Thursday, April 30, 2009

Arleigh Burke Departs for Deployment, Exercise Joint Warrior

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Candice Villarreal, Destroyer Squadron 24 Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) manned the rails aboard the guided-missile destroyer April 25, as the ship departed Naval Station Norfolk and set sail for a six-month deployment in support of maritime operations.

To kick off the deployment, Arleigh Burke and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 staff will participate in Exercise Joint Warrior. Lasting two weeks, the exercise takes place off the coast of the United Kingdom and incorporates American and North Atlantic allied forces. Other U.S. ships paroticpating in the exercise include USS Philippine Sea (CV 58), USS Porter (DDG 78) and USNS Kanawha (T-AH 193).

Exercise Joint Warrior will encompass Fleet Irregular Warfare Training (FIWT) focusing heavily on more non-traditional warfare areas such as counterpiracy and theater security.

"We're going to get a lot of realistic practice for the new emergent threats out there," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class (SW) Benjamin O'Connor, a boarding officer for Arleigh Burke's visit, board, search and seizure team.
Arleigh Burke is slated to support the U.S. maritime strategy in the 5th Fleet Area of Operations during its deployment. During the ship's transit to the region, Sailors on board the destroyer will earn shipboard qualifications and participate in numerous emergency drills, making the "Built to Fight" crew more efficient and battle ready.

"There are lots of new issues arising all over the world at any given time," said Damage Controlman Fireman Michelle Orton. "Our Navy helps protect all of the seas, and we have to be ready for anything. The drills and scenarios we are constantly running give us the training we need to be better at what we do."

According to Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Anthony Smith, Arleigh Burke has had a high percentage of crew turnaround over the last year.

"We are going back to familiar waters with a fairly new team," said Smith. "We're motivating a solid crew, training up nicely and preparing for a successful mission. By the time we come home, we will have accomplished a whole lot."

For many junior Sailors on board, the deployment also marks the first underway in their naval careers.

"It's slowly starting to sink in that we're not going to be going back home for a while," said Orton. "It's just something we have to get used to, though, because deployments come with the territory. They were part of the job description."

Quartermaster 1st Class (SW) Vera Smith said that while she misses her family at home, she knows the crew has a very important job to do for the next six months at sea.

"We're going to be out keeping the peace, showing anybody with bad intentions that we're here, establishing our presence," said Smith. "Being away from your family is easier when you know that you're playing a part in helping your children grow up to experience the same freedoms you have enjoyed."

Russia Launches Kobalt Military Recon Satellite


New Launch: 29 April 2009, 1658 UTC
Site: Plesetsk Missile and Space Complex, Russia
Launcher: Soyuz-U
International Designator(s): 2009-022A/SSC 34871

Russia launched a Soyuz rocket Wednesday carrying a covert military payload believed to be a spy satellite with a high-resolution optical camera.

The Soyuz rocket lifted off at 1658 GMT from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, according to Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The launcher reached orbit and deployed the spacecraft about eight minutes later, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Russian military officials said the craft would be named Kosmos 2450, fitting with the defense ministry's nomenclature for military satellites.

Tracking data indicate Kosmos 2450 is in an orbit with a high point of about 208 miles [335 km] and a low point of about 105 miles [169 km]. The orbital inclination was reported as 67.1 degrees.

Analysts believe Kosmos 2450 is a Kobalt-class satellite with retrievable film canisters that can return imagery to Earth through a mission lasting at least several months.

Earlier Kobalt spy satellites were operated in similar orbits.

Source: Spaceflight Now, Russian military launches new surveillance satellite and AGIs Launch Notifications

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eisenhower Operating in Arabian Sea

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) operates in the Arabian Sea displaying signal flags that read, "IKE, CVN 69, GR8R EACH DAY." The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is underway on a scheduled deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and the on-going rotation of forward-deployed forces to support maritime security operations and operate in international waters across the globe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rafael Figueroa Medina/Released)

Monitoring the USS Truman/Unitas 50

Things have been busy off the Florida coast courtesy of the USS Harry S. Truman. They are currently conducting flight ops in the FACSFAC Jacksonville operating areas.

Here are some UHF milair frequencies that have been monitored over the last 36 hours or so.

226.5000 226.8250 227.1000 227.7750 228.4750 229.6750 234.2250 234.2500 234.9250 235.5000 236.2750 237.1000 237.5750 239.9000 241.2000 265.2000 268.7500 270.5000 279.2750 349.9250 MHz (mode for above is AM)

If you are hearing anything from the the Truman group, please pass it along for future updates.

Should also note that the UNITAS exercise is using 3167 kHz as Link-11/16 coordination. They have also been heard in clear voice and ANDVT on 5717 kHz. Thanks Mark C. for passing that along.

More from the Milcom MP quick-stop when we get it.

South Florida Welcomes Service Members for Fleet Week Port Everglades 2009

For my good friends in south Florida, another monitoring opportunity is available with the annual Fleet Week. To RW and all, hope you have some success and please pass along any news from this event.

The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) enters port on opening day of the annual Fleet Week Port Everglades celebration. (U.S. Navy photo by Scott Lehr/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Joseph R. Wax, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-East

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 1,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen aboard multiple ships arrived at Port Everglades, Fla., April 27 for Fleet Week 2009.

The crews of USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), USS Toledo (SSN 769), USCGC Tahoma (WMEC 908), and the Canadian Navy HMCS Preserver (AOR 510), as well as Sailors from Naval Beach Group 2 and Marines from the 2nd Marine Division, will take part in fleet week festivities from April 27 to May 2.

An opening reception was held for all hands at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood, Fla.

"Fleet Week South Florida has become a tradition that the entire community gets involved with," said Joe Millsaps, the chairman of Broward Navy Days. "South Florida is famous for being a military friendly community. Fleet week gives them the opportunity to express their gratitude."

Hard Rock treated the service members to food and drinks while the Navy Region Southeast rock band, Pride, entertained the crowd.

"The ceremony was great," said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Joey Gonzalez, a member of the Fleet Week Port Everglades security team. "It made me feel really welcome to be here."

While in port for fleet week, the Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen will take part in a damage control Olympics, celebrity chef luncheon, blood drive, community relations projects, as well as visit local hospitals and schools.

Europe-Based Helo Det Provides Critical Support to Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kristopher Regan

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, the "Dragon Whales", Naples Detachment continually serves 6th fleet as the only U.S. Navy helicopter detachment in Europe.

"It's really rewarding because not only do I love to fly but I also get the chance to really make a difference in the average life of Sailors both by bringing them their mail through vertical replenishments or by rescuing someone at sea," said Lt. Stephanie Erwin, pilot for HSC-28 Naples Det.
HSC-28 Naples Det., forward-deployed to Naval Support Activity (NSA), Naples Capodichino base.

The main mission of HSC-28 is to provide service and logistical support for 6th Fleet and its tenant commands.

In addition to providing support in the Naples region, HSC-28 deploys with USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20).

"We deploy with the Mount Whitney as a search and rescue platform when it is underway," said Lt. Cmdr. Paula Langille, officer in charge of HSC-28 Naples Det.

The helicopter detachment flies multiple times a week to keep their skills sharp and qualifications up to date for both pilots and crew members.

"We usually fly about three times a week for hours at a time all for training," said Aviation Warfare System Operator 1st Class Marcus Monreal.

The detachment has only one MH-60 Sierra Knight Hawk which poses some challenges for the crew.

"Helicopters have a lot of moving parts, so there are many things that tend to break down," said Langille. "This means it takes everyone working at 100 percent all the time to make sure the aircraft is ready to fly, and we accomplish any mission."

The air crew and maintainers will spend three to six months deployed in Naples while the pilots spend closer to seven months before rotating back to Norfolk.

UNITAS Forces Storm Mayport Beach During Commemorative Exercise

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26 recovers a search and rescue swimmer during the search and rescue training exercise portion of UNITAS Gold. HSC 26 is embarked aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) participating in UNITAS Gold, the 50th iteration of the annual multinational exercise. Maritime forces from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay are participating in UNITAS Gold, which provides the opportunity to conduct and integrate joint and combined land, maritime, coast guard and air operations in a realistic training environment. The exercise is taking place April 20-May 5 in Jacksonville, Fla. and off the Florida coast. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Seth Johnson, UNITAS Gold Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Maritime Forces from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, the United States and Uruguay practiced an amphibious landing on Mayport beach April 25 during UNITAS Gold.

Participants arrived in four landing craft, air cushioned (LCAC) amphibious hovercrafts to demonstrate an amphibious landing and set up security perimeters for additional troops and vehicles to come ashore. The demonstration was part of the annual multinational partnership-building exercise known as UNITAS.

UNITAS Gold is the commemorative exercise for the 50th iteration and runs April 20 - May 5 off the coast of Florida. UNITAS is designed to foster mutual cooperation between participating militaries and develop their capability to respond in a unified manner to a wide variety of maritime missions. The beach assault was a culmination of more than three months of planning, coordination and training between participating nations.

"Last week, when we were at Camp Blanding we were working on shooting skills, patrolling formations and proper ways to employ weapons," said Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Barnes, a radio operator with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. "The biggest obstacle is the language barrier since the Brazilians here speak Portuguese and the Peruvians speak Spanish."

While waiting to board the LCAC, the marines and soldiers sat together, trading stories and preparing their weapons for the mock beach assault. Where communication proved difficult, U.S. Sailors and Marines acted as translators.

"We have been training at Camp Blanding to learn how to get down from helos, combat shooting and urban combat with all different nations," said 1st Technician Julio Rodriguez, 1st Battalion, Infanteria De Marina De Peru. "It is good training because everybody learns from everybody from Latin America, South America and the United States. That way we can all prepare to stand together against any threats."

As two hovercraft pulled out of the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), two more pulled in to embark the remaining marines and soldiers. Meanwhile the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) deployed marines aboard amphibious assault vehicles to follow up the multi-national assault.

The at-sea portion of the exercise continues off the coast of Florida. On May 4, the partner nation ships will return to Naval Station Mayport to prepare for closing ceremonies held May 5.

Amphibious assault vehicles assigned to the 4th Platoon, Charlie Company, 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion, approach Mayport Beach to disembark Marines and equipment during a Unitas Gold amphibious assault exercise. Maritime forces from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, U.S., and Uruguay are participating in UNITAS Gold, which provides the opportunity to conduct and integrate joint and combined land, maritime, coast guard and air operations in a realistic training environment. The exercise is taking place April 20-May 5 off the coast of Florida. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by CWO2 Keith A. Stevenson/Released)

Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Shifts Flag to Iwo Jima

The commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet shifted his flag from the amphibious assault ship USS USS Bataan (LHD 5) to his new flagship, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), in a ceremony at Pier 10 on Naval Station Norfolk April 27.

Vice Adm. Mel Williams Jr.'s three-starred flag was hauled down on board Bataan, which has served as the 2nd Fleet flagship since July 2008.

During Bataan's tenure as U.S. 2nd Fleet's flagship, the staff embarked the ship on two occasions, during Joint Task Force Exercise 08-4 in July 2008 to direct ready-for-deployment certification events for the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TR CSG) and the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (IWO ESG), and during the Eisenhower CSG's Composite Unit Training Exercise in January 2009.

Additionally, 2nd Fleet ordered Bataan to get underway in September 2008 to demonstrate at-sea readiness during the active hurricane season.

During the ceremony, Williams praised the crew of Bataan for their accomplishments, and thanked them for their hard work.

"You've displayed outstanding pride and professionalism," said Williams, "from the engineers who work in the plants, to the crew who work on the flight deck, to the fantail watchstanders to the crew on the mess decks."

Williams' flag was then raised on Iwo Jima, which returned from deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Operation as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group (IWO ARG) March 27.

"Although day to day, the Second Fleet staff performs operational level command and control ashore from its Maritime Operations Center," said Williams, "there is also an operational imperative for the headquarters staff to be responsive at sea. The designated Second Fleet flagship supports this mission need."

The practice of naval commanders choosing a flagship, from which to command their fleet, from among the ships at their disposal is a tradition that dates back to the days of sail. More recently, paragraph 312 of the 1909 version of the U.S. Navy regulations directed that the fleet commander "shall select one of the heaviest and most powerful vessels of his command as his permanent flagship and may, at his discretion, shift his flag temporarily to any other ship under his command."

USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), considered by some to be the most sophisticated command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence (C4I) ship ever commissioned, served as 2nd Fleet's flagship from 1981 until 2002, when the staff disembarked to allow the ship to the deploy to the Horn of Africa region in support of the global war on terrorism.

Since that time, Norfolk-based amphibious assault ships have served as the 2nd Fleet flagship on a rotating basis.

C-17 stage crews at Manas ramp up support for OEF

A C-17 Globemaster III from the 535th Airlift Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, takes off from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, April 18 with a load of cargo destined for Afghanistan. For the past five weeks, three C-17 aircrews from Pacific Air Forces have been flying three flights nearly every day in order to deliver needed supplies for the buildup of various bases supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson)

by Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFNS) -- Over the past five weeks, three Pacific Air Forces C-17 Globemaster IIIs have been flying round-the-clock missions from Manas to Afghanistan delivering special cargo in support of the Operation Enduring Freedom surge.

The "stage" operation set up at Manas included aircraft and personnel from 535th Airlift Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The stage was established in order to expedite moving critically needed supplies to support the buildup of Afghanistan operations without interfering with missions already scheduled.

"We flew three missions a day, shipping T-2 matting that is used to build temporary aircraft parking ramps as part of the OEF build-up," said Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Rooding, whose role while deployed here was C-17 stage manager.

"I worked daily with the planners and deputy directors to rapidly resolve issues as they came up," said Chief Rooding, the focal point for each facet such as maintenance, air terminal operations center and Tanker Airlift Control Center coordination, and aircrew issues. The command stage manager was deployed from Scott AFB, Ill.

The unofficially named 'Manas C-17 Shuttle' played an integral role in the Expeditionary Mobility Task Force triangle delivery system to move special cargo delivered from Japan via contracted 747 cargo aircraft. In turn, the C-17 crews staged at Manas were tasked to take the cargo downrange for the buildup of temporary flight ramp areas at various locations in Afghanistan.

Once the cargo arrived at Manas, the ATOC team quickly offloaded the pallets.

"Without the support of the ATOC, the transfers wouldn't have happened," said Maj. Clayne Bradley, an Air Mobility Command liaison officer. "It was pretty amazing how we all came together basically from all over the globe to work this operation," said the major. "The flyers came from Hickam and Elmendorf, and we received air mobility support from Scott AFB too.

"A great deal of effort by many people and over a dozen units, not to mention several nations, went into moving this cargo and we'd like to let everyone know what was accomplished in the end," said Major Bradley.

During this time, more than 5,280,000 pounds of cargo and more than 500 troops were carried down range. This was in addition to normal cargo and passenger movement operations that recently have moved roughly 20,000 personnel and hundreds of short tons of cargo each month from Manas to Afghanistan and back.

"I'm on the 'throw' side of the cargo that came from Kadena AB, Japan," said Major Bradley. "Of course, Manas was in the middle and the Bastion (Afghanistan) CRT (contingency response team) 'caught' those special pallets as they came in. It's kind of like throwing a baseball around the bases to get an out at home plate," he said.

Most of the cargo came from Marine Forces Pacific to support Marines deployed to Bastion. The "total force" effort helped improve, expand and establish multiple Marine expeditionary force airfields.

"This was something special because it helped stand up another FOB and plus up another," said Tech. Sgt. George Gaines, who is the ATOC noncommissioned officer in charge. "Any time a new forward operating base is stood up it is special to us because we know we made it happen by getting the building blocks for that infrastructure in place and on time," said Sergeant Gaines.

"No doubt the most satisfying part of moving this cargo was when the last aircraft departed carrying the last of the aircraft parking matting," said Sergeant Gaines, who is deployed from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron at McChord AFB, Wash.

"It sounds cliche, but knowing we can put a 'mission complete' on our part of getting that equipment in place brings us that much closer to stabilizing the region," he said.

Deal could be near to extend use of Manas Air Base

by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

U.S. officials could be nearing a deal with the Kyrgyzstan government to extend U.S. access to Manas Air Base, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters April 28.

Mr. Morrell reported progress in negotiations he called "reason for hope" about reversing Kyrgyzstan's previous decision regarding the base.

Kyrgyzstan's foreign ministry notified the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek in February that it had six months to leave Manas, a major logistical and refueling center that supports troops in Afghanistan. About 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo move through the base every month.

The decision was to end the arrangement the United States and Kyrgyzstan established three years ago that gave the U.S. annual renewal rights through July 2011. The United States pays $17.4 million a year to use the base.

But officials made it clear from the start that they hoped to get Kyrgyzstan representatives to reconsider their decision.

"We ... have been engaged in conversations with them about extending our use of that facility," Mr. Morrell said. "And I think we see reason for hope there that that can be worked out... We hope we're getting closer."

In the meantime, he said the military has been looking for alternative air bases in the event that that doesn't happen

"We have found a number of suitable ones" to support its northern distribution network, he said. "Should it become necessary to find other bases to fly out of and trans-load our personnel into Afghanistan, I think we've got suitable alternatives within the region."

Phoenix Express Forges Understanding within Combined Naval Forces

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Whitfield M. Palmer, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet

SOUDA BAY, Greece (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines conducted training exercises during Phoenix Express (PE09) with Spanish, Tunisian, and Moroccan Sailors and Marines practicing small arms familiarization and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) techniques aboard Greek training ship Aris, April 28.

PE09 is a two-week exercise designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships and is part of the overall U.S. Africa Command theater security cooperation strategy to enhance regional stability through increased interoperability and partnership among participating nations. Participating countries include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, Malta, Croatia, and the United States.

The training consisted of a compressed version of the 12-day Boarding Team Theoretical and Practical Module course taught at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Center (NMIOTC). The modules, taught by Greek instructors from the school and supported by the U.S. VBSS team, include small arms familiarization, clearing corner technique, and climbing techniques.

Servicemembers from each of the participating countries pass through the modules allowing the instructors and U.S. VBSS support team not only to teach techniques but also to observe what the participants from each country already know, according to Warrant Officer Niko Bouras, a NMIOTC instructor.

"This is a valuable experience for the instructors from the school because it widens our perspective in order to tailor the official curriculum at the school house," said Bouras.

The NMIOTC conducts the combined training for naval forces to better execute surface, aerial surveillance, and special operations activities in support of maritime interdiction operations by promoting skills and interoperability among naval units through training and simulation.

"It is essential for any team to be effective in potentially lethal situations, and we are learning to provide security in the region through these exercises," said Spanish Navy Capt. Jorge Tierno. "We don't have a training ship so this is a tremendous benefit."

Cargo container inspections with fast rope and repel training with participants from Spanish, Turkish, and Algerian militaries also continued today.

PE09 expects to go on with practical training exercises including damage control training and helicopter flight operations through May 4 when several ships from participant nations will go underway for the at-sea segment of the exercise.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Milair Frequency Changes - 4/28/2009 +MT Milcom Announcement

Time for some more aero frequency changes, updates and corrections. From the Milcom MP Quik-Stop . . .

124.5000 Anchorage ARTCC Cape Ramonzof AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services
128.3500 Kansas City ARTCC Richland MO RCAG Approach/Departure Services
266.8000 Anchorage ARTCC Cape Ramonzof AK RCAG Approach/Departure Services
284.6750 Kansas City ARTCC Richland MO RCAG Approach/Departure Services

Just a quick note. In my June Milcom column in Monitoring Times magazine I will have a comprehensive profile of NORAD including the first and most up-to-date list of frequencies published since the NEADS and SEADS merged into the Eastern Air Defense Sector.

So if your tired of old stuff and your NORAD list needs a face lift, be sure to get a copy of the June issue of Monitoring Times when it hits the newsstand next month.

USS Mesa Verda Participating in Unitas 50 in Atlantic

Landing craft air-cushioned vehicles disembark from the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) for an amphibious landing demonstration near Mayport, Fla. Mesa Verde is participating in the 50th annual UNITAS multinational exercise. The two-week exercise includes realistic scenario-driven training opportunities such as live-fire exercises, shipboard operations, maritime interdiction operations and special warfare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Grieco/Released)

USS Truxtun Joins the Fleet

By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Daniel Gay, Navy Public Affairs Element Detachment Southeast

CHARLESTON, S.C. (NNS) -- The Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Truxtun (DDG 103), was commissioned Saturday, April 25, during a ceremony at Naval Weapons Station Charleston, S.C.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead gave the principal address.

"I had the privilege of putting an Arleigh Burke destroyer into commission in my younger days, and I know what's ahead, there is a lot of hard work, a lot of challenges, but there is also going to be tremendous satisfaction," said Roughead.

The process of commissioning a Navy ship takes many years of trials and training and to finally reach this milestone is very important said Cmdr. Timothy Weber, commanding officer, USS Truxton.

"I feel exhilarated and relieved because we finally made it to this process after many years of hard work preparing to go operational," said Weber. "It's such a great feeling to join the fleet today with this great crew of men and women that are dedicated to supporting and defending our country."

Designated DDG 103, the destroyer honors Commodore Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822) who embarked upon a seafaring career at age 12. When the U.S. Navy was initially organized, he was selected as one of its first six captains on June 4, 1798. He was assigned command of USS Constellation, one of the nation's new frigates. Truxtun put to sea to prosecute the undeclared naval war with revolutionary France. On Feb. 9, 1799, Truxtun achieved one of his most famous victories when Constellation battered the French warship L'Insurgente into submission in one of the most illustrious battles of the quasi-war with France.

The newest ship in the fleet shares its namesake with five previous Navy ships: a brig launched in 1842, two destroyers DD 14 and DD 229, a high speed transport APD 98 (initially designated as destroyer escort DE 282), and a nuclear-powered frigate (DLGN) later re-designated cruiser CGN 35.

The plank owners of Truxton will share in this great naval history.

"This crew will be close for the rest of their lives," said Roughead. "The things that they have had to do, the effort they have put into building this ship, preparing this ship for where it is today, it's something that's brought them together in ways that ship crews don't normally have the opportunity to do."

The 53rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Truxtun, is able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Truxtun can also fight air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and she contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

"I feel confident, because my crew is such a great group of young professionals dedicated to doing a job well done," said Weber. "If we have to steam into harm's way we are ready for action."

Carol Leigh Roelker and Susan Scott Martin, descendants of the ship's namesake, served as sponsors of the ship and the ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when they gave the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

The 9,200-ton Truxtun was built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Ingalls Operations, Pascagoula, Miss .and has a crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The ship is 510 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines can power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots and push her wherever her country needs her next.

F-35 test plane flies over Eglin

by Samuel King Jr., 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft arrived here April 21 to educate the base and local community about the Department of Defense and world's newest fighter.

The arrival of the test F-35, called AA-1, kicked off a week full of events to showcase the aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base.

"We are very proud to host these JSF events," said Col. Arnold Bunch, the Air Armament Center vice commander. "We hope everyone has a chance to see the aircraft, ask questions and get a better understanding of its importance. This is the future of Eglin and of the Air Force."

Along with the aircraft, Lockheed Martin brought a cockpit demo, simulators and subject matter experts to give the base and community leaders a firsthand look at the cockpit and what it would feel like to fly the fifth generation fighter.

"What starts at Eglin, will change the world," said Dan Crowley, a senior Lockheed Martin.

Those in attendance here had an opportunity to see the $44 million fighter take flight over the base and local area during a sortie April 23. It cruised in the sky with two F-16 Fighting Falcon chase aircraft before passing over the runway for some touch-and-go maneuvers. Afterward, it was parked by the McKinley Climatic Lab for viewing on base.

Marine Brig. Gen. David Heinz, the program executive officer for the JSF program, stressed the importance of the aircraft to troops on the ground.

"The warfighters, the best and brightest of all our nations called to duty and asked to stand out on the very edge -- the pointy edge -- they are relying on us to deliver a safe, effective and affordable product," the general said.

Nine countries and three U.S. services have orders for the new aircraft and they all will pass through Eglin AFB to learn to fly the F-35.

The 33rd Fighter Wing will transition from an operational fighter unit into a joint training unit in October to educate and train the pilots. The first of the new fighters are scheduled to arrive here in March 2010.

Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Hurricane Op Plan Available

You can get the official Department of Commerce/NOAA National Hurricane Operations Plan for 2009 at

As always, as the season progresses and the need arises, this blog and it's sister blog the BTown Monitoring Post at will carry the latest frequency information as it relates to each storm. Don't reply on old outdated list and frequencies that are no longer valid, get the best right here at the Milcom Monitoring Post.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

CAP Radio Comm System Transition Has Begun

According to field reports, CAP has begun the transition to their new narrowband frequencies in several states. That means they are moving towards the new 12.5 kHz frequencies in the 138-144 and 148-150.8 MHz ranges. Time to dust off the old search buttons on our scanners and see what this super secret branch of our imperial government has finally moved to.

Any and all field reports are welcomed here and will be shared. Those wishing to remain anonymous will be so.

Below are my previous post on this blog on what use to be a mighty fine organization, who got themselves caught up in the post 9/11 DHS web of money, secrecy, and fraud, waste and abuse.

I have also listed the old and new CAP frequencies in our annual airshow guide.

The 2009 guide should be published online early next month on the MT website.

USCG Terminates HF SITOR Services

Martin Foltz posted the following on the UDXF newsgroup:

"I don't remember reading this here so I'm posting it. I've copied this message several times this month. I only hear NRV running a channel free marker with CW now."






UNITAS Ships Begin At-Sea Training Operations

Maritime forces from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, The United States and Uruguay sail in formation during UNITAS Gold, the 50th iteration of the annual multi-national maritime exercise to increase interoperability among participating navies. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Seth Johnson/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Grieco, UNITAS Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Ships from eleven nations got underway April 23 for UNITAS Gold, the 50th iteration of the longest-running multinational maritime exercise.

Maritime forces from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Uruguay left Mayport, Fla., and began the underway portion of the annual partnership building exercise.

"Through the years, UNITAS has evolved to fit the landscape, needs, and mutual naval and maritime interests of the Americas and Caribbean," said Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) and U.S. 4th Fleet. "As we move forward together, I am confident that future opportunities to work with our partners will not only strengthen our ability to operate together and provide for our nation's security but will also build personal and professional respect and friendships."

For 50 years, UNITAS has served as the primary maritime security engagement exercise among the militaries of the Western Hemisphere.

During the two-week exercise lasting from April 20-May 5, the United States and partner nations will train together in a realistic scenario-driven training environment featuring live-fire exercises, undersea warfare, shipboard operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense and surface warfare, amphibious operations, electronic warfare, and special warfare. More than 30 ships, two submarines and 50 aircraft from the U.S. and participating navies are involved.

"This isn't something we have an opportunity to do quite often," said Canadian Army 1st Lt. Michael Faber of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment. "The Canadian forces are very much arranged towards international partnerships and joint operations. UNITAS provides us a chance to practice working on our basic operational skills with people of other countries."

Faber also said UNITAS helps provide his team with the experience they need to be ready for almost any real-world operation.

During the exercise, Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen have the opportunity to train side-by-side with Latin American navies in a high-tech environment using state-of-the-art equipment. The relationships that develop from this exercise will help to foster cooperation and understanding between participating Navies.

A member of the Brazilian marines, Private Renan Gabriel said he is grateful his unit was selected to participate in this exercise. He said the differences between American and Brazlian operational procedures are almost non-existent.

"There are little differences between our two forces," said Gabriel. "We have identical fast rope and amphibious operation instructions."

"It's quite amazing," said Ship's Serviceman Seaman Philip Kozloff, a ship store attendant on board amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19). "It's great to meet other people from different countries and learn their customs or culture. It helps build our relationships with them abroad."

Marine General Visits Amphib Preparing to Deploy

By Lt. j.g. Tim Hawkins, Amphibious Squadron 7 Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), the flagship of Amphibious Squadron 7, hosted the I Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general at Naval Base San Diego for a three-day offsite planning meeting April 22-24.

As the Marine Corps places greater emphasis on operating from Navy ships, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Samuel Helland and 30 members of his staff toured ship spaces and held a series of strategy sessions aboard the Navy's next West Coast amphibious assault ship scheduled to deploy.

"The relationship between the Navy and Marine Corps is very important, and we chose an amphibious ship in order to bring forth the importance of that relationship," said Lt. Col. Brian Sanchez, a member of I MEF's intelligence staff.

Last June, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway unveiled "Vision and Strategy 2025," a new strategic vision that highlights the importance of looking beyond current Marine Corps commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan to increase focus on security-cooperation activities that prevent war in potentially unstable regions.

"It's all about getting back to our expeditionary roots," Sanchez said. "Some of our core topics are on readiness for those amphibious skills that the Navy and Marines work to build on."

Bonhomme Richard's senior officers led Marines on whirlwind tour of the 833-foot-long vessel, visiting spaces including medical, the main gym, hangar and engine room.

I MEF staff took particular interest in the berthing facilities I MEF's troops from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit will call home during an upcoming fall deployment.

"This is a four-star accommodation. The [ship's] staff has been nothing but good to us," said Sanchez.

More than 2,000 11th MEU Marines are scheduled to deploy with the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, which consists of amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard; amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7); and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

The BHRARG/11th MEU team is gearing up to participate in a series of pre-deployment exercises that will prepare the group for a full range of operational capabilities, from combat missions to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Sanchez added, "I'm proud to have the Bonhomme Richard as part of the I MEF/11th MEU team. This is a splendid vessel."

USS Hopper Returns from WestPac Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael A. Lantron, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) returned to her homeport of Naval Station Pearl Harbor April 23 following a three month deployment to the Western Pacific in support of the Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment program.

Friends and families on the pier braved the rain to hold signs and wave to their loved ones as Sailors aboard.

"They all go through so much while they're gone, so it's an exciting and wonderful sensation to know they're coming home safe and sound," said the wife of a Hopper Sailor.

Hopper Sailors were proud of their efforts working as a unit during their time at sea and joyful to greet their loved ones waiting on the pier.

"We really flexed our ability to be liquid in that we never knew what was coming up next and we did everything we were asked. It was just a great job by everyone on board," said Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Justin Storto.

"It feels great to be back in Pearl Harbor after three months," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Roberto Bonilla. "To come home and be able to hold my son and wife in my arms is a wonderful feeling."

After the ship moored and the brow was in place, Sailors and their significant others participated in a traditional "first kiss" ceremony, with the rest of the crew departing the ship shortly after.

"It feels great to be back in Hawaii. We're going to enjoy the time we have with our families and friends as much as we can," said Cmdr. Timothy Kott, Hopper's commanding officer.

Kott also complimented his Sailors for their extraordinary efforts throughout the deployment.

"As always, the crew performed remarkably; and everything we asked of them, they executed perfectly. Everything we did would pay us great dividends for our future certifications and for future deployments," said Kott.

During the deployment, the crew enjoyed five port visits, including Japan, Korea and Guam. In addition, Sailors also contributed to the host nations' schools and orphanages during four community relations projects.

Hopper departed Pearl Harbor Jan. 20 to join the John C. Stennis Battle Group and members of Destroyer Squadron 15 while supporting the Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment program. While on deployment, Hopper participated in numerous advanced phase training events and exercises in addition to acting as a ballistic missile defense asset by providing an increased presence of naval ships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

The Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment program calls for Hawaii-based surface combatants to focus on the Western Pacific by conducting intermediate/advanced training and regular deployments in the Western Pacific. The program also furthers America's maritime strategy by posturing credible power in the Western Pacific to protect our vital interests, assure our friends and allies and deter potential adversaries.

Hopper is 505 feet in length, 66 feet wide and has a maximum speed of 30 plus knots. Guided-missile destroyers operate in support of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups and are multimission platforms.

HS-3 'Tridents' Return Home

By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The "Tridents" of Helicopter Squadron Three (HS-3), who aided in the capture and transport of 16 suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden back in February, returned home to NAS Jacksonville April 16 after a deployment on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

HS-3 deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a component of Carrier Air Wing Eight for seven and a half months flying more than 3,800 direct combat support flight hours.

In January, the squadron provided three HH-60H aircraft to Commander, Combined Task Force 151 supporting counterpiracy operations on board USS San Antonio (LPD 17)and USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1). With piracy continuing to be a huge problem in this area, Navy forces are on high alert.

"All of our missions are dangerous but we just continue to do our job professionally," said HS-3 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Starkey.

The squadron was actually split up and tasked with new missions.

"We're trained to handle all warfighting assignments," said Lt. Chris Brinkac.

Of course, his best mission was arriving home to greet his family.

"I'm just glad to be home. It's what I've been waiting for," he added.

During the deployment, HS-3 along with the Roosevelt also made a historic port visit to Cape Town, South Africa in October 2008, marking the first visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the country of South Africa in over 40 years. While in port, the Tridents conducted an emergent at-anchor 80,000 pound vertical replenishment to aid in a cooperative engagement with the South African government.

HS-3 is comprised of 24 officers and 174 enlisted Sailors. The squadron flies four SH-60F and three HH-60H Seahawk helicopters.

Friday, April 24, 2009

HF-GCS Grand Forks is now on the air

I have receive a monitor report via email that the new Grand Forks HF-GCS was monitored yesterday working Akeela 61 and Shark 10 on 8992.0 and 11175.0 kHz using the callword "Dakota."

As first reported here on the Milcom Monitoring Post on November 21, 2008, (see Grand Forks has assumed the role of alternate control station in the Joint Chief's of Staff sponsored HF-GCS network.

You can read more about the HF-GCS network including new detailed frequencies and more in the April issue of Monitoring Times magazine in my monthly Milcom column.

Thanks Karl for passing that intercept along.

The HF-GCS antenna farm at Lajes AB, Azores (Photo courtesy of the USAF).

MCAS Beaufort has a new 380-400 MHz TRS

My old friend Mac, KF4LMT, has uncovered a new 380-400 MHz TRS at the Beaufort MCAS (Merritt Field) South Carolina.

MCAS Beaufort
System ID: 0032h

Site 0032h-0101 (Site probably on base)
386.1375 386.7250 386.5125 386.9625

Site 0032h-0102 (Site best heard south of the base)
380.4875 (No talkgroup activity noted)

Site 0032h-0103 (Site possibly at MCRD Parris Island)
385.3500 385.6250 386.2125

So far, the only talkgroup heard on the system has been PMO (MPs) on TG 38141.

Have you done a sweep of your 380-390 MHz band yet? If you live within ground range of a military base here in the states, you should do a search in the 380-390 MHz frequency range for trunk radio system communications and control channels. If you hear something please pass it along and I will work with you to flush out details on the system. Of course, those wishing to remain anonymous shall.

Thanks Mac.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Milair Frequency Changes - 4/23/2009

Time for some more aero frequency changes, updates and corrections. From the Milcom MP Quik-Stop . . .

46.9000 New Century Aircenter KS (KIXD) Operations (FM)
120.0250 Tehachapi Muni CA (KTSP) AWOS-3
121.0500 Cannon AFB NM (KCVS) Departure Control
125.5000 Cannon AFB NM (KCVS) Approach Control Basic Radar Service
127.0500 Seattle ARTCC (ZSE) Fort Lawton WA RCAG Low/High Altitude Discrete
134.1000 Fort Polk/Polk AAF LA (KPOE) Metro
134.9500 Seattle ARTCC (ZSE) Whidbey Island WA RCAG Low/High Altitude Discrete
266.8000 NAS Pensacola/Forrest Sherman Field FL (KNPA) ATIS, ex-267.6000
270.3000 Seattle ARTCC (ZSE) Whidbey Island WA RCAG Low/High Altitude Discrete
279.6500 Tucson International (KTUS) ATIS, ex-320.100
347.5000 New Century Aircenter KS (KIXD) Operations
353.9000 Seattle ARTCC (ZSE) Fort Lawton WA RCAG Low/High Altitude Discrete

Truman Sailors Engage In Demanding TSTA Drills

For my Florida friends the Truman is heading to you.

Here are some frequencies that have been heard recently. No guarantees that they will show up for this underway period but it is a start.

225.7250 226.2000 226.8250 232.6500 234.5000 234.9500 238.7000 252.3500 257.3750 259.4000 259.6000 261.4250 263.5250 267.5750 270.1250 272.0000 273.3500 278.1500 283.1500 283.6500 288.7250 289.6500 292.9000 294.9000 299.1750 322.7000 326.7500 327.8500 335.8750 337.3000 342.0250 354.5500 355.4500 367.2500 374.3000 384.1000

242.1250 VFA-11 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Riper c/s
245.3250 VFA-32 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Gypsy c/s
252.5250 VFA-37 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Ragin c/s
255.2250 VFA-37 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Ragin c/s
259.1750 VFA-105 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Canyon c/s
271.9000 Positive Identification and Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ)
275.5000 VFA-37 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Ragin c/s
277.8000 Fleet Common-Tactical/Warning
284.1500 Have Quick Time of Day (TOD)
343.5750 VFA-37 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3
361.0750 VFA-105 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3 Canyon c/s
367.6250 VAW-126 Sqdn A-A/CVW-3

Sailors perform fire drills on the flight deck onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Truman is performing carrier qualifications preparing for its upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ricardo J. Reyes/Released)

By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Troutman, Truman Public Affairs

USS Harry S. Truman (at sea) (NNS) -- The crew of USS Harry S. Truman has a new series of challenges to embrace during the ship's current underway period. The Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) is a mandatory evolution designed to focus on developing the ship's self-training capability through its integrated training teams.

Truman will spend three weeks at sea engaging in the TSTA evolution as it prepares for its upcoming 2009 deployment.

"Overall, TSTA is a measure of how well the crew integrates and fights the ship together," said Lt. Cmdr. Cheryl D'Andrea, Truman's Training Officer.

During the course of Truman's current underway, the ship's crew will conduct 14 General Quarters drills, said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Lyle, Truman's damage control assistant. An estimated 900 Sailors will man the ship's repair lockers, and the drills will be integrated with every training team having a role.

"General Quarters will be the big evolution that affects everybody," Lyle said. "It's an all-hands evolution, from the damage control petty officers signing yoke every day to the tactical actions officer countering inbound missiles."

Each department on board Truman will have their own training agendas out of the Carrier Training and Readiness Manual (CNAFINST 3500.20A).

Upon completing TSTA, the ship will be certified to move on to the next phase of training to ensure deployment readiness.

The Afloat Training Group (ATG), a team of 17 personnel, is aboard Truman this underway period to evaluate the training teams and, in turn, help them learn how to better train their repair locker personnel.

"ATG is here to train the trainers during a training evolution," D'Andrea said. "They're on board to help us, to train and to provide constructive criticism. They're also looking for our documentation to ensure we're documenting our training performance properly."

With a significant amount of Truman's Sailors new to both the ship and its at-sea training evolutions, D'Andrea stressed the importance of the ship's crew working as one team and maintaining a positive focus throughout the duration of the TSTA evolution.

"Basically, we're trying to get everyone into the mindset that we are in foreign waters, mimicking a real-life scenario where we are fighting the ship," she said. "If we don't have proper damage control, the ship won't stay afloat for any length of time, but when you have personnel who are motivated and participating, that's half the battle right there."

Master Chief Fire Controlman (SW/AW) Joseph O'Brien, Training Department's leading chief petty officer, said he's confident the ship's crew will know exactly what to do should an actual casualty situation arise.

"In the event a real-life scenario occurs, you'll see the training come together," O'Brien said. "We're being trained this way so in the reality of a casualty, we'll know exactly what we need to do. If we train like we fight, when an actual situation comes up, it will be like second nature to us."

O'Brien said that despite the long hours being put in at sea, there's a purpose to the arduous training environments Truman's Sailors will endure in the weeks ahead.

"The end result is, with this training, we will be better able to self-sustain any damage we incur during deployment, ensuring everybody comes back home safe," said O'Brien.

Coming home safely is, of course, the most important part of any underway period, and by putting forth all their effort in the upcoming TSTA evolutions, Truman Sailors can ensure their safety for future underways, as well.

108ARW Command Post Frequency Changes

NOTAM M0134/09 - New frequencies for 108 ANG command post, Primary 251.200 MHz, Alternate 321.000 MHz. 15 APR 11:00 2009 until 01 JUL 23:59 2009. Created: 14 APR
18:41 2009

This moves their CP freq from 286.700 MHz, another area of the 225-380 MHz spectrum that is being cleaned out for a new possible wideband signal subband.

Navy To Commission Guided Missile Destroyer Truxtun

The Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, Truxtun, will be commissioned Saturday, April 25, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony in Charleston, S.C.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Carol Leigh Roelker and Susan Scott Martin, descendants of the ship's namesake, will serve as sponsors of the ship. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when they give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Designated DDG 103, the destroyer honors Commodore Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822) who embarked upon a seafaring career at age 12. When the Navy was initially organized, he was selected as one of its first six captains on June 4, 1798. Assigned command of the USS Constellation, one of the nation's new frigates, Truxtun put to sea to prosecute the undeclared naval war with revolutionary France. On Feb. 9, 1799, Truxtun achieved one of his most famous victories when Constellation battered the French warship L'Insurgente into submission in one of the most illustrious battles of the quasi-war with France.

Five previous Navy ships have been named Truxtun: a brig launched in 1842, two destroyers DD 14 and DD 229, a high speed transport APD 98 (initially designated a destroyer escort DE 282), and a nuclear-powered frigate (DLGN) later re-designated cruiser CGN 35.

The 53rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Truxtun will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Truxtun will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Timothy Weber, a native of Decatur, Ga., will become the first commanding officer and lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Truxtun was built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Ingalls Operations, Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is 510 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

U.S. 7th Fleet to Conduct Exercise Malabar 09 with Japan, Indian navies

Ships, aircraft and submarines from the United States, Japan and India will take part in Exercise Malabar 09 off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, April 26 to May 3.

The Malabar exercise series has historically been a bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Indian navies. This year the Indian Navy also invited the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force to participate.

Exercise Malabar 09 is designed to increase interoperability among the Indian, Japanese and U.S. maritime forces to develop a common understanding and procedures for maritime operations.

"We look forward to this opportunity to work with the very professional maritime forces of India and Japan," said Vice Adm. John Bird, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. "Malabar gives us the chance to build greater interoperability with two of our most important regional partners."

The at-sea training will include anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare maneuvers; gunnery training; air defense; and visit, board, search and seizure. The participants will also conduct personnel exchanges and professional discussions at sea and ashore.

The United States will be represented by 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Chafee (DDG 90) and fast- attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21), along with various P-3C and SH-60 aircraft.

Operating in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, covering 48 million square miles and with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any time.

Phoenix Express Kicks Off in Souda Bay

Maritime and land forces from 14 countries kicked off Exercise Phoenix Express (PE09) in Souda Bay, Greece April 22.

PE09, a two-week long exercise designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships, is part of the overall U.S. Africa Command and Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe – Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa - Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet theater security cooperation (TSC) strategy to enhance regional stability in the region through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies from the United States, Africa, and Europe.

"Phoenix Express demonstrates U.S. and partner nation commitment to regional stability and maritime security," said U.S. Navy Capt. Red Smith, Commander, Task Force 68. "During this exercise, Sailors will get underway and become familiar with the other navies' operating procedures and practices. When they meet in the future to conduct combined peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, or to counter trafficking in drugs, weapons, or persons in this region, they will be better able to work together."

U.S. units participating in the exercise include members of the U.S. 6th Fleet staff, the 6th Fleet Command ship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and USS Robert G. Bradley, homeported in Mayport, Fla.

"Phoenix Express offers a phenomenal opportunity to hone fundamental naval skills and improve the interoperability in the interest of maritime safety and security," said Robert G. Bradley Commanding Officer Cmdr. Clinton A. Carroll.

Participating countries include Algeria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia and the United States.

Singapore Navy Joins Counterpiracy CTF 151

From Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian K. Fromal,Combined Task Force 151 Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- A Singaporean counterpiracy task group joined Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 this week and began conducting operations alongside other Coalition naval forces off the coast of Somalia.

Commanded by Navy Col. Bernard Miranda, the Singaporean task group includes the Landing Ship Tank (LST), RSS Persistence (209), and joins other naval forces currently conducting counterpiracy operations as part of CTF 151.

"Extensive international coordination is the key to maximizing the maritime counterpiracy mission," said Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, commander, CTF 151. "Having Singapore sailing alongside us will strengthen our ability to deter piracy and make the waterways safer for everyone."

The Singapore Navy has operated as part of the Combined Maritime Forces since 2004 and is a longstanding partner and vital coalition member. They have provided support to CTF 158 in the North Arabian Gulf.

Prior to joining CTF-151, Persistence's staff visited the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) to discuss counterpiracy operations.

"We were honored to welcome the crew of Persistence aboard Gettysburg," said Capt. Rich Brown, Gettysburg's commanding officer. "We were excited to pass on our counter-piracy experience and to have them join the CTF 151 team. Persistence is an exceptionally well suited platform for the counterpiracy mission, and we look forward to building on an already strong professional relationship."

CTF 151 is a multinational task force conducting counterpiracy operations to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. The task force was established to create a lawful maritime order and conduct Maritime Security Operations.

Rodney M. Davis Seizes, Disrupts Tons of Narcotics, Returns to Homeport

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Quinn Liford, Naval Station Everett Public Affairs

USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) returned to the ship's homeport at Naval Station Everett April 21 following a six-month deployment in the East Pacific in support of counter narco-terrorism.

The ship and crew were welcomed home to the Pacific Northwest with cheers and tears from loved ones awaiting their arrival on the pier.

"This is our first homecoming together," said Kerra Rausch, wife of Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW/AW) Jason Rausch. "I really couldn't be more excited right now, this is just amazing. At our last homecoming meeting the drawing for first kiss came up and I almost couldn't believe it, I never win anything!"

The Davis and crew completed their mission, seizing six tons of cocaine and 160 pounds of marijuana, as well as disrupting 18 tons of cocaine and three tons of marijuana shipments. Although this type of deployment may seem different from the ship's primary mission, it is actually a common one within the frigate community.

Global reach from frigates completing this type of mission has proven to have positive effects for multinational relationships as well as national defense by slowing the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.

According to Ensign Tamara Szymanski, one of the most significant accomplishments of the ship and crew was the interdiction of two self-propelled semi-submersible vessels and two fishing vessels, each loaded with contraband.

Crew members also made great strides with community involvement in several of the ports they visited. The crew visited Casita de Mausi, Aldeas Infantiles SOS, as well as Escuela de los Estados Unidos, all in Panama.

"We have made every effort to do community relations projects, in conjunction with Project Handclasp, every time we pull into port," said Szymanski. "The house mothers cooked us all lunch and we got to spend time with the kids," she said of the orphanage visits.

From painting a school in Puerta Vallarta to orphanage visits to distribute basic hygiene products in Peru, the crew members of Rodney M. Davis set out to make improvements wherever they could.

The ship is an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate and is named after U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rodney M. Davis. The ship's namesake was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Vietnam War. Commissioned May 9, 1987, Rodney M. Davis has been home ported in Everett since 2005.

China Launches Clandestine Military Recon Satellite

New Launch: 2009 April 22, 0255 UTC
Site: Taiyuan Space Center, PRC
Launcher: Long March 2C (Chang Zheng 2C)
International Designator(s): 2009-021A/SCC: 34839

China sent into orbit a clandestine remote sensing satellite Wednesday during a launch that was announced less than a day in advance.

A Long March 2C rocket blasted off at 0255 GMT Wednesday from the Taiyuan space base in northern China's Shanxi province. The two-stage booster, propelled by a noxious mix of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, deftly guided the secret Yaogan 6 satellite into orbit, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Tracking data indicate the rocket achieved a sun-synchronous orbit with an average altitude of about 300 miles [480 km].

China will use Yaogan 6 for land resource surveys, environmental surveillance, urban planning, crop yield estimates, disaster response, and space science experiments, Xinhua reported.

But Western analysts believe the spacecraft is actually a military reconnaissance satellite, possibly outfitted with a night-vision, cloud-piercing radar that can observe objects on the ground during darkness and all weather conditions.

The Yaogan series is likely a cover for a fleet of spy satellites carrying radars and digital optical observation equipment.

Yaogan satellites have been launched from Taiyuan and the Jiuquan space center.

Source: Spaceflight Now, Observation satellite launched into orbit by China and AGIs Launch Notification Service.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

F-22 Raptors to Hawaii

The Hawaii Air National Guard is getting 20 F-22 Raptors, prompting Hickam Air Force Base to undergo improvements costing more than 145 million dollars.

USS San Francisco Returns to Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Michael Story, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS San Francisco (SSN 711) sailed into San Diego harbor April 17, where it arrived at its new homeport at Naval Submarine Base Point Loma.

This journey comes after a three-year restoration period at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS and IMF) in Washington state.

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine collided with an uncharted undersea mountain Jan. 8, 2005, and was placed in the dry dock facility for repairs after a 5,600-nautical mile open ocean transit from Apra Harbor, Guam to PSNS and IMF.

After leaving the dry dock facility April 7, the submarine successfully completed sea trials and began her transit toward San Diego.

"Sea trials went well and the San Francisco is in great material condition. We put her through a rigorous, comprehensive set of tests and she performed superbly," said San Francisco Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Nathan Martin.

The change of station to San Diego is a result of the Navy's plan to maintain 60 percent of the submarine force in the U.S. Pacific Fleet, as outlined in the 2006 Quadrennial Review.

"It's been a lot of hard work up in Washington, but I'm really glad that we're down here [in San Diego]," said Lt. Paul Carnan, San Francisco's quality assurance and electrical assistant officer. "A lot of other guys on the boat put a lot of effort forward and I think it shows. We had successful sea trials and we're all really glad to be down here and to be operational now."

"The crew had done an outstanding job of preparing themselves, their families, and the ship for San Francisco's return to service and change of homeport," Martin said. "They worked very hard to make this process and the ship successful. Their dedication and determination have been awe-inspiring. I couldn't be more optimistic about the future of San Francisco and her exceptional crew."

This submarine is the third U.S. Navy ship to carry the name San Francisco.

Commissioned April 24, 1981, San Francisco is crewed by approximately 12 officers and 115 enlisted personnel.

USS Stockdale Commissioned in Port Hueneme

By Jeana Diacono, Naval Base Ventura County Public Affairs

Video report at this URL

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- USS Stockdale (DDG 106) was commissioned at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Port Hueneme before a crowd of 3,000 military and civilian dignitaries April 18.

USS Stockdale is the first ship to be named in honor of the late Adm. James B. Stockdale. He is known as one of the Navy's greatest heroes and most decorated officers. He earned the Medal of Honor after spending 7 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was also awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal and the POW Medal.

He became the highest ranked naval officer to be held as a POW when he was shot down over enemy territory. While imprisoned, he was often tortured and beaten. At one time during his imprisonment, in order to prevent his captives from using him as propaganda, Stockdale slit his scalp and beat himself with a chair. He also slit his wrists to show that he preferred death to submission.

While her husband was imprisoned, his wife Sybil Stockdale, along with her organization the League of Families, took action to make sure the president and the U.S. Congress acknowledged the mistreatment of the POWs. With her help, 7 1/2 years after his capture, Stockdale was released.

"James Stockdale is a true American hero," Ross Perot, one of the ceremony's guest speakers, said. "Admiral Stockdale's life can be defined by these words: patriot, guardian of our freedom, combat fighter, scholar, hero, fearless, brilliant, modest, an outstanding leader, a man of excellent integrity, outstanding husband and father and a role model for our nation."

Jeffrey Geiger, president of Bath Iron Works, represented the 5,600 men and women that helped build the ship. He directed his remarks to the ship's crew..

"We have given you a great ship to compliment a great captain and a great crew," Geiger said. "Go forward with confidence and write a fascinating tale for USS Stockdale."

Wilmot N. Summerall, executive director for surface combatants, PEO ships spoke next, followed by Rear Adm. Victor Guillory, director, Surface Warfare Division. He says Stockdale is designed and built to lean into the fight and win.

"To the crew of the USS Stockdale, well done for your teamwork and months of preparation," Guillory said. "I wish you, your crew and your families God speed and fare winds as you bring this ship to life."

Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, Commander Naval Surface Forces/Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Allison Stiller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ship Programs, spoke next. They spoke warmly about the commanding officer of the ship, Cmdr. Fred W. Kacher.

"He has served as an operations officer, strike warfare officer, tactical action officer and executive officer. Kacher also won the 2005 Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Award for visionary leadership," Curtis said.

The principal speaker, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, said partnership, readiness and presence are important qualities in the Navy.

"To those of you that will soon man USS Stockdale, you will demonstrate partnership, you will exhibit readiness and you will most assuredly be present," Keating said. "I guarantee you are going to be busy."

When Keating finished, it was time for the historic moment. Cmdr. Kacher read his orders and the first watch was set. Mrs. Sybil Stockdale and her granddaughter, Elizabeth Eiseman-Stockdale, were then asked to issue the traditional order—to commission the ship.

"Officers and crew of USS Stockdale, man our ship and bring her to life!" Eiseman-Stockdale said.

To the strains of "Anchors Aweigh" the crew of Sailors ran up the center aisles and onto the ship to man the rails.

A loud roar filled the air. Sirens blared, smoke billowed out from the ship and guns fired. Four F-18s from VFA 137, Naval Air Station Lemoore, seemed to materialize from the smoke, roaring ahead as they flew over the crowd. The crowd cheered as the ship was officially commissioned.

The 509-foot guided missile destroyer has a crew of 34 officers and 254 Sailors. Stockdale weighs 9,200 tons when fully loaded, has a 66 foot beam and can reach a maximum speed of 30 plus knots. The ship's motto is "Return with Honor."

Stockdale carries two SH-60B Light Airborne Multipurpose System LAMPS MK III helicopters with Penguin/Hellfire missiles and MK 46/MK 50 torpedoes. The ship also carries 96 Cell MK 41 Vertical Launching System Small boats and two MK 6 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats.

The ship's homeport is San Diego.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UNITAS Gold Marks 50 Years of International Maritime Cooperation

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

The Navy's longest-running annual multilateral exercise got underway yesterday off the Florida coast, with 11 participating nations working together to promote maritime security and stability in Latin America.

Navy Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. Southern Command, called the 50th UNITAS Gold exercise a milestone for naval cooperation in the Western Hemisphere.

Initially launched to strengthen participants' capability to defend the Americas against Soviet submarines, the exercise changed over time to address evolving security challenges, Stavridis noted.

"Yet, the core purpose has remained constant: the desire to build mutually beneficial partnerships among the navies of the Western Hemisphere," he said.

Stavridis said he's operated as part of UNITAS numerous times during his Navy career. "What I have learned, through partnership and friendship, about our friends in the Americas has been invaluable to me," he said.

This year's UNITAS Gold, hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet, includes the militaries of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

The U.S. Navy's amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde, guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook and guided missile frigates USS Doyle and USS Kaufman are among the 25 participating ships, along with four submarines, more than 50 aircraft, 650 Marines and 6,500 sailors.

The scenario-driven training will feature live-fire exercises, undersea warfare, shipboard operations, maritime interdiction operations, anti-air and anti-surface warfare, amphibious operations, electronic warfare and special warfare, officials said.

"As we move forward together, I am confident the future opportunities to work with our partners will not only strengthen our ability to operate together for our nations' security, but will also build personal and professional respect and friendships," said Navy Adm. Joseph Kernan, commander of NAVSO and U.S. 4th Fleet.

The Great Brazilian Sat-Hack Crackdown

Brazilian satellite hackers use high-performance antennas and homebrew gear to turn U.S. Navy satellites into their personal CB radios. Photo: Divulgação/Polícia Federal

There is a followup to a story I first broke on this blog on March 19, Wired has a nice story on their site with the picture above, which is one of the Brazilian pirate milsatcom ground station antennas.

Here is a link to the Wired article

Thanks to Chris Parris, MT Federal File columnist for passing along the info above. For more good stuff from Chris be sure to visit his blog online at

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sea Launch Deploys Military Spacecraft for Italy

SICRAL 1B, an Italian military communications satellite that will be shared with NATO and allied countries went into orbit this morning atop an international rocket launched from a platform floating in the Pacific Ocean. More details at

And from Jonathan's Space Report at

Italy's second military communications satellite, SICRAL 1B, was launched on Apr 20 by a Boeing-Sea Launch Zenit-3SL from the floating Odyssey launch platform in the equatorial Pacific. The satellite was built at Thales Alenia/Torino. The SICRAL (Sistema Italiano per Comunicazioni Riservate ed Allarmi, Italian System for Classified Communications and Alarms) 1B satellite supplements SICRAL 1A launched in 2001 Feb on an Ariane 4.

SICRAL 1B is an improved Thales Alenia Italsat-3000 design; the satellite is 7.8m high and the solar panels span 24.4m. Mass is 3038 kg full, 1680 kg dry. (thanks to Guiseppina Piccirilli of Thales Alenia (I) for details).

The Torino (Turin) plant of Thales Alenia built the ELDO STV satellites in the 1960s, when it was part of FIAT. In 1969 it became part of Aeritalia, in 1990 part of Alenia Spazio, in 2005 part of Alcatel Alenia Space, and in 2007 Thales Alenia.

The Zenit-3SL's lower two stages put the Blok DM-SL upper stage in a -1949 x 233 km x 0.0 deg trajectory; the two DM burns went to an elliptical 200 x 14108 km x 0.0 deg intermediate orbit and then an 8528 x 35596 km x 0.0 high-perigee geostationary transfer orbit. Three debris objects have been cataloged in the transfer orbit - this is unusual for Zenit-3SL launches.

Indian Rocket Launches Israeli-Built Spy Satellite

India launched a closely-guarded Israeli-built radar spy satellite today to begin gathering valuable intelligence data from a 342-mile-high perch above the planet, regardless of lighting and weather conditions. More on this story at

And from Jonathan's Space Report at

India's PSLV-C12 launch put the RISAT-2 satellite in orbit on Apr 20. RISAT-2 is a Tecsar-class radar imaging satellite that India bought from Israel to make up for delays in the Indian-built RISAT-1.

The PSLV took off at 0115 UTC from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sriharikota Island north of Chennai, and the first three stages placed the PS4 fourth stage with its payloads on a suborbital trajectory of about -1000 x 560 km x 20 deg. After a few minutes coast, the package reached apogee at 0130 UTC over the equator at 116 deg E, and the PS4 yawed to burn the vehicle into a 455 x 557 km x 41.1 deg orbit. The third stage reentered over the ocean east of Australia at around 0146 UTC.

RISAT-1 separated from the PS4 at 0132 UTC, and two minutes later Anusat, a small 40 kg imaging satellite from Anna University in Chennai, was also ejected from the stage.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Next-Generation Navy Destroyer Set for Construction in Maine

By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service

A recent agreement among the Defense Department, the Navy and shipbuilders will enable more efficient construction of the next-generation destroyer at one shipyard instead of two, a senior Defense Department official announced here today.

The "swap" agreement calls for three DDG-1000 destroyers to be built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, John J. Young Jr., undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Work on the DDG-1000 destroyers previously was to be split between General Dynamics' Bath Works and Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi, Young said. As part of the new agreement, the Ingalls shipyard, which also builds some other Navy vessels, will gain a contract to build two more DDG-51 guided-missile destroyers.

The swap agreement, Young said, is the result of months of negotiations and is a reflection of "unprecedented efforts by the Navy and industry partners to operate in a business-like manner." The agreement, he added, involved compromises by all parties "to enable efficient construction of naval vessels."

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class vessel is a high-tech, guided-missile destroyer envisioned to eventually replace the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class of warships that were developed 30 years ago. Navy Adm. Arleigh Burke was a famous destroyer commander in the South Pacific during World War II.

Named for Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations in the early 1970s and died in January 2000, the DDG-1000 ships feature computer-aided design, modular construction, high-tech armaments and radar, as well as a unique, streamlined hull design.

The DDG-1000's complicated, high-tech content, Young said, makes its design and construction an admittedly expensive endeavor. Cost of a first prototype, or lead, DDG-1000 ship is estimated to be around $3.2 billion, he said, with prices of follow-on vessels likely to decrease due to industrial economies of scale.

The design and development of the DDG-1000 "has gone well," Young said, noting that the program has "gone to budget [and] gone on schedule."

Initial plans were to build 32 of the DDG-1000-series vessels at the Bath and Ingalls shipyards. Today, the Defense Department's proposed fiscal 2010 budget calls for building just three vessels.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today told members of the Naval War College in Newport R.I., that the United States will require a naval presence in the future.

"But we cannot allow more ships to go the way of the DDG-1000," Gates told the Naval War College audience. The DDG-1000's rising cost per ship, he noted, was among the reasons for buying reduced numbers.

Gates has recommended building more Arleigh Burke-class vessels and upgrading those now in the fleet. Sixty-four Arleigh Burkes have been built, not counting the two new ones slated for construction at the Ingalls shipyard.

Gates also deemed the arrangement for constructing DDG-1000s at the two shipyards as inefficient and too costly to taxpayers, Young said.

"I think it was important to him that we build these ships efficiently," Young said of his understanding of Gates' reasoning.

If the DDG-1000s couldn't be efficiently produced, Gates "was potentially prepared, even in the face of clear political danger, to go back and possibly cancel two ships, and that would have cut jobs in both shipyards," Young said.

Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Makin Island

Makin Island (LHD 8) departs the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Gulf Coast shipyard for five days of Builder's Trials to tests a wide variety of systems and equipment. More than 100 Makin Island Sailors were embarked to observe and monitor the testing conducted be Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding personnel. Makin Island, scheduled for commissioning Oct. 24, 2009 in San Diego, will be the Navy's eighth and final Wasp Class amphibious assault ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alec Noe/Released)

The Navy officially accepted delivery of the amphibious assault ship Makin Island (LHD 8) on April 16 from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) in Pascagoula, Miss.

"Our partners at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding have worked hard to deliver this ship," said Capt. Jeff Riedel, amphibious ships program manager within the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships. "Makin Island's state-of-the-art gas turbines and Auxiliary Propulsion System will benefit the Navy for years to come."

Makin Island will be the eighth Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Second only to aircraft carriers in size, LHDs are the largest amphibious warships in the world.

Makin Island is distinguished from its predecessors in the class by its fuel-efficient hybrid electric drive. This powerful class is 844 feet long, can reach speeds of more than 20 knots, and has a displacement of more than 41,000 tons. Wasp-class amphibious assault ships are specifically designed to remain off shore near troubled areas of the world, ready to send forces ashore quickly by helicopters, tilt rotor aircraft and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft.

"With concerns over shrinking budgets, we're delivering APS at the perfect time," said Riedel. "Our estimates show that APS will save the Navy more than $21 million in fuel costs over the ship's lifecycle."

This unique auxiliary propulsion system (APS) is designed with fuel efficiency in mind. Instead of using main propulsion engines to power the ship's shaft, the APS uses two induction-type auxiliary propulsion motors powered from the ship's electrical grid. The ship will be able to use its APS approximately 75% of the time, replacing the less-efficient gas turbines.

Other significant changes from previous LHD-class ships include watermist fire suppression systems, a fiber-optic Machinery Control System -- which is also integrated with the damage control systems -- the SPQ-9B radar and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC).

As the centerpiece of a Navy expeditionary strike group, LHDs are fully capable of conducting and supporting amphibious assaults, advance force and special purpose operations, non-combatant evacuation, and other humanitarian missions. LHDs, along with the other ships of an Amphibious Ready Group, embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support a Marine Expeditionary Unit of 2,000 Marines with their gear.

Prior to delivery, the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) completed Acceptance Trials aboard Makin Island on March 19 after spending three days at sea. INSURV found the ship to be "capable, well-built and inspection-ready" and recommended that the chief of Naval Operations authorize delivery of the ship. All major systems and equipment were tested by INSURV.

The commissioning ceremony for Makin Island will be held in October in the ship's future homeport of San Diego.

The Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships, and is currently managing the design and construction of 11 major ship classes and a wide range of small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. Since its creation in November 2002, PEO Ships has delivered 28 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 20 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

Navy to Commission New Guided Missile Destroyer Stockdale

The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Stockdale, during an 11:00 a.m. PST ceremony on Saturday, April 18, 2009, in Port Hueneme, Calif.

Designated DDG 106, the new destroyer honors Medal of Honor recipient Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale (1923-2005), the legendary leader of American prisoners of war (POWs) during the Vietnam War.

Stockdale was the highest-ranking naval officer ever held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. His plane was shot down Sept. 9, 1965, while flying combat missions over North Vietnam. Stockdale spent more than seven years in captivity at prisons in North Vietnam, including time at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton." Four of those years were spent in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, Stockdale is credited with organizing a set of rules to govern the behavior of fellow prisoners of war and for helping to develop a code for prisoners to communicate with each other that included tapping on cell walls. In recognition of his leadership and sacrifice he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976.

Stockdale received 26 combat medals and awards, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Stars. He was also named to the Aircraft Carrier Hall of Fame, National Aviation Hall of Fame, and was an honorary member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Timothy Keating, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Sybil Stockdale will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her late husband. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gives the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Stockdale is the 56th of 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The ship will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Stockdale will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," the new maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Fred W. Kacher, of Oakton, Va., will become the first commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Stockdale was built by Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics Company. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

DOD's eye in the sky supporting troops on the ground

by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs

For the troops on the ground in hot zones all around the world, there are many items they rely on that are vital in their day-to-day operations: their weapons, their wingmen, their body armor. But what about their space assets?

The Defense Department's space assets don't always come to mind as key items in the daily operations of the commander on the ground in operational areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. And perhaps no other unit has as much of a direct affect on those operations than the Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, here.

The JSpOC is a busy mix of U.S. servicemembers from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines; foreign servicemembers from Australia, Great Britain and Canada; and a select group of civilian counterparts, who provide a focal point for the operational employment of worldwide joint space forces. These are the people who enable the commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space to integrate space power into global military operations.

"We provide operational command and control for the space forces that are assigned to the Joint Functional Component Command for Space in (U.S. Strategic Command)," said Col. Richard Boltz, the JSpOC director. "We provide the overall guidance, direction and execution of the space mission through the Joint Space Operations Center."

And while many of those requests come from STRATCOM, many actually come directly from commanders in the field.

"We obviously receive tasks directly from STRATCOM," Colonel Boltz said. "However, we have relationships set up with directors of space forces in each one of the combatant commands, and, often times, the request for space support within a theater will typically come from (a lieutenant colonel) or (a colonel) out in the field directly to the JSpOC asking for a specific service. We'll answer the request however it may happen to come to us."

"I work with the different geographic commanders and their space liaisons and make sure that they receive whatever they need in regards to space," said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Drayer, a space operations duty officer. "We will take what we do and tinker it to fit the need that the commander may have for any particular mission. Whether it's GPS or communications satellites, instead of just making sure it's up and running, we try to maximize the potential of those assets."

One of the most common requests to the JSpOC has to do with GPS. Most people think they can simply turn on their GPS unit and everything will be fine. However, GPS systems are sensitive to things like the number of GPS satellites in view. And, while many people wouldn't notice or could simply wait out a problem, the military GPS units are much more relied on and need to be extremely accurate when called upon.

"There are aircraft out there with older GPS navigation units on them and they will have specific GPS needs like how many satellites are in view," Sergeant Drayer said. "We will do a prediction for them saying, 'If you are flying this route with this aircraft, at these waypoints, your GPS navigation system will operate properly.' This way the pilots know whether or not they can use their GPS as a navigation tool or not."

When not working directly with the warfighter, JSpOC operators also work 24-hours per day monitoring the more than 19,000 pieces of space debris currently orbiting the planet. This particular mission led to their direct involvement in one of the most high-profile operations they have been a part of to date: Operation Burnt Frost. This nationally publicized event thrust the JspOC to center stage of the national media.

In this operation, a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite had lost power and began making its gradual decent out of orbit. While many items fall out of orbit and make the rapid decent back toward earth, most of those items never make it all the way to the ground. This particular, rather large satellite, however, would not burn up completely in the atmosphere, and due to the fact that it failed shortly after launch, it had a nearly full tank of hydrazine, a particularly hazardous material used as a fuel source on the satellite.

For this mission, the JSpOC operators provided command and control for the global network of sensors known as the Space Surveillance Network to track the satellite's movements. They also assessed the solar environment's effects on the Earth's atmosphere, which impacts how a satellite's orbit decays. All of the information gathered was then shared with each agency involved in the operation.

"The Aegis missile system didn't have radar track of the satellite when it launched its missile," Colonel Boltz said. "It was launching to a specific point in space where the satellite was predicted to be at a specific time. Our sensors had been tracking that satellite and our operators were the ones who provided that point in space to shoot at. They provided the target quality positional data of where that satellite was expected to be, which enabled the Navy to shoot, in the blind essentially, to that specific point."

And while the JSpOC team played an integral role in the destruction of the wayward satellite, the job didn't stop there. The destruction added approximately 150 more pieces of space debris to the more than 19,000 already tracked.

The JSpOC has come a long way since its activation in May of 2005. And the unit will continue to strive for success in its support of all space-related DOD functions while still growing into its full potential in the coming years.

"Anything that we can provide to help out the troops in a war zone, that's what we're here for," Sergeant Drayer said. "I personally take pride in what I do while I'm doing what I can to support the guys out there living in the dirt, roughin' it. The guys trying to talk on the radio having problems because at certain times of the day the atmosphere messes with their radio communications, that's the important stuff. Those guys need to be able to count on their communications and GPS. They expect it to be there. They don't get up in the morning and say, 'I hope it's working today.' It's important for us to do what we can to ensure they have what they need."