Friday, April 30, 2010

Blue Angels Announce New Commanding Officer

NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels, announced the Commanding Officer for the 2011 and 2012 teams.

A panel of admirals and former Blue Angels selected Cmdr. David E. Koss to join the team in September. He is the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14, the "Tophatters," where he also served as executive officer. Commander Koss' previous assignments include VFA-122, air and maritime planner to Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ) in Camp Smith, Hawaii, VFA-87 and VFA-106.

Koss has over 3,000 flight hours and 740 arrested landings. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Medal with Combat V, four Air Medals (Strike Flight), Joint Achievement Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, LT Charles Nelson and LCDR Mike Longardt leadership awards, as well as various campaign and unit awards.

Joint F-35 electronic warfare squadron stands up

by Ashley M. Wright, 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The squadron serving as the sole Department of Defense provider of electronic warfare support for the F-35 joint strike fighter activated April 23 in a ceremony here.

Surrounded by artifacts from the history of airpower in the Air Armament Museum, the 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron stood up as a first step toward preparing Airmen, Sailors and Marines with the latest electronic warfare data for all three variants on the 5th generation aircraft.

"We are not supporting only one variant of the F-35, we are supporting all," said Col. Kevin J. McElroy, the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group commander. "One team, one fight, one guidon."

The squadron, currently manned by 32 technicians and engineers, will grow to 130 members at full strength. Squadron members will operate the $300 million United States Reprogramming Laboratory, that tests all aspects of the joint strike fighter's electronic warfare capability. Half of the staff will be Airmen, while the other half will consist of Navy and Marine members.

Electronic warfare is "any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy," as described in Air Force Doctrine Document 2-5.1. Mission data is the descriptions the aircraft needs to identify both enemies and allies on the battlefield.

The laboratory is still under construction with a projected completion date of summer 2010 and hardware will arrive a year from now, the colonel said. Until that time, the squadron is performing a plethora of tasks as they become the "one-stop organic shop" for F-35 data.

"Our engineers are currently developing threat models and 5th generation mission data for the F-35," said Lt. Col. Tim Welde, the 513th EWS commander. "Our technicians are undergoing maintenance training as well as prepping the lab with power supplies, network connectivity and data storage devices. Next year, when the F-35 hardware is integrated and the lab is fully operational, the squadron will be able to successfully develop, test and deliver the critical mission data for JSF warfighters."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peleliu Wraps Up CERTEX

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kenneth W. Hunter, Peleliu Public Affairs

USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- The Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group (PEL ARG) completed its final pre-deployment work-up April 26 in preparation for its regularly-scheduled 2010 Western Pacific Deployment (WESTPAC).

PEL ARG, consisting of amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), amphibious transport dock ship USS Dubuque (LPD 8), amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), is led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3 (PHIBRON) Capt. Dale G. Fuller. PEL ARG and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) together completed the Certification Exercise (CERTEX), a comprehensive, complex training evolution that combined the Navy and Marine Corps' maritime and sea-to-shore capabilities.

Peleliu's mission with the MEU includes providing a response force capable of conducting amphibious operations on land, air, and sea.

"It's mostly a Marine exercise, but the ship plays a very important role in the exercise to make sure our Marine brothers can do their job ashore and at sea effectively," said Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist (SW/AW) Joseph Williams of operations department. "The exercise focuses on operations against waterborne targets, amphibious raids ashore, and humanitarian assistance operations. This exercise is to certify that the MEU can qualify to conduct an array of missions."

According to Maj. Kevin Duffy, operations officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (Reinforced) 165, there were a number of evolutions that the PEL ARG and MEU had to complete prior to the ten-day CERTEX.

"The last two underway periods were PHIBRON / MEU Integration and Composite Unit Training Exercise and various other ground-based evolutions that led up to CERTEX," said Duffy. "I think it went very well, and we are ready for WESTPAC and anything else that we have to do."

While similar to prior pre-deployment exercises, CERTEX is designed to strengthen the blue-green team's ability to operate together, and respond to various situations while deployed.

"Every member of the MEU/ARG team is a key player," said Duffy. "From junior Sailors and Marines, to the top of the chain of command; they have an important part to play."

USS Hopper Returns from Seven-Month Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 250 Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) April 23, to a crowded pier of family and friends following a scheduled seven-month deployment.

Hopper departed JBPHH Sep. 14, 2009, for an independent deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibilities (AOR).

Lt. Cmdr. Al Lopez, Hopper's executive officer, noted the great teamwork that the crew displayed throughout the deployment.

"Hopper's success during this last deployment belongs completely to the Sailors," said Lopez. "In all that they were called to do, the crew approached their missions with a professionalism and competence that cannot help but make America proud."

While on deployment, Hopper conducted baseline operations for Coalition Task Force (CTF) 152, including maritime patrols, bridge queries and visit, board, search and seizure approach operations while in the 5th Fleet AOR.

Hopper Sailors also volunteered their time during several community relations projects while in the 7th Fleet AOR.

"Overall, we had a very successful deployment as Hopper supported the mission of the Navy and the United States," said Hopper Command Master Chief Jay Stuckey. "Hopper's performance was nothing short of outstanding."

Friends and families of Hopper Sailors were enthused to see the crew return home.

Guided-missile destroyers provide multimission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups.

USS Louisville Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge, Commander Submarine Force Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled six-month deployment to the western Pacific region to complete several missions in support of national defense April 26.

"The submarine is in excellent material condition and the crew has done an outstanding job in completing all of the required maintenance to get us certified to deploy," said Cmdr. Lee Sisco, USS Louisville Commanding Officer. "We are all looking forward to getting underway and doing a lot of the missions and operations that we train for. I am very proud of each and every one of the crew."

USS Louisville is the fourth United States ship to bear the name in honor of the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

AP source: US Navy has encounter with Iranian jet

According to an AP report, a US Navy jet from the Ike had a close encounter with an Iranian maritime patrol aircraft.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A U.S. military official says the Navy had a close encounter with an Iranian surveillance jet last week in the Gulf of Oman.

The official says the jet buzzed a Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Eisenhower, coming within about 1,000 yards of the ship. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the April 21 incident occurred in international waters.

The jet was described as a maritime patrol aircraft generally used for surveillance.

Monday, April 26, 2010

F-16 drawdown begins at Spangdahlem

by Senior Airman Kali L. Gradishar, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Six F-16 Fighting Falcons are scheduled to depart here April 27 as the first step for the 52nd Fighter Wing staff in the Combat Air Force Restructuring plan expected to save the Air Force approximately $355 million in fiscal 2010 and $3.5 billion during the next five fiscal years.

An additional six aircraft are scheduled to depart the base April 30.

"The Combat Air Force Restructuring plan is an initiative to retire approximately 250 legacy fighters across the Air Force so we can use the savings from those retirements to reinvest; to build a capabilities-based bridge to our fifth generation fighter fleet," said Lt. Col. Aaron Piepkorn, the Spangdahlem Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century director and CAF Restructure project officer. "Basically, it takes the money and reinvests it back into fighters, bombers, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, so they can upgrade their capabilities creating a smaller, more capable, more flexible, more lethal fighter force."

The CAF restructuring plan is intended to create a wave of savings in costs and manpower positions Air Force-wide.

The six aircraft are the first of 21 that are scheduled to depart the base. The remainder of the aircraft will depart in increments scheduled to be complete by the end of May as part of CAF restructuring. Twenty aircraft will transition to the 148th Fighter Wing with the Minnesota Air National Guard, while one F-16 will transfer to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The newer Block 50 F-16s departing Spangdahlem AB will replace older aircraft at these installations.

"The airplanes that are leaving here are not retiring; they're replacing older airplanes that will retire," Colonel Piepkorn said. "So while 250 airplanes will retire in fiscal year 2010, the aircraft were losing from Spangdahlem will not retire because they're some of the newer F-16 Block 50s the Air Force has."

Additional plans include the joining of the two F-16 squadrons.

As a result of the drawdown of F-16s, the 22nd and 23rd Fighter Squadrons will transition to a single, slightly larger squadron.

One proposal is to inactivate both the 22nd and 23rd Fighter squadrons and rename the single squadron in accordance with historical precedence, Colonel Piepkorn said.

To ensure the CAF restructuring initiative runs smoothly, a number of agencies on base have been working together to plan for the drawdown of aircraft and manning positions.

The staff at U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the Air Staff have been very involved, Colonel Piepkorn said. "And here on base, it's been a variety of units to include the operations and maintenance groups getting the planes ready, as well as the manpower folks at the (52nd Force Support Squadron)."

Along with the reduction of aircraft, "approximately 500 manpower positions will be affected with military members either moving to another available position in the 52nd FW or relocating to another base. No U.S. or local national civilian positions will be reduced," said Capt. Erin Pinkston, the manpower and personnel flight commander.

Military members will depart when they were originally scheduled to, but there will be a reduced number of in-bound Airmen coming into the affected units during the next few years. This will enable the wing to meet the requirement to reduce manpower by approximately 500 positions, Captain Pinkston said.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Navy Names Amphibious Ship for Congressman John Murtha

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced April 23 the selection of the USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) as the name of the 10th San Antonio class Amphibious Transport Dock ship. Mabus made the announcement at John P. Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County airport in Johnstown, Pa.

The USS John P. Murtha honors the late U.S. representative and Marine who dedicated his life to serving his country. Murtha served a distinguished 37 years in the Marine Corps and received the Bronze Star with Combat "V," two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for his service in the Vietnam War, retiring as a colonel in 1990.

In his public life, Murtha served the people of Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District from 1974 until his death in 2010. In his position as the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, he oversaw funding issues for the Department of Defense, including the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and the intelligence community.

"Both in uniform and in the halls of Congress, Chairman Murtha dedicated his life to serving his country both in the Marine Corps and Congress. His unwavering support of our Sailors and Marines, and in particular of our wounded warriors, was well known and deeply appreciated," said Mabus.

The future USS John P. Murtha will be used to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies, by embarked air cushion or conventional landing craft or expeditionary fighting vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. It will support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.

The amphibious transport dock ship will be 684 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 105 feet, displace approximately 25,000 tons, and will make speed in excess of 22 knots. It will be crewed by 363 personnel and embark an additional 700 Marines.

US Navy Prepares to Participate in Exercise Malabar 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki, Navy Public Affairs Supprt Element West, Det. Japan

GOA, India (NNS) -- Ships, submarines and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet arrived in Goa, India, April 23 to begin exercise Malabar 2010 hosted by the Indian Navy.

Malabar is a week-long bilateral military exercise which aims to promote the interoperability of these two maritime allies.

The activities will range from fundamental coordination and communication to more advanced and complex strategic naval operations.

"The U.S. Navy and Indian Navy are natural partners and friends who share a mutual desire to ensure security and stability in this region," said Rear Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "A high-end exercise like Malabar strengthens our growing naval relationship and the interoperability between our two professional maritime forces."

Training conducted at sea will include surface and anti-submarine warfare, coordinated gunnery exercises, air defense and visit, board, search and seizure drills. Sailors of both services will also take part in professional exchanges and discussions while at sea and on shore. U.S. Navy personnel will also participate in a community service project during the port visit to Goa.

U.S. forces participating in Malabar will include the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Chafee (DDG 90), Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Curts (FFG 38), Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760), P-3 Orion aircraft, SH-60 helicopters and a Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) special forces detachment.

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.

Freedom Successfully Concludes Historic Maiden Deployment

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrives in San Diego Harbor as she completes her maiden deployment. Freedom conducted counter-illicit trafficiking operations, successfully integrated with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, performed exercises with partner navies, made three theater security port visits and conducted joint maneuvers with the guided-misssile frigate USS McInerney (FFG 8) and her embarked remotely-operated aerial vehicle, Fire Scout. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elena Pence/Released)

By Lt. Ed Early, USS Freedom Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Navy's first littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Freedom (LCS 1), concluded its successful maiden deployment with arrival its homeport of San Diego April 23.

The historic deployment, the first for a ship of the class, came over two years ahead of schedule, taking the ship to three countries and through the U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. 3rd Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AOR).

While underway, Freedom conducted counter-illicit trafficking (CIT) operations, making four successful interdictions that netted more than five tons of cocaine, seized two "go fast" drug vessels and took nine suspected smugglers into custody. In addition to independent operations, the ship successfully integrated with USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group, performed exercises with partner navies and conducted joint maneuvers with USS McInerney (FFG 8) and Fire Scout, the frigate's embarked unmanned aerial vehicle.

"Freedom's homecoming, after a successful maiden deployment, is a significant milestone for the surface Navy and the future of surface warfare," said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, commander, Naval Surface Force Pacific. "This is a special day for the Freedom crew, the entire LCS program and the great city of San Diego. As a team they performed magnificently and worked hard to complete their missions in support of the Maritime strategy. We have learned many important lessons from this early deployment that will be applied to future LCS fleet operations."

Arrival in San Diego comes five years after the ship's keel was laid in Marinette, Wis., and 18 months after commissioning in Milwaukee.

"The deployment was an opportunity that most had waited for several years to see come," said Cmdr. Randy Garner, Freedom's commanding officer. "The many lessons we learned will serve us well in the future, and I am very proud to have been part of the teamwork and focus that all onboard demonstrated."

After departing Mayport, Fla., Feb. 16, Freedom conducted CIT operations in the 4th Fleet AOR. In less than three weeks of at-sea operations, Freedom made four drug seizures – symbolized by four "snowflakes" adorning her bridge wings – and recovered more than 5 tons of cocaine.

"It's awesome to have those snowflakes on the hull," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Patrick Johnson, a coxswain for the Surface Warfare (SUW) Mission Package who drove Freedom's 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats during the drug interdictions. "I'm excited about what we've done, and I want to continue doing it."

From there, Freedom engaged in theater security cooperation port visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Panama City, Panama; and Manzanillo, Mexico. In each port, Freedom's Sailors interacted with their partner-nation counterparts and participated in community relations projects that benefited local neighborhoods.

Throughout the deployment, Freedom broke new ground in operations with other Navy ships and partner nation forces. In addition to working with the Colombian Navy and Panamanian Public Forces, Freedom operated at sea with the Mexican Navy frigate ARM Nicolas Bravo (F 201).

The ship also engaged in its first strike group operations with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group for high-speed operations, re-fueling at sea, surface gunnery events and visit, board, search and seizure evolutions. Prior to entering the 3rd Fleet AOR, Freedom conducted joint maneuvers in the Eastern Pacific with the guided-missile frigate USS McInerney (FFG 8), which carried the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle. McInerney and Freedom also conducted adjacent CIT patrols in the region.

"The opportunity for Freedom to work with a carrier strike group for the first time was icing on the cake of our first operational deployment," said Garner. "We demonstrated how Freedom and future littoral combat ships are capable of working as part of a strike group when needed."

Garner was quick to offer credit to the embarked units that accompanied his Gold Crew throughout the deployment. The SUW Mission Package was joined by Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 2, based in Norfolk, Va., and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.

"Success in counter-narcotics trafficking missions takes several teams to come together in short order and each of our detachments did exactly that," said Garner. "We were very fortunate to have the group that we did and it shows in the success they enjoyed."

The men and women of Freedom echoed their commander's pride in having completed their mission successfully.

"I did not expect anything less from our crew - this is the way they have always performed," said Freedom Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Anthony Decker. "As for our detachments, we wouldn't have had the success we had without their expertise and help. They have been phenomenal."

After performing a crew swap – with the Gold Crew turning over to the Blue Crew, commanded by Cmdr. Kris Doyle – and undergoing maintenance, Freedom will resume operations in summer 2010 by journeying to the International Fleet Review at Esquimalt, British Columbia, and participating in the 2010 Rim of the Pacific exercise.

The first ship of the revolutionary LCS program, Freedom is a fast, agile and maneuverable ship designed to compliment the Navy's larger multimission surface combatants in select mission areas, including combating submarines, mines and fast-attack craft threats in the littorals.

Air Force officials launch Atlas V carrying X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle launches April 22, 2010, from Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFNS) -- Members of the 45th Space Wing here launched a United Launch Alliance-built Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle carrying an X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle at 7:52 p.m. EDT April 22 here.

The X-37B, making its first space flight, will provide a flexible space test platform to conduct various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be efficiently transported to and from the space environment where it will need to function.

A number of new technologies will also be tested on the X-37B itself.

"If these technologies on the vehicle prove to be as good as we estimate, it will make our access to space more responsive, perhaps cheaper, and push us in the vector toward being able to react to warfighter needs more quickly," said Gary Payton, the Air Force deputy undersecretary for space Programs.

"This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future," said Col. André Lovett, the 45th Space Wing vice commander and launch decision authority for the mission. "The 45th Space Wing (members are) proud to launch this historic mission and continue our commitment to assuring access to the high frontier."

The mission marked a number of important firsts.

"As the first U.S. unmanned re-entering space vehicle, the first of its kind, it has been remarkably easy to work with," said Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, the 45th Launch Support Squadron commander. "Processing and preparations went extremely smooth, and there were absolutely no delays in the vehicle processing. Overall there was great cooperation between the Air Force (officials) and industry teams of Boeing, (United Launch Alliance) and Astrotech, where we processed the spacecraft, to make sure everything went smoothly."

The mission was also the first launch of an Atlas V with the 501 configuration, requiring no solid rocket motors, and the first launch in five years to involve a 5-meter class fairing, Colonel Bowman said. "This vehicle is light enough to launch without the solid rocket motors even with the larger fairing, making this a rather unique configuration."

The X-37B program directly supports the Department of Defense's technology risk reduction efforts for new satellite systems. It will provide an "on-orbit laboratory" test environment to prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programs.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NMCB 74 Returns From Afghanistan Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Lindsey

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74's Delayed Party arrived in their homeport of Gulfport, Miss., April 18 marking the completion of a successful eight-month deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 160 NMCB 74 seabees deployed in August of 2009 for a scheduled six-month deployment. NMCB 5 transferred authority to NMCB 74 at Camp Natasha, located on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan August 18, 2009 and immediately NMCB 74 began their mission of building and expanding camps, forward operating bases (FOBs) and combat outposts (COPs) spread across the country.

"I am overwhelmed with pride and impressed with the accomplishments of NMCB 74 during this deployment. The quantity of work accomplished is unprecedented," said Commanding Officer Cmdr. Bruce Nevel, "The most rewarding aspect of our work over here is when we hear from the warfighters how grateful they are and what a positive impact we have made in their ability to perform their mission and quality of life in Afghanistan."

NMCB 74 provided contingency construction support in several different locations with many detachments and details spread across Afghanistan operating at the tip of the spear. They were in direct support of not only U.S. forces, but NATO and International Security Afghan Forces (ISAF) forces as well.

"You should be proud of the accomplishments of the battalion as well as your own individual accomplishments and sacrifices. It is a team sport over here and our chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Whether you were on a project, working for camp maintenance, in the BAS (battalion aid station), the armory or the public affairs office, no one person's contribution was any more or less significant than another. NMCB 74 made history this deployment and every one of us should be extremely proud of that fact," said Nevel.

In late December, not long after 74 had celebrated its mid-deployment party, Nevel announced to his troops that the deployment was being extended two months; a result of President Obama's planned 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan.

"News of the extension was a huge challenge!" said Victoria Vanginkel, a command ombudsman. "We had a lot of upset spouses, and we had to tell them that it wasn't our commanding officer's decision and that it came down from much higher level. It was hard, but I think it was worth it, and it made a lot of people stronger, especially the newer spouses that didn't think they could make it through these things."

"I feel proud to have been a part of this historical deployment," said Gunner's Mate Seaman Mark Sorokey. "It feels good to know that our hard work and sacrifice was in direct support of the war effort against terrorism."

NMCB 74 transferred authority back to NMCB 5 April 10. The ceremony was held on the recently completed Seabee camp, Camp Krutke, located on the expansion area of Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

"Everything has changed," said Nevel. "From our Seabee camp to berthing, logistic processes and MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) assets, even the battlespace AO [area of operation]. This is going to be a completely different deployment for NMCB 5 than their previous experience in southern Afghanistan."

Now that NMCB 74's remaining troops have returned home, after just a few days rest the battalion will begin its homeport training cycle in preparation for the next deployment. NMCB 74 is scheduled for their next deployment to the European/African area of operations later this year.

USS Mobile Bay Completes Extensive Modernization Upgrades

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), the second cruiser to undergo the most comprehensive upgrade and modernization program in the history of the U.S. Navy, completed its 10-month shipyard availability April 19 and will soon be reintegrated back into the fleet.

All Ticonderoga-class cruisers are undergoing extensive structured modernization efforts in order to improve the Navy's warfighting capability by supporting future combat system integration, improving operational availability, increasing capacity and ensuring ships reach their expected service life.

"A key tenet of the Navy's plan to remain deployable and combat ready depends on our ability to upgrade today's fleet to meet tomorrow's requirements," said Rear Adm. James P. McManamon, the Naval Sea Systems Command deputy commander for surface warfare (SEA 21). "The technology insertion and system upgrades received as a part of the Cruiser Modernization Program are necessary to ensure the capability and capacity to pace future threats"

During the ship's modernization availability at BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair, Mobile Bay was equipped with the some of the world's most modern warfighting technology, including upgrades to the Aegis weapons system, improved sonar and radar technologies and a full combat systems overhaul.

With a core mission to sustain, modernize and increase the warfighting capabilities of Aegis-equipped cruisers, the targeted efforts of SEA 21's Cruiser Modernization Program strive to keep total ownership costs at a minimum, while keeping the ships mission effective throughout their service lives. The Navy has been able to extend service life on these valuable assets and support the current maritime strategy, while making the surface fleet less expensive to operate and maintain for decades to come.

Over the next several years, the remaining 19 cruisers will undergo this structured modernization to ensure they too are able to reach their projected 35-year service lives.

SEA 21 manages the complete lifecycle support for all non-nuclear surface ships and is the principal interface with the surface warfare enterprise. The directorate is responsible for the maintenance and modernization of non-nuclear surface ships currently operating in the fleet. Through planned modernization and upgrade programs, SEA 21 will equip today's surface ships with the latest technologies and systems to keep them in the fleet through their service lives. Additionally, SEA 21 oversees the ship inactivation process, including ship transfers or sales to friendly foreign navies, inactivation and/or disposal.

Fleet receives upgraded E-6B Mercury aircraft

Interesting article on the initial installation of the Internet Protocol and Bandwidth Expansion Phase 1 and 3 Programs on a Navy E-6B.

As a member of the Senior Leadership Communications System (SLCS), the E-6B may be used to transport and provide communications for any member of the senior leadership of the U. S. Events, such as the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina, have led U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to evaluate all SLCS platforms and determine which could be upgraded to provide additional capabilities during major events within the U.S. borders. As a result, funding was provided to Airborne Strategic Command, Control and Communications (PMA-271) in 2007 for the E-6B to be upgraded to provide additional bandwidth and information processing in support of the SLCS community.

You can read the rest of the article at

Air Force F-35 completes first test flight

This Air Force version of the F-35 Lightning II completed a test flight April 20, 2010, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. The F-35 is the first aircraft to be developed to meet the needs of three services -- the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps -- and U.S. allies, with variants being developed simultaneously by prime contractor Lockheed Martin. (Courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force version of the F-35A flew for an hour April 20 from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, becoming the seventh F-35 Lightning II to fly.

AF-2, the conventional takeoff and landing aircraft, is the Air Force's version of the Joint Strike Fighter. This fifth-generation fighter is the first one to carry an internal GAU-22/A 25-millimeter Gatling gun weapon system.

"The first flight of AF-2 is a significant achievement for the F-35 program, the U.S. Air Force and our international partners who will operate the F-35A," said James "Sandy" Sandstrom, Lockheed Martin's F-35 U.S. Air Force program manager. "This aircraft is configured to test and verify the multiple weapons loads that will deliver fifth generation combat capability to the warfighter.

First Minotaur IV Lite launches from Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Members from the 30th Space Wing here launched the first Minotaur IV Lite launch vehicle at 4 p.m. April 22 here.

The rocket carried the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2.

The Minotaur family of launch vehicles are provided by the Orbital/Suborbital Program 2 and managed by officials from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Development and Test Wing's Launch Test Squadron located at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Airmen deliver new Army helicopter to Europe

UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopters are assembled behind a C-17 Globemaster III in preparation for transport April 12, 2010, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jacob Corbin)

by Senior Airman Jacob Corbin, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- A C-17 Globemaster III loaded new Army light utility helicopters for delivery to the warfighters April 12 here.

This marked the first time UH-72 helicopters were transferred directly overseas via Air Force transport.

The C-17 assigned to the Mississippi Air National Guard's 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson, Miss., and it's payload of five UH-72 departed Columbus Air Force Base after several days of on-site preparation.

Traditionally, after being accepted by the Army, pilots will self-deploy the helicopters from their manufacturing area to locations around the contiguous United States, said Army Chief Warrant Officer Five John Jones, the acceptance pilot for the Army light utility helicopter program. The UH-72 is used for medical evacuation, wartime support and field training and is stationed at locations worldwide.

Mr. Jones said this group of UH-72s was different because they were being sent directly to their service locations overseas due to a combination of timing and need.

"Fortunately, there is an Air Force base close by, and everyone has come out to help us with this," Mr. Jones said.

He said the help of the Air Force and other services is crucial for some missions.

"(The mission) flat can't be done if all the services don't work jointly," he said.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Navy Pic of the Day - Leap frogs in Des Moines

Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Thomas Kinn, assigned to the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, flies an American flag above Des Moines, Iowa, before landing at North High School. The team performed at the school in support of Navy Week. Des Moines Navy Week is one of 20 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2010. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator J.C. Ledbetter/Released)

Air Force officials unveil new rescue aircraft model

by Airman 1st Class Brigitte Brantley, 23rd Wing Public Affairs

MARIETTA, Ga. (AFNS) -- A new model of an aircraft used in Air Force rescue efforts since 1956 was formally presented to the Air Force in a ceremony April 19 here.

The HC-130J Super Hercules combat rescue tanker is configured to provide support to special operations missions and will become a backbone of Moody Air Force Base's mission upon reaching its scheduled initial operating capability in 2012.

The geographically separated 563rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., as well as Kirtland AFB, N.M., will be the first bases to receive the new model for training purposes once it has undergone initial testing, which typically takes about a year.

"The unveiling of this new model is the dawn of a new day in personnel recovery," said Ross Reynolds, the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company C-130 programs manager. "There are few missions as honorable or challenging, and we are extremely proud to present our oldest customer with this vastly more capable version of the C-130."

The aircraft was designed with mission flexibility in mind. It's capable of combat delivery, air-to-air refueling, special operations and humanitarian and disaster relief missions, all of which equate to increased ground and air combat effectiveness.

"The recapitalization of the C-130 fleet is a big deal and the new model represents a quantum leap in technology which allows us to continue completing the mission," said Maj. Gen. Thomas K. Andersen, the Air Combat Command director of requirements. "Right now, the C-130 has one of the lowest availability rates in the Air Force and the introduction of the J-model will increase that rate by 46 percent as well as decrease needed crewmembers from seven to five."

The increase in capability comes from a slew of new features that differ greatly from those in the first operational model of the C-130 that debuted in 1956 and has the longest continuously-running military production line in history.

"The ability to complete the mission is improved because of several innovations with the J-model," General Andersen said. "There is an improved diagnostic system, a universal air refueling receptacle on top of the aircraft and enhanced generators which enable us to power more equipment.

"There is also a 34 percent increase in space, which allows more pallets to be loaded," he said. "Fuel capacity and efficiency are also greatly improved and allow us to fly for longer periods of time."

In addition to the operational features, there are also improvements to the quality of life for crewmembers while on board. These include an improved air conditioning system, flushable toilet and a microwave.

"The new features of this aircraft are great and will definitely make life easier for anyone who works with them," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Schlauderaff, who will be one of the first loadmasters to be assigned to the HC-130J. "One thing extremely notable is the improved diagnostics system and how computers are now used to find out what is wrong much quicker.

"Before, it was having one thing go wrong with four or five possible solutions," he said. "Now, it is much quicker to find out what is wrong and maintenance needed between flights decreases sharply from 30 hours to eight hours."

Other features on the aircraft include an internal winch, built-in roller, faster ramp, electronic locks for loading and a built-in tow plate for air drops, all aimed at saving man-hours without compromising mission capabilities.

"The increase mission capability makes this model quite valuable to the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Janet Kasmer, the ACC HC/MC-130J recapitalization program manager. "Right now, we have authorization to buy five more J-models, with four of those aircraft being purchased in the next fiscal year."

Other variants of the C-130J include models specialized for aerial and ground refueling, weather reconnaissance, electronic warfare, special operations and combat delivery.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DESRON 15 Ships Improve Warfare Capabilities during Multi-Sail Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brock A. Taylor, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Japan

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Several ships assigned to the forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) Japan completed the semiannual exercise Multi-Sail April 16 near the island of Okinawa.

Multi-Sail is a Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15-led exercise specific to the FDNF that enables ships the opportunity to train in several areas of surface, air and anti-submarine warfare. Ships participating included USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Stethem (DDG 63) and the Hawaiian-based frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57). John S. McCain was the command ship for the exercise with DESRON 15 staff embarked.

"The whole purpose of the Multi-Sail is to provide a focused time for each ship to improve their warfighting readiness by accomplishing training and certifications in multiple warfare areas. We do that by bringing resources into the AOR (Area of Responsibility) that are not typically available to our forward deployed ships," said DESRON 15's Commodore, Capt. Charles Williams.

One of those resources included a portable acoustic range, which was set up by professionals based out of Hawaii. The acoustic range provided the ships an environment where they could test their skills in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and obtain instant feedback on their sensor and weapon performance.

Multi-Sail allowed all ships to hone their skills in various warfare measures, and countermeasures. Each ship underwent training in live-fire exercises, which tested individual performance in small arms, and on a larger scale the accuracy of firing the Mk 45 5-in gun. Fixed Wing aircraft provided each ship a chance to exercise their electronic warfare suites. During ASW scenarios each ship was pitted against a simulated submarine attack where they had to respond quickly using torpedoes and counter-measures. The biggest event however, was the Missile Exercise (MISSILEX), which tested the ships as a whole.

During the MISSILEX both Fitzgerald and Stethem had to react quickly against air attacks using SM2 missiles while at the same time countering sub-surface attacks using Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rockets (VLA). Drones launched from the McCampbell gave both ships targets that flew realistic "stream raid" profiles. The MISSILEX was coordinated by Lt. Justin Santos, the surface operations officer for DESRON 15.

"This scenario brought both ships into a very tactically relevant scenario where they had to engage two sea-skimming missiles coming from over the horizon with Standard Missiles, while at the same time having to engage a submarine contact using VLA and also maneuvering at high speed to avoid potential torpedo attack," said Santos. "You just can't duplicate that type of training in the classroom."

Williams credits the Surface Warfare Development Group (SWDG) for much of the MISSILEX planning and the final evaluation of the data gained. SWDG and DESRON 15 work together on events throughout the year, and the Multi-Sail exercise and MISSILEX in particular serves as the pinnacle of their efforts to evaluate and improve fleet tactics.

For the Sailors who deploy out here in the 7th Fleet quite often, the Multi-Sail offered an in depth analysis into individual and shipwide warfare capabilities.

"I think the ships that are forward deployed at DESRON 15 and the (Commander Task Force) CTF 70 ships here are without a doubt the most ready ships in the Navy. Just looking at the geographic area where we are stationed, it's an absolute must that we do this training" said Santos. "Every time we get underway from our homeport of Yokosuka, we're in an environment where we could have to use this," he added.

Although this training is held twice a year, not every ship is able to take part due to the high operation tempo of the forward deployed naval forces. Williams said that having opportunities to do this type of in-depth training is something Sailors should take full advantage of when they have that chance.

"I think it's a big job for the Sailors to be out here forward deployed," he said. "It's a challenge, and it's also a very rewarding experience being deployed to the FDNF and living and operating in this area. I think for the Sailors, especially, Multi-Sail was a great event. It gave them the chance to exercise in their areas of expertise, and improve their own individual skills. It also allowed everybody to come together as a destroyer squadron, part of CTF 70 and 7th Fleet, and really excel as a group of ships and squadron."

Enterprise Completes Sea Trials, Rejoins the Fleet

By Ensign Michael Hatfield, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) completed sea trials April 19 after conducting intense testing of all major ship systems at sea.

The crew tested equipment, ran system checks and made certain that the nation's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and oldest active warship was ready to be redelivered to the fleet.

"The ship performed amazingly," said Capt. Ron Horton, Enterprise's current and longest-serving commanding officer. "She and the crew performed exceptionally well under rigorous testing including high speed turns and many drills. She's as capable as ever and only just begun to stretch her sea legs."

Although much of the younger crew members had never been underway before, the intense training completed during the Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability ensured they knew exactly what to do.

"This ship has an incredible track record of excellence," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Dominic A. Musso. "The Enterprise is legendary, and the way the crew and the ship performed during sea trials demonstrates decidedly that the legend continues."

The crew hoisted a broom on the starboard halyard of the ship's mast to signify a "clean sweep," a longstanding tradition for ships which complete evaluations with excellence.

Enterprise is scheduled to begin its training cycle, which will culminate with the ship executing its 21st deployment. The aircraft carrier's first step is to pass flight deck certification so that an air wing can embark the ship and launch aircraft - the primary mission of all carriers.

"We have now shifted our focus from fixing the ship to combat presence which is our real job," said Cmdr. Edward Galvin, the ship's operations officer, as the ship departed for sea trials.

Aircrews kick off Red Flag-Alaska 10-2

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFNS) -- The initial briefings and familiarization flights are complete and now pilots and aircrews are participating in world-class aerial combat training over Alaska until the end of April.

Officials here are hosting Red Flag-Alaska 10-2. Air Force units from Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Kunsan Air Base, South Korea; Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; and McConnell AFB, Kan., have arrived to participate in the exercise. AV-8B Harriers from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. also are participating and will conduct strike training missions. Fighter units and airborne command and control units will be operating from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

Red Flag-Alaska is a large-forces exercise conducted over 10 days in interior Alaska to simulate aerial combat. Aircrews will be operating in the 67,000 square-mile Joint Alaska Pacific Range Complex. The JPARC offers adequate space and ranges for crews to simulate full-scale aerial battles. Coalition partners along with servicemembers from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces have participated in past exercises.

Monday, April 19, 2010

USS Freedom to Arrive in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Navy's first littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Freedom (LCS 1), will arrive in San Diego April 23, after completion of her maiden deployment.

Freedom departed Mayport, Fla., Feb. 16 for operations in the U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. 3rd Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AOR).

The ship conducted counter-illicit trafficking operations, making four successful interdictions that netted more than five tons of cocaine, seized two "go fast" drug vessels and took nine suspected smugglers into custody.

In addition to independent operations, Freedom successfully integrated with USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group for high-speed operations, re-fueling at sea, surface gunnery events and visit, board, search and seizure evolutions.

Freedom also conducted joint maneuvers with USS McInerney (FFG 8) and Fire Scout, the frigate's embarked unmanned aerial vehicle.

During the deployment, Freedom completed theater security cooperation port visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Panama City, Panama; and Manzanillo, Mexico. In each port, the crew conducted several community outreach events and participated in numerous professional exchanges with partner nation navies.

The LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused ship that demonstrates the latest in naval technology. The ship is specifically designed to defeat threats in shallow, coastal water regions, including surface craft, diesel submarines and mines. LCS features an interchangeable modular design that allows the ship to be reconfigured to meet mission requirements.

Crew members are part of an innovative manning construct that reduces crew size, demanding each Sailor maintain high levels of proficiency in multiple fields. These "hybrid" Sailors are part of two rotational crews, "blue" and "gold" that optimize ship operability. Detachments embarked during deployment to supplement the core crew include the Surface Warfare Mission Package; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 2, based in Norfolk, Va.; and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.

Freedom will help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within U.S. 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile AOR in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the nation's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New unmanned spacecraft set to launch

by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young, Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- Air Force officials are scheduled to launch the U.S.'s newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft April 22 at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle will provide a flexible space test platform to conduct various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be efficiently transported to and from the space environment where it will need to function.

The X-37B will also prove new technology and components before they are committed to operational satellites.

The OTV is the first vehicle since NASA's shuttle orbiter that has the ability to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis.

"The X-37B is the only self contained effort intended to be an economically viable experimental test platform on-orbit for months at a time and then return," said David Hamilton Jr., the Air Force Rapid Capabilities office director.

Mr. Hamilton explained the X-37B as a risk reduction vehicle for space experimentation that explores concepts of operation for a long-duration, reusable space vehicle.

"The OTV has the potential to revolutionize how the Air Force operates in space by making space operations more aircraft like and adding in the capability for returnable plug-and-play experiments," Mr. Hamilton added.

The X-37 program, while originally a NASA initiative, is now led by Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office officials, which expedite development and fielding of select Defense Department combat support and weapons systems. AFRCO officials are currently working on the X-37B program, building upon early development and testing conducted by officials from NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The X-37B's first flights will allow Air Force officials to evaluate the vehicle's performance and ensure the components and systems work the way they were designed.

"There is much to learn in the first few flights on the technologies used on this vehicle, how quickly it can be readied for a re-flight, and on the operational utility," Mr. Hamilton said. "We have started discussions with Air Force Space Command (officials) to plan for the possibility for transition to an operational capability, but the system first must prove its utility and cost effectiveness during the test program."

The X-37B has a 270-day on-orbit capability and will be used to test technologies including advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics and high temperature structures and seals. Once the testing is complete, the OTV de-orbits and lands autonomously.

"While the X-37B is on orbit, it is like most satellites in that there are operators monitoring telemetry and sending commands to maintain the health of the spacecraft," said Lt. Col. Troy Giese, the X-37B systems program director. "Upon being given the command to return to Earth, the X-37B will automatically descend through the atmosphere and land on the designated runway. There is no one on the ground with a joystick flying it."

The X-37B is scheduled to land at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

"The X-37B is an important step in the effort to make space access more routine, affordable, and responsive," Mr. Hamilton said. "The technologies and concepts of employment that are proven by the Orbital Test Vehicle will be folded into development programs that will provide capabilities for our warfighters in the future."

Friday, April 16, 2010

USS San Juan Arrives at PNSY for Overhaul

KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- USS San Juan (SSN 751), along with a crew of 13 officers and 121 enlisted personnel, arrived at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY), April 8, for an engineered overhaul (EOH).

San Juan will undergo maintenance and receive system upgrades.

"We are excited to have San Juan here at PNSY," said D. K. Horne, project superintendent. "Our pre-arrival team has done a great job getting us ready for the boat. I have a great execution team, and we are working with an excellent, hard-working crew. We are committed to delivering San Juan back to the fleet on-time with Portsmouth's historic quality."

San Juan was commissioned in August 1988 and was the first of the Los Angeles-class submarines to receive a number of improvements to the basic design. Like all the submarines that followed in its class, San Juan is quieter, incorporates an advanced sonar suite combat system, and is able to lay mines from her torpedo tubes. Forward diving planes were moved from the sail to the bow, and the sail strengthened for ice break through.

In January, San Juan was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" from Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 12, for superior performance of duty.

The on-time or early completion of submarine availabilities is critical in the maintenance of today's Fleet and is essential to maintaining warfighter readiness. PNSY, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, provides the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet with quality overhaul work in a safe, timely and affordable manner.

USS Mesa Verde Speeds Through Maiden Deployment

By Lt. j.g. Jennifer Womble, Expeditionary Strike Group 5 Public Affairs

USS MESA VERDE, At Sea (NNS) -- As USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) approaches the halfway point in her maiden deployment, her flexibility continues to enable her to fulfill multiple missions from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Haiti to maritime security operations (MSO) in the Arabian Gulf.

"We started off with a very meaningful mission right out the gate, going down and helping folks in Haiti. That was a tremendous opportunity for the ship to really earn its operational stripes," said Cmdr. Larry LeGree, Mesa Verde's commanding officer.

"I have a really solid team, and we're enjoying operating this new ship," said LeGree.

Mesa Verde is forward deployed helping to ensure security and stability in U.S. 5th Fleet's Area of Responsibility (AOR).

As part of the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group, Mesa Verde is one of three ships that either operate together as a group, or when needed separately to fulfill multiple missions.

Mesa Verde is operating separately, also known as conducting distributed operations, during most of its time in theater, requiring it to move locations frequently.

"If this [distributed operations] is the way the ARG/MEU (amphibious ready group/marine expeditionary unit) teams are going to operate in the future - these big LPDs really are a good platform for that," said LeGree.

Mesa Verde's speed and fuel efficiency has enabled the ship to increase her operating range and flexibility, making Mesa Verde a sought after commodity for mission commanders.

"The ship has a beautiful hull form. It's a very laminar kind of flow to it. And, as a result, it's a fast ship and it is also a very fuel efficient ship. I have no problem covering lots of ground. And that's the reality of distributed operations; we go from one position for one exercise or engagement to another and we make lots of good, sustainable speeds," said LeGree.

Mesa Verde is part of the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, currently supporting MSO and theater security cooperation operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, under the command of Expeditionary Strike Group 5.

Navy to Christen Guided Missile Destroyer William P. Lawrence

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will christen the newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, William P. Lawrence, April 17 during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

Designated DDG 110, the new destroyer honors the late Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, who served nearly six years as a prisoner of war (POW) in North Vietnam and later as superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Lawrence was born Jan. 13, 1930, in Nashville, Tenn. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1951. At the U.S. Naval Academy, he played three varsity sports and was president and brigade commander, in which capacity he helped establish the Brigade Honor concept. He graduated from the Naval Air Test Center as an honor graduate and in 1958 was the first naval aviator to fly twice the speed of sound.

During the Vietnam War, as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, Lawrence earned the Silver Star for a strike against a heavily defended target in North Vietnam. He completed his mission, but was captured after his aircraft went down. He remained a POW from June 1967 until March 1973. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership to fellow POWs.

Following promotion to rear admiral in 1974, he served as commander, Light Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet; director, Aviation Programs Division on the staff of the chief of naval operations; assistant deputy chief of naval operations (air warfare); superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy; commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet in the Pacific; and chief of naval personnel, retiring in 1986.

Ross Perot, Texas businessman and former presidential candidate, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Diane Lawrence, widow of the ship's namesake, and Vice Adm. Lawrence's daughters, Laurie Lawrence and retired Capt. Wendy Lawrence, will serve as sponsors of the ship. In accordance with Navy tradition, they will break a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow and christen the ship.

William P. Lawrence, the 60th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. William P. Lawrence 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," which postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Thomas R. Williams, II, is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton William P. Lawrence is being built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. 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.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

First P-8A Poseidon Arrives at NAS Patuxent River

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, MD (NNS) -- The first P-8A Poseidon test aircraft arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, April 10.

The aircraft, recently assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, arrived after a six hour, 55 min. flight from Boeing's Seattle facilities. VX-20's Government Flight Test Director Cmdr. Jim Reining, along with VX-1's Operational Test Director Cmdr. John Verniest and Boeing's P-8A chief pilot Chris Dobb delivered the aircraft referred to as T1.

T1 began formal Navy flight testing at the Boeing facility in October 2009. The Integrated Test Team (ITT) spent the past six months executing ground and flight tests while maximizing the expertise of Boeing P-8A engineers and technicians.

"It was an exciting moment to watch the first P-8A Poseidon touch down at Pax River today," said Capt. Mike Moran, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program manager (PMA-290). "The maritime patrol and reconnaissance platform is in great demand throughout the world and this flight put us one step closer to delivering Poseidon to the fleet. I cannot be more proud of our team as they work to ensure this aircraft will meet our warfighters' requirements."

Moran said that the program continues to meet all performance criteria and is on track for initial operational capability in 2013.

"The ITT, along with all Boeing's Seattle production and maintenance team has worked very hard to get the aircraft to Pax River to complete the planned test program," said Reining. "The ITT is grateful for the strong support from PMA-290 and Boeing management and is excited to get to work testing at Pax River."

The Poseidon ITT, comprised of Navy test squadrons (VX-20 and VX-1), and Boeing, will utilize T1 to evaluate the P-8A's airworthiness and expand its flight envelope.

The program's other two flight test aircraft, T2 and T3, will transfer to Pax River later this year. These aircraft will focus on extensive mission systems and weapons system testing, ensuring the P-8A's ability to carry out the anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

The Poseidon will replace the P-3C Orion as the Navy's premier maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. Its advanced mission systems, software and communications technology will allow the Fleet to carry out the same missions as the Orion, but with greater situational awareness that will enhance mission success.

Lynn details Defense Department's space strategy

by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) -- From the commander in chief in the White House to an Airman manning an observation tower on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, space is the domain that ties them together.

Space provides critical capabilities for the Defense Department and the organization must change its space strategy as the situations and conditions change, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said at the National Space Symposium here.

Speaking to about 4,000 civilian and military space experts April 14 at the Broadmoor Hotel complex, the deputy secretary outlined the Defense Department's strategy to address the changing space environment.

Space gives the department four critical advantages, he said: to strike precisely, to navigate with accuracy, to communicate with certainty and to see the battlefield with clarity.

"These advantages make U.S. forces more accurate and agile than ever before," Mr. Lynn said. "They extend the range of American military power. They have changed the nature of warfare."

Space allows Airmen to fly unmanned aerial vehicles over Afghanistan from their battle stations in the United States. And, space-based global-positioning system satellites provide the capability enabling the extremely precise targeting that's necessary for overseas counterinsurgency operations, Mr. Lynn said.

"The deployment of space-based capabilities in our military today is so seamless and so ubiquitous that forward-deployed units forget that many of the capabilities they depend on touch space every minute of every day," he noted.

The upcoming Space Posture Review is based on the idea that developments in space challenge our current posture, Mr. Lynn told the group. "The Space Posture Review starts with the premise that space has become congested, competitive and contested," he said.

Satellites and man-made debris are clogging orbital pathways, as more than 60 nations operate more than 1,100 orbiting systems. More than 20,000 bits of known, trackable debris also orbit the Earth, along with tens of thousands of pieces of space debris that are too small to monitor, but still pose dangers.

"Space has also become more competitive, with more nations working in space than ever before," Mr. Lynn said. A key to continued progress in space, he added, is for countries to cooperate in assets and benefits from space-based systems, citing GPS as a prime example of a technology with widespread benefits.

Nations need to cooperate to minimize the specter of communications interference in space, Mr. Lynn said, as the sheer number of communications satellites being launched is causing problems.

"We're approaching a point at which the limitless frontier no longer seems quite so limitless," he told the audience.

Finally, Mr. Lynn said, space is becoming contested.

"We can no longer take access to space for granted," he said, noting that some nations jam signals to satellites to censor what their people can see. Other nations can destroy satellites in low-Earth orbit.

"Still others have technologies that can disable or permanently damage space platforms," he said. "Our space assets could be targeted as part of a deliberate strategy to deny us access to the domain. By crippling key sensors and platforms such anti-access tactics could offset our conventional-force capabilities. Never before have our space assets been so vulnerable to destruction."

A new strategy must seek to establish norms of behavior in space, to use interdependence of space-based platforms as an asset and to deny any benefit from space attacks, Mr. Lynn said.

U.S. space experts are working to establish the norms of behavior in space, he said. Defense Department officials are trying to ensure communications spectra do not clash, and they're also working on a cooperative program to track and chart satellites.

Selective interdependence, Mr. Lynn said, is the second part of the strategy.

Space is a competitive place "with many rival actors maneuvering for advantage," he noted. In some areas, such as surveillance and command and control, there will be little cooperation, he acknowledged. In others, such as environmental monitoring and missile warning, "our shared interests prop open the door to possible cooperation," he said.

Denying benefits from an attack can be done by building redundancies into satellites and into ground and air capabilities. Mr. Lynn also recommended building smaller satellites with modular parts that would make replacement easier.

The first small satellites will launch later this year, he said, and will deliver needed capabilities to American servicemembers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Anothe New T69ME1 Style Station Surfaces on SHARES

This afternoon another new T69ME1 style ALE address has surfaced on the HF bands.

Late this afternoon I caught T60TN1 working T43DE1 on 5211.0 kHz.

So now we have seen the following stations:


On the following frequencies:

4490.0 5211.0 6766.0 6800.0 6985.0 6997.0(LSB) 7722.0 9106.0 10493.0 10816.5 11217.0 11608.5 13242.0 13568.0 14396.5 14653.0 15094.0 16338.5 17458.5 17487.0 kHz.

Again if anyone has anything to add to this please email me.

USS Virginia Returns From Maiden Six-Month Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class T. H. Merritt, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- A cloudy sky gave way to bright smiles and warm cheers April 13 as friends and family welcomed the crew of Virginia-class attack submarine USS Virginia (SSN 774) back to Submarine Base New London after a six-month deployment.

Cmdr. Jim Waters, III, Virginia's commanding officer, said the crew traveled more than 37,000 miles during the first major deployment for a Virginia-class submarine.

"We operated in all kinds of environments without incident," said Waters. "The work the designers put into this ship has proven itself time and time again. This experience has helped to seal the team in an amazing way."

As the Virginia-class attack submarine came into view passing under the Thames River Bridge, anxious spouses and children strained to see if they could spot their Sailor topside preparing to moor.

Emily Szolwinski, of Milwaukee, Wis., won the traditional "first kiss." While waiting to see her husband, Electronics Technician Seaman (SS) Maximilian Szolwinski, she said the hardest part of being without her husband was doing without his sense of humor.

"I missed his smile most. But, I also learned I could overcome a lot of obstacles too," she said. "The Navy family helped me stay strong."

Her husband said that his friends and shipmates helped him keep a positive attitude, and now it's time to enjoy sleeping in for a day or two.

"We worked hard, and now I just want to spend as much time with my family as I can," he said.

Deploying Oct. 15, 2009, Virginia spent the last six months conducting operations in the U.S. European and Central Command Areas of Responsibility.

The crew made port calls in Rota, Spain; Souda Bay, Greece; Fujahra, United Arab Emirates; and Aksaz, Turkey where Sailors got the opportunity to experience the local culture and serve as goodwill ambassadors for the United States and the Navy.

"This is a monumental day," according to Capt. Michael Bernacchi, commodore of Submarine Squadron 4, which includes Virginia. "I think this is a real transition as it marks the change from Virginia being a new boat to Virginia being a workhorse."

After some well-deserved rest and relaxation for the crew, Virginia will resume maintenance and training in preparation for future operations.

Virginia is the first in her class of the technologically-advanced attack submarines. She was commissioned Oct. 23, 2004 and is the sixth U.S. Navy vessel to bear the name of the first English colony and the 10th American state.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another T69ME1 Station Surfaced this Afternoon

This afternoon another new T69ME1 style ALE address has surfaced on the HF bands.

Late this afternoon I caught T86VA2 working T43DE1 on 5211.0 kHz.

So now we have seen the following stations:


On the following frequencies:

4490.0 5211.0 6766.0 6800.0 6985.0 6997.0(LSB) 7722.0 9106.0 10493.0 10816.5 11217.0 11608.5 13242.0 13568.0 14396.5 14653.0 15094.0 16338.5 17458.5 17487.0 kHz.

Again if anyone has anything to add to this please email me.

Jefe Sends

DESRON 24, U.S. Ships Arrive off the Coast of Scotland for Joint Warrior

By Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Nikki Smith, Destroyer Squadron 24 Public Affairs

FASLANE, Scotland (NNS) -- U.S. Navy ships led by Commander, Destroyer Squadron 24 (DESRON 24) arrived in Faslane, Scotland, April 9 to participate in Joint Warrior 10-1, a multinational semi-annual exercise held off the coast of Scotland.

The guided missile destroyers USS Laboon (DDG 58) and USS Barry (DDG 52), the guided missile cruisers USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and USS Vicksburg (CG 69), the guided missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), and the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195) will participate in the exercise's coalition course, which is run by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) in the United Kingdom.

Capt. Aaron C. Jacobs, commodore of DESRON 24, and his staff are embarked aboard Laboon for the exercise to fully integrate into a joint maritime operating environment.

Jacobs said this exercise will challenge ships with Fleet Irregular Warfare Training (FIWRT), stress individual platforms with disaggregate operations, and hone the Navy's skills working with allies.

"These are skill sets we often don't have the opportunity to practice, and Joint Warrior is a great venue," Jacobs said. "The work for this exercise has been in process for months, and we are finally here to execute one of the most important exercises for independent deployment certifications."

Joint Warrior serves as an independent deployment certification event for Laboon, Vella Gulf and Kauffman.

DESRON 24 Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Greta Densham said that a benefit of the exercise is the chance to work with allies.

"It's a unique opportunity for the ships to prepare for operations with coalition partners and practice NATO tactics, techniques, and procedures that they otherwise wouldn't see in a U.S. exercise," Densham said.

This semi-annual exercise promotes Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet's three focus areas: conducting safe and effective fleet operations to achieve mission, providing ready maritime forces for global assignment, and teaming with allies and partners in execution of the maritime strategy.

The two-week long exercise, Joint Warrior 10-1, is scheduled to begin April 12 off the coast of Scotland, where the participating navies will practice joint maritime operations in a controlled environment. Nations participating in the exercise are Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.

USS Klakring Begins Southern Seas 2010 Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Michael J. Scott, USS Klakring (FFG 42) Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- USS Klakring (FFG 42) and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 Detachment (Det) 10 departed Naval Station Mayport, Fla., April 5 to conduct Southern Seas 2010.

Southern Seas is a U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)-directed operation implemented by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) and carried out by Commander, Destroyer Squadron 40 (CDS 40).

It involves the deployment of CDS 40, Klakring and HSL 42 Det 10, which will sail the waters from the East Coast of the United States to the Caribbean, Central and South America from April through September 2010.

"Klakring and HSL 42 Det 10 Sailors, Team 42 as we describe ourselves, are looking forward to the many opportunities both at sea and ashore that we will enjoy with our partners throughout the region," said Cmdr. Scott M. Smith, Klakring's commanding officer. "This deployment is a first for most of us and will serve to enhance the sense of adventure we all feel when we set to sea."

Supporting USSOUTHCOM objectives for enhanced maritime security in its area of responsibility, Southern Seas 2010 concentrates on strengthening relationships with regional partner nations and improving operational readiness for all assigned units. In addition, Southern Seas provides the opportunity for U.S. and other forces to operate in the multinational environment, refine coordination, improve interoperability and demonstrate flexibility.

"Klakring will serve as a visible reminder of the United States' commitment to the Caribbean and South American countries," said Smith. "The partnerships that we enjoy within the Western Hemisphere are sustained and enhanced through these deployments by Sailors engaging with other navies and communities throughout the region. The by-product of this is a greater understanding of our partners and an opportunity to learn from them."

Smith said the success of this mission depends on the Sailors and presents a chance to not only showcase our country's finest, but also gain valuable knowledge from our friends.

"The Sailors in Klakring are the best our nation has to offer. I want every country to see that in the faces of these young men and women," Smith said. "I also want to learn from our partners. If there are five lessons that improve our readiness, our ability to better the lives of our Sailors or gain a better appreciation of other cultures, then Southern Seas 2010 will have been successful."

Formally known as the Partnership of the Americas deployment, Southern Seas gives a distinct name to one of COMUSNAVSO's deployments.

COMUSNAVSO is the naval component command for USSOUTHCOM and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility. COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the Maritime Strategy, including theater security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group Returns from Deployment

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland (LPD 7), and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) return to San Diego April 14, after a six-month deployment to Middle East and Southeast Asia.

"I am proud of this exceptional crew, who excelled at every mission they were given," said Bonhomme Richard Commanding Officer, Capt. John Funk. "Through their efforts and professionalism, Bonhomme Richard had a direct impact on our national security, and made a positive difference in each country we visited."

Bonhomme Richard ARG, along with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in Marine Exercise 2009, a multilateral training exercise. The Timor-Leste's Armed Forces and International Stabilization Force were also involved in the exercise, which was designed to enhance interoperability and communication between U.S. Navy and Timor-Leste forces. Cleveland and Rushmore personnel trained with the Indonesian Marines in jungle operations, platoon live-fire maneuvers, bilateral reconnaissance, and military operations in urban terrain.

Cleveland and Rushmore also conducted a series of training exercises and theater security cooperation activities in conjunction with militaries from partner nations in the Persian Gulf region. Training efforts focused on enhancing operational readiness, military-to-military cooperation, and interoperability with the armed forces of both Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.

Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard ARG took part in several humanitarian and community outreach projects during the deployment. In Timor-Leste, the crew took part in medical and dental civic action projects, visited a local orphanage, and also competed in a goodwill soccer match against the Timor-Leste national youth team. While in Phuket, Thailand they participated in three community service projects, painting, performing general repairs and interacting with children at three different schools.

After departing the 5th fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), Bonhomme Richard made a port visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where more than 70 Sailors and Marines volunteered at a daycare center for disabled children. They also spent three days painting and completing grounds work around the center.

Rushmore Sailors volunteered at Fukuoka Children's Hospital in Fukuoka, Japan, providing musical entertainment and interacting with young patients.

Also returning with the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group are the command element, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 7; the Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, Detachment 1; the "Wild Cards" of Helicopter Sea Combat 23, Det. 3; Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1, Det. B; ACU 5, Det. F; Beachmaster Unit 1, Det. B; and Fleet Surgical Team 9.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile AOR in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

Carl Vinson Arrives at New Home Port

SAN DIEGO - USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and its 3,500 crew members arrived at their new homeport at Naval Air Station North Island April 12, completing a coast-to-coast transit following operations in the U.S. Navy's 4th Fleet area of operations.

The aircraft carrier left Norfolk Jan. 12 and participated in Operation Southern Seas 2010, a U.S. Southern Command Partnership of the Americas operation, which provides U.S. and international forces the opportunity to operate in a multinational environment. The strike group conducted bilateral training and air exercises with Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru and Ecuador. The crew also enjoyed port visits in Rio de Janeiro and Callao, Peru.

"Our efforts with our South American partner nations reinforced our commitment to the common goals of partnership, maritime security and stability," said Rear Adm. Ted Branch, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 1. "With each country, we learned from each other both operationally and culturally and in doing so we strengthened important relationships."

Prior to Southern Seas 2010, Carl Vinson Strike Group led the initial maritime actions in Operation Unified Response, an international effort to bring humanitarian aid and disaster relief to Haiti following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Port-au-Prince. The strike group delivered 147,591 gallons of water, 1,095,442 pounds of food, and 36,250 pounds of medical supplies. The ship's medical team treated 60 patients on board while the air wing flew 1,299 sorties and 1,152 medical evacuations.

"During Operation Unified Response and Southern Seas 2010 we were tasked by the president to be a Global Force for Good, and we delivered. The families and friends of the Carl Vinson, in addition to all Americans, should be extremely proud of their Carl Vinson Strike Group Sailors," said Capt. Bruce H. Lindsey, the commanding officer of the Carl Vinson. "San Diego has a long history and rewarding relationship with U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and our Sailors are excited to be an active and positive part of the San Diego community."

The estimated economic impact of Carl Vinson to the local community is more than $400 million annually.

This was a scheduled homeport shift for the ship as Carl Vinson was a West Coast-based carrier before entering its mid-life refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) in Newport News, Va., in 2005. The Navy took re-delivery of Carl Vinson in July 2009. During the RCOH period, more than 20 million man-hours of work were accomplished, upgrading ship's infrastructure to last another 25 years and modernizing combat systems and air wing capabilities to increase combat effectiveness making the ship one of the most advanced ships in the world.

Also aboard the aircraft carrier are elements from Carrier Air Wing 17 including the "Red Lions" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 15, the "Sunliners" of Strike Fighter Squadron 81, the "Rawhides" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 and the "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125. Other Strike Group 1 assets, San Diego based Destroyer Squadron 1 and cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), escorted the carrier around South America and participated in Haiti relief efforts.

Another New Freq for T69ME1 using LSB mode

T69ME1 and its sister stations T43DE1 and T55WA2, continue to intrigue the Mil/Gov HF monitors. Even as we try to get a handle on the Mil/Gov agency of T69ME1 (I still say it is a station in Maine), Jon, a HF ute monitor in Florida has found them on a new frequency.

Jon wrote, "On the #wunclub IRC channel tonight while monitoring other ALE activity on 6995 U (Chilian Navy) heard some off freq ALE. Tuned to 6997 LSB and got T69ME1 many times. I did some Googling and found your weblog. Now parked on it for the night, 6997 L awaiting anything else."

Thanks Jon. So now we have T69ME1 on the following frequencies (mode is USB unless otherwise indicated): 4490.0 5211.0 6766.0 6800.0 6985.0 6997.0(LSB) 9106.0 10493.0 10816.5 11217.0 11608.5 13242.0 13568.0 14396.5 14653.0 15094.0 16338.5 17458.5 17487.0 kHz.

We also have T43DE1 (Delaware?) on the following frequencies: 10493.0 11608.5 kHz working a NG WMD-CST unit out of New Jersey earlier in the year.

And finally a new one T55WA2 (Washington?) on 7720.0 kHz discovered by Jack Metcalfe recently.

Interesting ALE addresses for sure. Anyone else have anything to add to these stations - frequencies/ID? Drop me some email.

Milcom Blog Logs - HF Apr 8-12, 2010 - Mid Atlantic

Our regular MMP reporter Ron P in the Mid Atlantic checks in again with his latest installment of military and government HF logs. All times UTC and Frequencies in kHz.

9 Apr:

07802.0 M42 (unid): 0100 USB/ALE calling 308 (unid).

07802.0 M42 (unid): 2330 USB/ALE calling 175 (unid) & 308 (unid).

10 Apr:

09106.0 T69ME1 (poss 69th Medical Detachment, FT Bragg NC): 1600 USB/ALE sounding.

11 Apr:

08170.0 4343 (unid): 0100 LSB/ALE sounding.

08710.0 131 (unid-poss partial for 4131): 0200 LSB/ALE sounding.

08170.0 4111 (unid): 0600 LSB/ALE sounding.

12 Apr:

08170.0 4343 (unid): 0030 LSB/ALE sounding.

08710.0 131 (unid-poss partial for 4131): 0100 LSB/ALE sounding.

08011.5 Unid (prob Cuban DGI): 2310 CW w/5-ltr group msgs using cut numbers.

04036.0 AA1?? (call missed-Army MARS): 2348 USB w/unid station in chat about using Winmor & internet.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blue Ridge Arrives in Jakarta

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josh Huebner, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Public Affairs

JAKARTA, Indonesia (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff Sailors and Marines of the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, 1st Company pulled into Jakarta Apr. 11 to the sound of the Indonesian army band playing "Anchors Aweigh" to greet the 7th Fleet amphibious command ship.

Capt. Rudy Lupton, commanding officer of Blue Ridge, was treated to traditional Indonesian dance performances while visiting with dignitaries of the Indonesian military and local Jakarta community.

The 7th Fleet band is scheduled to perform a free show to foster cultural exchange at the Mango City Square Mall. "I don't know what to expect because I've never been here before. We're going to do a 'far east tradition' show at the mall. We'll be playing with our big band and our brass band," said Musician 3rd Class Danielle Clark, who plays the flute, piccolo and baritone saxophone for the 7th Fleet band. "These shows are great because it gives us a chance to interact with the people and see them smile," said Clark.

Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet staff Sailors will join locals during community outreach projects in Jakarta. More than 40 Sailors and Marines are scheduled to visit Rumah Singgah Orphanage to participate in charity work. "It's a wonderful chance to learn Indonesian culture and about their lives. We have an opportunity to meet and play with kids and really be ambassadors for the ship and 7th Fleet," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist Quartez Scipio, who will attend the event. "Everyone's really excited to go. We opened sign-ups and had all of the seats filled in under 30 minutes," said Scipio.

Blue Ridge departed its forward-deployed home of Yokosuka, Japan, Mar. 1, for a spring deployment to further positive relations with regional partners. The ship has made port visits to Busan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

The 19,000-ton ship can carry more than 1,300 crewmembers and serves as a command and control ship for 7th Fleet operations. Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan. The U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of forward-deployed U.S. Fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

USS Ingraham Returns from Deployment

By Ens. Todd B. Chen, USS Ingraham Public Affairs

USS INGRAHAM, At sea (NNS) -- The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61) will return to Everett, Wash., April 10 following an independent seven-month deployment in the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AOR).

In addition to the more than 180 Sailors on board, Ingraham will arrive with nearly 30 Tigers, friends and family of the crew who embarked Ingraham during her last deployment stop in Pearl Harbor.

"As we return home we can look back with a great deal of pride upon a very diverse and successfully-completed set of missions." said Ingraham's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Adam J. Welter. "It's a real testament to the quality of training and professionalism of the crew that we could jump from disaster relief in Samoa to security operations in the Red Sea to engagements with foreign navies and heads of state and excel at each task. The continued support of our friends and families from home is a huge factor in our deployed success. Their support allows us to focus on our mission and go forward with confidence. It also makes the return home something special; we're all looking forward to being with our families again."

The Easy Riders of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 37 Det. Two from Hawaii, served as Ingraham's air component.

While deployed to 5th fleet AOR, Ingraham deterred smuggling and piracy as well as provided aid to local fisherman in the Red Sea by conducting Approach and Assist Visits in direct support of Commander Task Force 51 Struggle Against Violent Extremists and Pulse Of Life operations. Additionally, Ingraham conducted a critical and high visibility operation involving the escort of two newly built Iraqi patrol ships from the Suez Canal to Iraqi territorial waters.

"One of our primary missions during this deployment was to maintain a presence in the Red Sea," said Lt. Austin Duff, Ingraham's operations officer. "Our mission showed our commitment to maintain stability and protect the economic livelihood of our friends and allies in the region. The interaction with local fishermen was great; they appreciate and understand how our presence contributes to security in the region."

While in 3rd and 7th Fleet AORs, Ingraham engaged in Theater Security Cooperation by conducting numerous port visits, which included stops in countries of Tahiti, Maldives, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Singapore. In addition to participating in community relations events, Ingraham's crew engaged in military-to-military exchanges with foreign navy Sailors and executed joint exercises at sea.

"My challenge to the crew was to exceed our commanders' expectations in every task we were assigned and our Sailors ran with that concept," said Welter. "Based upon the feedback from each of the fleet and task force commanders to which we were assigned, Ingraham met my challenge. I am very proud of the way our crew performed as professional Sailors, technical experts, trainers, and ambassadors around the world."

Although proud of accomplishing their missions, the crew is looking forward to the homecoming.

"Just knowing that we made it through seven months of deployment and left it all out there on the field makes homecoming that much sweeter," said Navy Career Counselor 1st Class (SW) John Oliveira. "I can't wait to see my family on the pier and words can't describe how much I miss them."

Ingraham helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile area of responsibility in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the nation's maritime strategy when forward deployed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

USS Tucson Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled deployment to the western Pacific region April 8.

"The crew is very excited and eager to get this submarine underway for her first deployment since 2006," said Cmdr. Gary Pinkerton, USS Tucson's commanding officer. "They've all worked extremely hard this past year getting the ship and themselves ready for this deployment and regaining operational proficiency of all mission areas. I am very proud of each and every one of them."

Tucson underwent a 23-month depot modernization period at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., that included upgrades in all of her electronic systems in support of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, a complete overhaul of all machinery systems and a full external refurbishment. During that time, Tucson conducted numerous sea trials and a port visit to San Diego before undergoing an inter-fleet transfer back to Naval Station Pearl Harbor in 2008.

Tucson is the second ship of the U.S. Navy to bear the name of the Arizona city. It is the 59th Los Angeles-class attack submarine. Twelve vertical launch missile tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles provide Tucson with great offensive capabilities and strategic value. Retractable bow planes give the ship increased maneuverability and under ice surfacing potential.