing on the tomb of so many sailors that lost their lives on that fateful day.

Honoring the sailors that lost their lives

Of course I had to get the mandatory picture of the “Tears of the Arizona”.

"Tears of the Arizona" - Oil still leaks to this day

The memorial is staffed with folks that know anything you may ever want to know about the USS Arizona and are more then happy to discuss things with you.  The total tour of the place once you actually get on the ferry is about 45 minutes long.

One of the few remaining parts of the USS Arizona still above the surface

After touring the USS Arizona Memorial we took a shuttle across to Ford Island and went and got a private Aviators Tour at Pacific Aviation Museum.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

This was also the first time I had ever been to this museum so I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised with the knowledge of our tour docent as he explained the history of the airplanes at the museum.

Inside Hangar 37

I learned some of the stories about the planes and the pilots that flew the planes during the war.

Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Type 0 (Naval Carrier-based Fighter)

What was really impressive was the shape that some of these old planes had been remodeled to and I know it must take a lot to get them back to looking the way they were during World War II.

The Cactus Air Force

While the tour itself is about 2 hours long… we had a shorter more condensed tour because we had an appointment we had to make with the US Navy so we unfortunately didn’t even get to the other hangar.

Former President George W.H. Bush trained in this actual plane

We made our way to the Laniakea Cafe and had lunch and then made our way to a private submarine tour on the USS Cheyenne courtesy of the US Navy.

The newly restored Ford Island Control Tower

I just wanted to say thanks to the Pacific Aviation Museum for hooking us up with the free Aviators Tour.  Wish we would have had more time to spend with the docent!

Touring “The Legend” – The US Navy Nuclear Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773)

The US Navy has been very kind to me over the last few years, inviting me to some very unique experiences and this past Sunday I got the opportunity to have another one!

I was invited to tour the US Navy Nuclear Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) with a friend of mine from high school.

Commander Gary A. Rogeness, Me, Tracey Hewitt Hawkins and Matt Heaps board "The Legend"

We started the tour by meeting up with Commander Gary A. Rogeness who welcomed us and briefed us about the history of the US Navy’s Submarine Fleet and about the history of the USS Cheyenne itself.

Notice the bell?

Anytime a “ranking” officer either leaves the submarine or boards the submarine… the bell in the picture is rung notifying folks that a ranking officer is boarding or leaving the submarine.

The only way in and out of a submarine

After answering some initial questions, Commander Rogeness turned the tour over to Senior Officer Alvarez who then lead us down a tiny hole in the top of the sub down to the first level of the submarine.

Alvarez conducts the tour of the submarine

The sub was launched on April 16, 1995 and Commissioned on September 13, 1996.  The sub is complemented by 17 Officers, 16 Chief Petty Officers and 130 Enlisted Sailors.

Pfft... I wish!

We got to see most of the submarine and there were only a few things that were classified where they didn’t want us taking pictures of stuff.

The Perioscope

While the sub was in port… it wasn’t carrying any Tomahawk Missiles at the time… however it is capable of launching both Tomahawk Missiles as well as these MK48 ADCAP Torpedoes.

a MK48 ADCAP Torpedo

MK48 ADCAP Torpedo

They call a Navy member who is enlisted to one of the 52 Submarines in the US Navy a “Submariner” and the screening process to become a submariner is quite strict.   The commander said the thing that he looks for most in a potential Submariner is the ability to work in teams and be good at team work.

Nine folks share these tight sleeping quarters and folks that are tall literally have to sleep in a fetal position, however, they can also sleep in the Torpedo rooms if there is no Torpedoes being stored at the time.

“This is perhaps the most difficult and demanding assignment in the Navy.  There is not an instant during his tour as a submariner that he can escape the grasp of responsibility.  His privileges in views of his obligations are almost ludicrously small, nevertheless, it is the spur which has given the Navy it greatest mariners – the men of the Submarine Service.

Inside the sub

I asked them if they had internet capability out at sea and they said no, however, when they are in port… they can run a coaxial cable to the submarine so that at least they can have cable tv when in port.

Commanders Quarters if I remember correctly

The maximum depth the USS Cheyenne can dive to is in excess of 800 feet and has a maximum speed in excess of 25 knots.

The only real limitation on how long the sub can stay out at sea is the amount of food the kitchen staff has available

The Cheyenne is one of the most advanced nuclear submarines in the world and creates it’s own water and oxygen.

Alvarez talks about some of the technology on board the submarine

As the tour was ending, we met back up with the Commander of the Submarine to ask a few more questions and learn more about the Submarine.  Commander Rogeness is really proud of his crew that is enlisted on the Cheyenne and has nothing but high praise for his officers.

Front side of the commanders coin

Commander Rogeness then took out a Commanders Coin and handed it to me and told us some more stories about submarine life.  I slid the coin back to him but then he said I could keep it!

Back side of a USS Cheyenne Commanders Coin

I’ve been wanting to take a submarine tour for a long time now and I’m stoked that it was one of most capable nuclear submarines in the world that I finally got to take a tour on!  The Commander lead us on our way off the sub and thanked us for visiting his sub!

Commander Rogeness and I in front of the Cheyenne (notice the small Cheyenne pin on my hat!)

Not only did commander Rogeness give me a Commanders Coin… he took the USS Cheyenne pin off his shirt and gave it to me!

Talk about giving me the pin off his shirt!!! Mahalo!

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and I really gained a new found respect for these submariners.  I myself don’t think I could handle it as I’m a bit claustrophobic and I don’t think I could handle long times at sea… That and I need my dang internet!

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

Related Posts:

Mahalo Commander Mike McCartney

So I received my first ever “Commanders Coin

Presentation of a coin qualifies as an award when given for outstanding performance, specific achievement, or a unique achievement that contributes to command effectiveness.  Recommend that coins given as awards be limited in number, accounted for in a written record, and not personalized with the Commander’s name.

I didn’t even know these things existed!

Coins purchased with appropriated funds may only be given as awards. Presentation of a coin qualifies as an award when given for outstanding performance, specific achievement, or a unique achievement that contributes to command effectiveness.  ORF may only be used to purchase mementos for specific classes of individuals such as foreign dignitaries or prominent citizens. Coins given as gifts, tokens of appreciation, recognition of routine performance of duty, or to instill unit pride are not awards.  Coins used this way should be purchased using private funds.

Out to Sea on the Destroyer USS Chung-Hoon

Well I just got back from a couple days on Oahu and all I can say is WOW!

A week ago, I got a message from someone with the US Pacific Command inviting my wife and baby to come along board the Navy Destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, for their “Family Day” that they were having along with bringing on folks from the  Navy League Honolulu Council who have adopted the Chung-Hoon as their own special ship.

I accepted the invite and I had been eagerly waiting to tell folks all about this opportunity of a lifetime, but I agreed not to say anything until after I went on the trip.

Unfortunately, my son has school and we weren’t gonna pull him out for two days although I wanted to.  There were a few other kids on the boat and they certainly were having the time of their life.

I was stoked to know that I would be in the comfort of other non military folks who are also into blogs and social media:

There was internet-tech guru, Burt Lum from Bytemarks, the ever popular Honolulu Advertiser Blogger – Shauna Goya, of  “Odds and Ends“, the inspirational and crafty photographer Dallas Nagata, also Kaimana Pine from KDesign Hawaii and Kanu Hawaii was a last minute entrant and  we were also joined by Russell Mesinas of the Air Force and Christie Shimabuku of the Waikiki Resort Hotel.

I met with the Public Affairs people at 8:00 at the Pass & ID office by the main Nimitz gate and they brought us into the secured area in their Public Affairs van.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures as we were driving down to where USS Destroyer Chung-Hoon was based at, but once we got to the ship, we were pretty much free to take pictures of anything we wanted… well accept the combat room… however, they did let us go into the combat room which was pretty cool to see them at actual work.

I was fascinated by many things and took over 280 pictures which you can see below, so I’ll just point out some of the cooler stuff that I saw that I can actually explain a bit.

Above is a picture of me sitting at the helm of the “bridge” of the ship.  Inside this part of the room is where the sailors actually steer the Destroyer from.

Here is a short movie I made inside the area…


They fed us lunch on the deck of the ship which consisted of kalbi, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn, salad, chips, and dessert… The problem  for me, is I was getting a little seasick so I wasn’t able to eat all of my lunch.

Then something pretty cool happened, we got to watch one of the Sailors re-enlist with the Navy which is a pretty inspirational thing.

His family was able to be there to support him in his decision:

We got to tour pretty much the entire boat from everything from the kitchen

to the places where the sailors sleep (3 to a room in this one particular)

There were lots of things that interested me… but these missile launchers for some reason really had my interest “piqued” and I wish I could have looked inside one of these hatches.

Our public affairs person with the Pacific Command asked the Commander of the Chung-Hoon, CDR Mike McCartney, to come out and talk with us and that was pretty inspirational.

On the way back into Pearl Harbor after being out at sea for about 4 hours, the ship decided that it would show off some of it’s power and they blasted away at a very fast speed for about 10-20 miles.  I went to the back of the destroyer and caught this video of the wake.


It was pretty cool because out of nowhere this Submarine started heading towards us and the two ships communicated to make sure there wasn’t a collision but they still got close enough so that I could take this picture as it was going by.

It was pretty interesting being on the ship while the Sailors were on duty at different stations.

I can’t possibly post all the pictures and write about them, you can click the pictures below for a larger version.

You can learn more about the USS Chong-Hoon by going to their homepage here: USS Chong-Hoon

The avergae age of a Chung-Hoon Sailor is 28 years old
Our Culinary Specialists cook 750 meals a day
We serve nearly 31 dozen eggs a day
On average the Chung-Hoon will carry 45 days worth of food
Our hungry Sailors consume 15 loaves of bread a day
The hard working Ships Serviceman clean 2200 lbs of laundry a month
Da Kine Barber shop will cut 250 heads of hair a month
The ships store makes $40,000 of sales a month