Monday, March 31, 2008

Late Breaking News: Two New T-Bird VHF Freqs Discovered

A Milcom Monitoring Post Exclusive Report

Milcom monitors at this weekend's Tyndall Airshow have confirmed two new VHF frequencies in use by the USAF Thunderbird Flight Demo Team aircraft.

About two years ago I first reported that a new possible T-Bird VHF frequencies of 139.800 MHz (AM) could pop up at any time. That freq was used this weekend by the team aircraft and was IDed as Victor-1. A new second frequency (IDed as Victor-2) was also observed this weekend -- 148.850 MHz (AM). This one is a bit of surprise and could indicate that the T-bird Victor-2 freq could involve more than one frequency.

If you attend a future T-Bird show and note that 148.850 MHz is not active, you will need to turn on your Close Call, Signal Stalker, or Spectrum Sweeper technology. I expect that the new 139.800 MHz assignment will remain stable for the time being.

Again two new T-Bird freqs (AM mode):

139.800 MHz Victor-1
148.850 MHz Victor-2

And a special thanks to our field reporters at the show for sending us this new frequency information.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Milair Spectrum Hole List Part 2 - Update

Spectrum Holes Part 1 - 22 March 2008

Spectrum Hole List Part 2 (260-294.975 MHz)
When reporting activity on any of the spectrum hole frequencies on our list, be sure to pass along any info that can help identify the user and frequency usage. Also let me know if you want your catch listed here and how you want to be identified. This list is valid for ITU Region 2 only (North/Central/South America). Other areas of the world have their own bandplans.

Note: Any frequency below that is bolded are the highest priority monitoring targets and should be monitored very closely. Any freqs marked with an asterisk should also be high on your target list.

260.0750 260.1500* 260.2250 260.9250 261.0500* 261.0750 261.1750 261.2250 262.6250 262.7250 262.8750 262.9250 263.2750 264.1750 264.2250 264.3250 264.4750 264.6750 264.7250 264.8250 265.0750 265.2250 265.2750 265.3750 265.4250 265.4750 265.6250 265.6500* 265.6750 265.7250 265.8250 265.8750 265.9250 266.0750 266.1250 266.3250 266.3750 266.4750 266.5750 266.6250 266.7750 266.8250 266.9250 267.0250 267.0750 267.1250 267.2250 267.3250 267.3750 267.4250 267.4500* 267.6250 267.6750 267.7250 267.7750 267.9500* 267.9750 268.0250 268.0750 268.1250 268.2250 268.3250 268.3750 268.5250 268.5750 268.6250 268.8250 269.7250 269.7750 269.8750 270.0750 270.1750 270.2250 270.4250 270.4750 270.5500* 270.6500* 270.6750 270.7250 270.8750 271.0500* 271.0750 271.1250 271.2250 271.2500* 271.2750 271.3250 271.3750 271.4250 271.4750 271.6250 271.6750 271.7250 271.7750 271.8750 271.9250 273.6250 273.7250 273.8750 273.9250 273.9750 274.0250 274.0500* 274.1250 274.1750 274.2250 274.2500* 274.3500* 274.4250 274.4750 274.5750 274.6500* 274.6750 274.8250 274.8500* 274.8750 274.9250 275.0250 275.0750 275.1500* 275.1750 275.3750 275.4250 275.5250 275.5500* 275.6250 275.7250 275.8250 275.8750 275.9250 276.0250 276.1250 276.1750 276.2250 276.4750 276.5250 276.5750 276.6250 276.7250 276.7750 276.8750 277.0750 277.1250 277.1500* 277.1750 277.2250 277.3000 277.3250 277.4250 277.4750 277.5250 277.5750 277.6750 277.7750 277.8250 277.8750 277.9500* 278.0250 278.2250 278.2750 278.3750 278.4250 278.4750 278.5250 278.5750 278.7250 278.8250 278.8750 279.0750 279.1250 279.2250 279.2500* 279.2750 279.3250 279.4250 281.0250 281.1250 281.1750 281.2250 281.2750 281.3750 281.5750 281.6250 281.7250 281.7750 281.8250 281.8750 281.9250 281.9750 282.0250 282.4750 282.5250 282.5500* 282.5750 282.8250 283.0750 283.1750 283.2750 283.3250 283.4750 283.5250 283.6250 283.6750 284.0250 284.1250 284.3250 284.3750 284.8250 284.8750 284.9250 285.0500* 285.0750 285.1250 285.1750 285.2250 285.7750 288.2250 288.5250 288.5750 288.7500* 288.7750 288.8250 288.9250 288.9500* 288.9750 289.0750 289.1250 289.2250 289.2500* 289.4750 289.5250 289.5500* 289.5750 289.6250 289.6750 289.7500* 289.7750 289.8250 289.8750 289.9750 290.0250 290.6500* 290.7250 290.7500* 290.7750 290.8250 290.9250 290.9750 291.0250 291.1250 291.1750 291.8250 291.8750 291.9250 292.0500* 292.0750 292.2750 292.3250 292.4750 292.5250 292.5750 292.6250 292.6500* 292.7500* 292.7750 292.8250 292.9250 292.9750 293.0750 293.1250 293.2750 293.3250 293.3750 293.4250 293.4750 293.5750 293.6750 293.7250 293.8750 293.9000 294.6250 294.7250 294.9250 294.9750

The highest priority on this spectrum monitor list currently consist of the following frequencies (from parts 1 and 2): 277.300 293.900. If you hear anything on either of these two frequencies please drop me a note.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

NAVSO Hosts 2008 Hurricane Planning Conference for Jax Area

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alan Gragg, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs

GOES E/W Satellite composite image provided by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, Calif., showing the status of Hurricane Wilma at 4:00 am EST. Wilma, a dangerous category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale, has maximum sustained winds near 125 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 230 miles. At 6:30 am EDT the center of Hurricane Wilma made landfall very near Cape Romano, Florida. This position is about 20 miles West of Everglades City, Florida. (U.S. Navy photo)

Blog Note: We aren't far away from the annual DoD Hurrex exercise. Time to start dusty off my hurricane freq list. Keep in mind I provide complete coverage of hurricane frequencies on the sister blog to this one -- the Btown Monitoring Post.

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Representatives of Navy commands and ships from Mayport and Naval Air Station Jacksonville gathered at Naval Station Mayport for the 2008 Hurricane Planning Conference hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO) March 27.

The event took place at the Afloat Training Group training center, where attendees received information about how to handle extreme weather situations that might occur in hurricane at-risk locations such as Jacksonville.

NAVSO Meteorology and Oceanography Officer, Lt. Mike Duensing said the purpose of the conference was to increase hurricane readiness for attendees, by helping them prepare for when a hurricane hits, "because eventually, it will happen."

The conference also discussed plans for an upcoming Hurricane Exercise (HURREX 2008), where a hurricane situation is simulated so each command knows what to do in case a hurricane hits the area.

"Readiness is the key thing," said Duensing. "With the HURREX coming up, it's the perfect opportunity (for commands) to prepare themselves, to step through all the procedures."

HURREX 2008 provides ships and shore commands with a training scenario to help with emergency preparedness, evacuation plans, personnel accountability, and recovery.

As storms approach each region, a Naval administrative message will be released with an order to account for personnel, designating a start time for personnel accountability and family assessment procedures.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Monitoring the US Army Aviation Nets

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. An Army Reserve CH-47D, assigned to the 159th Aviation Regiment based in Fort Eustis, Va., hovers over an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) during a maritime external air transportation system along the Pearl River in Mississippi. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robyn Gerstenslager)

The list below is copyright 2008 by Teak Publishing and may not be reproduced or redistributed in any format without the permission of the author. Sites may link freely to this blog article without permission.

Would you like to monitor some US Army Aviation HF communications? Here is a sample list of recently reported frequencies.

US Army Aviation Frequencies (kHz):

3286.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
4032.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
4073.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
4443.5 Aviation/National Guard CONUS Net ALE/USB
4446.5 2-3 AVN ALE/USB
4451.0 3-227 AVN ALE/USB
4521.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
4611.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
4790.0 1-171 AVN Net ALE/USB
5101.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
5118.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
5135.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
5296.5 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
5310.0 South Flight Following Facility Soto Cano AB, Honduras ALE/USB
5337.0 Aviation ALE/USB
5500.0 Task Force Talon Afghanistan HF ALE Net ALE/USB
5542.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
5554.5 Aviation Net ALE/USB
5602.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
5662.7 Serbia Net ALE/USB
5666.0 Aviation Net ALE/USB
5750.0 1-227 AVN ALE/USB
5881.5 5-159 AVN Company B ALE/USB
6486.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
6560.0 Task Force Talon Afghanistan HF ALE Net ALE/USB
6751.0 Aviation Net ALE/USB
6906.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
6908.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
6911.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
7003.0 European (Kosovo) Aviation Net ALE/US
7632.0 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
7650.0 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
7667.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
7718.5 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
7819.0 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
7839.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
8000.0 Aviation Net ALE/USB
8003.0 Aviation Net ALE/USB
8050.0 Fort Campbell/Sabre AAF KY ALE/USB
8056.0 Aviation Net ALE/USB
8057.0 Ohio National Guard/Air National Guard Aviation Net ALE/USB
8065.0 National Guard Aviation/US Army Flight Following Service (AFFS) ALE/USB
8101.5 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
8161.5 12th AVN CONUS Net ALE/USB
8171.5 National Guard Bureau Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
8181.5 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
8183.0 National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
8184.5 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net [also Dust Off Net] ALE/USB
8714.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
8950.5 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
8972.0 Aviation Net WAROPS (1/228th Avn Regt ("Winged Warriors") Operations-Soto Cano AB, Honduras ALE/USB
9013.3 European Aviation Net ALE/USB
9081.5 Army/National Guard Aviation Net CONUS ALE/USB
9190.0 Task Force Talon Afghanistan HF ALE Net ALE/USB
9295.0 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
10670.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
10680.0 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
10691.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
10692.5 Aviation Net WAROPS (1/228th Avn Regt ("Winged Warriors") Operations-Soto Cano AB, Honduras ALE/USB
10821.0 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
11047.6 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
11067.0 Aviation Overseas ALE/USB
11170.5 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
11439.5 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
11441.0 National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
11551.5 Army/National Guard Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB
11575.0 Army HF Apache Net ALE/USB
11628.5 Aviation Net WAROPS (1/228th Avn Regt ("Winged Warriors") Operations-Soto Cano AB, Honduras ALE/USB
11630.0 Aviation Net (3rd ID Combat Aviation Brigade=T3CAB) ALE/USB
12168.0 Aviation CONUS Net ALE/USB

And for CH-47 helo fans here are some of the Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) addresses seen on some of the frequencies listed above:

G00079 G00081 G00088 G00265 G00298 G24165

R00082 R00106 R00130 R00155 R00156 R00167 R00170 R00171 R00174 R00176 R00177 R00189
R00193 R00205 R00235 R00240 R00241 R00250 R00280 R00286 R00293 R00305 R00367 R01647 R01651 R01661 R01671 R10240 R24167 R24323 R24324 R24353 R24354

Blog note: I plan to have a more detailed list of US Army HF nets in a future issue of Monitoring Times magazine. It will appear in my monthly Milcom column. So remember if you miss an issue of MT, you miss alot.

USS Georgia Ready for Return

By Lt. Taylor Clark, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- USS Georgia (SSGN 729) held a return-to-service ceremony at the Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, March 28.

The ceremony marks one of the biggest milestones for this newly converted SSGN submarine since its commissioning ceremony in February 1984.

That same year, Capt. Brian McIlvaine, Georgia's current commanding officer, graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy. Twenty-four years later, the boat and its captain find themselves together at an exciting time and McIlvaine couldn't be happier.

"This is the job that I asked for. I'd have to say it is the best one that I have had," McIlvaine said.

At the end of 2006, his detailer asked him if he wanted to roll early and change to a new command in 2007.

"I didn't know it at the time but the timing really was fortuitous because there were four SSGN command tours on that slate - two on USS Michigan (SSGN 727) and two on USS Georgia. SSGN was tops on my list. So I was very, very fortunate to get command of Georgia," he said.

Not that the new command hasn't come without challenges. McIlvaine said after being in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for the past few years, bringing the boat and crew to a new base means establishing new working relationships with the major commands on base like Trident Refit Facility (TRF) and Squadron 16/20.

"We had some growing pains working through that," said Mcilvaine. "That being said, TRF did a fantastic job getting us ready and out to sea a day early."

The other challenge McIlvaine points to is being underway and getting the crew focused on being their own repair facility at sea.

"Fixing and keeping ourselves at sea with the goal of returning to port in better shape than we left, that is key," said Mcilvaine.

The Georgia crew has been back in port for a week working the plethora of details that it takes to pull off a successful ceremony of this scale. Working the detailed life on board a submarine at sea makes the crew familiar with this type of up-tempo.

There are a number of submarines that are named for a state and could potentially be stationed in their home state – Texas, Hawaii, Virginia, Connecticut and North Carolina. The fact that Georgia is currently the only one that is stationed in its home state isn't lost on McIlvaine.

"We consistently get a great deal of support from the community here. I would say that is the case for all the boats stationed in Kings Bay, but I think we have the advantage of getting just a little bit extra because of our hull's name," said McIlvaine. "It's just a great state. A great area to be homeported in. It's a great community to be a part of."

Following the return-to-service ceremony, the boat and its crew continue with their busy timetable. The boat has scheduled May 3, as the official date for their crew split to Blue and Gold, in conjunction with an exchange of command ceremony.

Georgia is scheduled for their first deployment in July 2009.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

USS Churchill Conducting Horn of Africa Ops

GODORIA RANGE, Djibouti -- An SH-60 Seahawk helicopter sets off dust and dirt as it lands to pick-up U.S. servicemembers during a Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa naval service fire support training exercise to help maintain proficiency aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81). (U.S. Air Force photo by Sr. Airman Jacqueline Kabluyen)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Russian Navy Flash Message Traffic

Fritz Nusser posted a very interesting message on the UDXF group yesterday. He made several intercepts of Russian Navy flash message traffic on several frequencies. Here is Fritz message.

Russian Navy General Staff VGK Nets (March 25, 2008)

Frequencies: 18.100 7657.0 9346.0 10535.0 11083.0 14411.0 14664.0 kHz (Mode CW)

Time (UTC) Call ==> Message
1307 RKS RDL ==> 39040 73798 neptazan 5766 7596 k
1315 RDL ==> 88311 88197 äragma 2107 1363 k
1320 RDL ==> 26873 28890 éwatmin 2304 5994 k
1340 RDL ==> 89135 34569 podgonäla 9217 0125 k
1356 RDL ==> 40210 00300 biplanowyj 8373 8057 k
1401 RKS RDL ==> 73611 24905 kupacan 6051 2681 k
1447 RDL ==> 11593 12192 aminosidin 9648 3451 solasonin 3881 6882 k
1456 RDL ==> 37912 69281 velonqik 0250 1234 k
1502 RDL ==> 52600 05491 wolot 1768 3340 propusknik 3855 1789 alkiä 8493 2810 smolxqik 1382 9353 k

Thanks Fritz for sharing your interesting intercepts with the rest of us.

Russell Departs for Deployment with Lincoln CSG

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

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) departed their homeport of Naval Station Pearl Harbor March 24 to join the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

Friends and family waved goodbye as the ship left the pier for a regularly scheduled deployment with the strike group in support of the war on terrorism.

"It's a pretty powerful feeling to see them leave," said a spouse of a Russell Sailor. "We recently found out I'm pregnant, so I can't wait for them to come back to celebrate."

Cmdr. Jeff Weston, commanding officer, Russell, believes the crew is capable of completing any and all tasks they may receive during the deployment.

"We are a multi-mission destroyer and we are given many different missions during a deployment," said Weston. "I always tell the crew we're going to go where we're told to go and when that time comes, we'll be ready."

The crew of Russell looks forward to getting back underway, carrying out the tasks assigned to them and visiting foreign countries during port visits.

"It's exciting and I try to make the best of it even though I have to leave my family behind," said Ship's Serviceman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Julio Cortez. "Every deployment I look forward to going to new places, seeing different cultures and supporting our country."

Prior to deploying, Russell participated in a Composite Training Unit Exercise and a Joint Task Force Exercise to hone their skills and become certified in mission areas.

"Both the exercises helped prepare the ship in the mission areas and made sure we were certified for deployment. Everything we can imagine to do during a deployment, they do in order to prepare you for deployment," said Weston.

Russell is 505 feet in length, 66 feet wide and has a maximum speed of 30 plus knots. The primary mission of Russell is to destroy enemy aircraft, missiles, submarines, surface ships, and land targets. Russell is normally assigned to a carrier strike group and brings significant capabilities to the battle force, carrying the latest technology in all areas of modern warfare.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Breaking News: Navy Contract Ship Fires Warning Shots Near Suez Canal

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2008 - A ship on short-term charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command fired warning shots at a small boat approaching the ship as it was preparing to transit the Suez Canal last night, military officials reported.
There were no reports of casualties from the ship, the Global Patriot.

Officials said several boats approached the Global Patriot while it was preparing to transit the Suez Canal. The boats were hailed and warned by a native Arabic speaker on the Global Patriot to advise them to turn away. Other warning steps, including a signal flare, were used to caution the boats.

One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots 20 to 30 meters in front of the boat's bow. All shots were accounted for as they entered the water, officials said.

The incident is under investigation. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet command is cooperating with Egyptian authorities, including the Suez Canal Authorities, through the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

And from my Milcom files:

Global Patriot
International Callsign: WWXB
MMSI: 368316000

The Global Patriot is a multipurpose Ro-Lo vessel Global Patriot. The vessel is ideally suited for carriage of rolling stock, containers, project cargo, heavy lifts, break bulk, and bulk cargo. The vessel primarily sailes between the US Gulf, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, East Africa.

Ronald Reagan Strike Group Underway for COMPTUEX

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Jennifer Kimball, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Michael Dominguez, of Los Angeles, waits for a launch cycle aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) departed San Diego March 17 to conduct a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California as part of the training cycle for a regularly scheduled deployment.

The goal of the 18-day exercise is to provide realistic training environments that closely replicate operational challenges that carrier strike groups might face during military operations around the world.

"The exercises we're participating in build our readiness because they're tailored to the real world and what we may encounter on the cruise," said Lt. Dave Haney, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 air warfare officer.

The exercise is evaluated by Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific and is designed to test the Sailors' abilities to operate in complex, hostile environments as a strike group.

"The exercise is strenuous and tests our maximum capabilities," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) William Holloway, one of Ronald Reagan's tactical information coordinators. "It's more in-depth than what we expect to see during deployment, so it prepares us for the unexpected."

The training encompasses all the warfare areas: surface, air and undersea. It also offers many training situations to assess how prepared the strike group is for deployment.

"It personally challenges my knowledge as a tactical data links operator and allows me to share my knowledge with the rest of the strike group," said Holloway.

More than 7,000 Sailors are working together during the exercise to hone their operational skills to succeed as a cohesive team.

"The training we do together while we're out here is really important. One squadron or one ship can't do it alone," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Constantino Dominguez, of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22. "But, if we train and work together, we will succeed together."

COMPTUEX is part of the Fleet Training Readiness Plan (FTRP) and is one of the final steps in preparing the strike group for deployment.

"FRTP training begins at the unit level. It starts out simple and progressively gets more complex," said Cmdr. William Minter, Ronald Reagan's operations officer. "It's important because it adds the strength behind the punch. We couldn't be as effective without this training."

For the past six months, each entity of the Ronald Reagan CSG has prepared individually. This is the first exercise where the entire strike group works together as one team.

"In less than six months, we've done what used to take a year," said Minter. "We'll be fully mission-ready thanks to hard work and dedication."

This exercise is a stepping block for the strike group. After they complete COMPTUEX they will participate in Joint Task Force Exercise, which is the final stage of training before the deployment.

"I'm proud of each Sailor's hard work to learn their jobs, because we may be called on to use those skills in the upcoming deployment," said Minter.

Successful completion of these exercises will ensure the strike group has attained the greatest training capabilities and is prepared to support any mission handed to them.

"It's a challenge we're capable of. Our men and women have already proven to be flexible for our nation's missions," added Minter.

Several aircraft, ships and submarines are supporting COMPTUEX by simulating coalition and opposition forces. The ships providing assistance for the exercise include: the frigates USS McClusky (FFG 41), USS Gary (FFG 51), and USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) as well as the destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88).

The Ronald Reagan CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. James P. Wisecup, is comprised of Commander, Carrier Strike Group 7, CVW-14, Destroyer Squadron 7, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS Howard (DDG 83) and the guided missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).

The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of VFA-22, "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, "Stingers" of VFA-113, "Eagles" of VFA-115, "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 113, "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 139, "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support 30 and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4.

Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. president, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.

USCGC Conducting Kennebec River Icebreaking

Coast Guard Cutters have begun their annual ice breaking operations on Maine's Kennebec River. Courtesy of the Pentagon Channel.

If you want to use a pop up media player click USCG/Kennebec Ice Breaking

I have a complete list of VHF Marine frequencies used by the Coast Guard posted on the Monitoring Times website at

And more information on monitoring the Coast Guard can be found in the Milcom Reference Room on this blog (look for this section to the right) in the US Coast Guard Asset Guide (4 parts).

JFK Towed to Philadelphia for Storage

By Kathleen Roberts, Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs
Celebrating 38 years of distinguished service, USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) enters Boston for her final port visit before decommissioning. (US Navy Photo)

PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- The decommissioned aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CV 67) is scheduled to arrive March 22 at the Navy's Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia for preservation and storage.

Due to safety and security concerns, the ship will not be open for tours while in storage in Philadelphia.

A contracted tug boat began towing the inactive carrier John F. Kennedy from Norfolk Naval Station on March 17. The ship was originally scheduled to be towed to Philadelphia in August 2007, but was instead towed to Norfolk while the Navy dredged in the vicinity of Pier 4 to further increase the safety of the ship mooring process and the surrounding waterway.

The public may view the carrier's journey up the Delaware River from many locations along the river in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. These include Gov. Printz Park in Essington, Pa.; Fox Point State Park in Wilmington, Del.; Ft. DuPont State Park, Del.; New Castle Battery Park in New Castle, Del.; Delaware City State Park, Del.; Red Bank Battlefield, Red Bank, N.J.; other public parks between Cape May and National Park, N.J.

John F. Kennedy is currently on the Navy's inactive inventory, meaning the ship has been taken out of commission and laid up for safe storage pending a future SECNAV decision regarding the ultimate disposition of the ship. As required by the fiscal year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the Navy will maintain the ship in a state of preservation that would allow for reactivation in the event the carrier is needed in response to a national emergency.

The ship's historical items have been removed and transferred to the curator of the Navy for preservation and storage.

Named in honor of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy's keel was laid in 1964 at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Va. In 1967, nine-year-old Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, christened the ship. "Big John", as the carrier would become known, was commissioned in September 1968.

A veteran of 18 deployments to the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East, John F. Kennedy amassed more than 260,000 arrested landings on her flight deck while operating virtually every tactical aircraft in the Navy's arsenal. In 1989, two of the embarked air wing's F-14 Tomcats shot down two Libyan MIG-23s that were approaching the battle group in a hostile manner. The carrier also participated in numerous other campaigns including Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and was sortied following the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Homeported at Naval Station Mayport since 1995, John F. Kennedy most recently served as a training platform for naval aviators to obtain their carrier landing qualifications. Her final port call was to Boston in March 2007.

The ship measures over 1,050 feet long, displaces 82,000 tons and could carry 70 combat aircraft – the full complement of today's carrier air wing. The crew consisted of more than 4,600 personnel when including the air wing. John F. Kennedy was one of the two remaining fossil-fueled aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy.

John C. Stennis Underway as Major Maintenance Nears Completion

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- The crew of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) got the 90,000-ton nuclear powered aircraft carrier underway March 24, for the first time in almost seven months.

Stennis will be underway for approximately five days to conduct a testing phase as the final part of the ship's major maintenance period.

Sea Trials is the final assessment of the ship's material readiness and ability to rejoin the fleet as an operational unit. After all of the ship's systems, installations, and repairs have been tested, inspected and validated, Stennis' major maintenance period, officially called docking planned incremental availability (DPIA), will be complete.

"The crew of USS John C. Stennis is ready and excited to take the ship out to sea," said Stennis' Commanding Officer, Capt. Brad Johanson. "I couldn't be more proud of every Stennis Sailor for their superb efforts."

Pulling away from the pier marks the first time the carrier has been operational since entering a Puget Sound Naval Shipyard dry dock, Sept. 28, 2007.

"The crew of John C. Stennis, teamed up with the super professionals of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, just completed the most intensive maintenance project I have ever seen," said Johanson. "Over the past six months, this ship has completed $240 million in upgrades and maintenance work. We have new combat systems upgrades, new electronic throttle controls, new arresting gear safety control systems, and an extensive suite of new aviation electronic support systems designed to provide maintenance for the new MH-60 helicopters.

"An incredible amount of work that would only be possible with a team of tight knit professionals driven to get the job done on time and under budget," Johanson concluded. "A major victory in our mission to keep Stennis ship-shape."

During Sea Trails, the crew will conduct a serious of tests and evaluate the work that was done during the maintenance period. While the ship was in drydock, shipyard workers, contractors and about 600 of Stennis' Sailors renovated drinking water tanks, main engineering spaces, aircraft support equipment, combat and self-defense systems, and berthing spaces.

As Stennis pulled away from the pier, more than 411,000 man-hours of work had been completed. The ship's forces painted 650 spaces and re-tiled 215 decks. They also cleaned out 295 vents, removed and refurbished about 200 watertight doors and completed 400 lagging (wrapping insulation around pipes) jobs.

After Stennis completes Sea Trials, the crew will focus on preparing for the ship's training cycle and operational proficiency in preparation for a deployment in 2009.

"It will be great to be back at sea," said Johanson. "We must now shift our focus from the maintenance phase to the training phase after an extremely successful docking planned incremental availability. We will now focus our energy and efforts on increasing our combat proficiency and overall operational capability. Stennis will return to the fleet as a national asset ready for assignment."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Milair Spectrum Hole List Part 1

If you have followed any of my magazine columns in the pages of Monitoring Times over the last 25 years, you might have seen me use the term -- "Spectrum Hole."

In August 2006, I introduced the concept of Spectrum Holes to my readers here on the Milcom Monitoring Post blog. In just over the course of a year, I mapped out and posted to the pages of this blog, all of the spectrum holes I had in my personal data base for the 225-400 MHz military air band.

Since then the readership here on the Milcom MP blog has increased over five fold in size so it is time for another round of updates. Starting with this posting I will compile and post a new list of UHF Milair spectrum hole frequencies.

So what are frequency Spectrum Holes?

A spectrum hole is a term that I coined many years ago for a lack of activity on a frequency within a portion of the radio spectrum. When you have valid frequency assignment in a spectrum bandplan that has no reported/monitored activity or known allocation assigned to that frequency by the controlling agency, you have a spectrum hole.

It has always been well worth the memory space in my scanners to have spectrum holes from the 225-400 MHz military aeronautical band programmed in. What makes the spectrum holes in the 225-400 MHz range so fascinating to me is that what was finally heard some of my former spectrum hole frequencies has been very interesting.

For instance, several years ago, a few of my then spectrum hole frequencies in the 225-400 MHz band turned out to be AFSATCOM downlinks from DoD military communications satellites in high Molniya polar orbits.

So if you want to do some cutting edge exploration of the UHF Milair band and be the first to monitor comms on a spectrum hole freq, grab an extra scanner or a few spare memory locations, and plug in the frequencies from my spectrum hole list posted here on this blog and let me know what you hear.

Mr. MT, down in FLA, did just that and recently passed along a couple of his spectrum hole discoveries.

"252.300 - I received a signal that seemed to be digital. (I have no digital receiver at this time.)

326.250 - I had one side of a voice conversation that seemed to be from a ground based transmitter. I now have a radio looking at that frequency only."

When reporting activity on any of the spectrum hole frequencies in my list, be sure to pass along any info that can help identify the user and frequency usage. Also let me know if you want your catch listed here and how you want to be identified.

Please note that my spectrum hole list is valid for ITU Region 2 only (North/Central/South America). Other areas of the world have their own bandplans so this list would not be valid in say Europe, where the UHF Milair band is extremely packed with activity.

So folks, let's get cracking and let me know if you hear any activity on any of my mystery frequencies presented below in this posting.

Will you be the first radio monitor to hear any activity on the spectrum hole frequencies listed in this posting? Who will be the first person to intercept and report a true radio mystery?

Spectrum Hole List Part 1 (225.000-259.975 MHz)
Note: Any frequency below that is bolded are the highest priority monitoring targets and should be monitored very closely. Any freqs marked with an asterisk should also be high on your target list.

225.0750 226.0750 226.9250 226.9750 227.2250 227.3250 227.3750 227.4250 227.4750 227.5250 227.5750 228.0250 228.0750 228.6750 228.7750 228.8250 228.8750 229.0250 230.2500* 233.9250 234.6250 234.6750 234.7250 234.7500* 235.0750 235.3750 235.4250 235.5250 235.5750 235.8750 236.1250 236.1750 236.5750 236.6250 236.6750 236.8750 236.9250 237.4750 237.5250 237.6250 237.7250 238.0750 238.4500* 238.4750 238.5250 238.7750 238.8750 238.9250 239.0750 239.1250 239.1750 239.2250 239.3750 239.4250 239.5250 239.5750 239.7750 239.9250 240.0750 240.1750 240.2500* 240.3250 240.3750 240.5250 240.5500* 240.5750 241.8750 241.9500* 242.0250 242.0500* 242.0750 242.2500* 242.3250 242.3750 242.4750 242.5250 242.6250 242.6750 242.7750 243.2500* 243.3250 243.3500* 243.3750 243.4250 243.4500* 243.5250 243.5500* 243.5750 243.6250 244.3250 244.3750 244.4250 244.5250 244.6250 244.6750 244.8250 244.9250 245.0250 245.0750 245.1250 245.4250 245.4500* 245.4750 245.5250 245.6250 245.6750 247.0250 247.0750 247.1250 248.3750 248.4750 248.5250 248.6250 248.6750 248.7750 249.9750 250.1750 250.2750 250.3750 250.4750 250.5750 250.6750 250.7250 250.8250 250.8750 250.9750 251.3750 251.5750 251.6250 251.6750 252.2250 252.2750 252.3250 252.3750 252.4500* 252.4750 252.6750 252.8750 253.1750 253.2250 253.2750 253.4250 253.4750 254.6250 254.6500* 254.7750 254.8750 254.9250 255.0250 255.0750 255.2750 255.3250 255.4250 255.4750 255.5250 255.6250 255.6500* 255.6750 255.8250 255.9250 255.9750 256.0750 256.1250 256.1750 256.4250 256.7250 256.9750 257.0250 258.0250 258.0500* 258.0750 258.1750 258.2250 258.2750 258.3250 258.4750 258.5250 258.8750 258.9250 258.9750 259.0500* 259.0750 259.2250 259.2500* 259.2750 259.5250 259.6250 259.7750 259.8500* 259.8750 259.9250 259.9750

AMC commander reinforces need for new tanker

by Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

A KC-135 Stratotanker sits on the flightline at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, awaiting ground crews to de-ice the tanker before it takes off on a refueling mission. The new KC-45A will replace the aging fleet of KC-135s. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Paul Clifford)

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- While many are focused on the formal protest of the recent KC-45A contract award, the needs of the warfighter -- and the nation -- remain unchanged. The Air Force's nearly 50-year-old KC-135 Stratotanker must be replaced with a newer, more capable aircraft as soon as possible.

"This is a matter of national security and we can't lose sight of that as a nation. It's critically urgent that we get on with bringing a new tanker into our fleet; our global range and global reach rely on the tanker," said Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, the commander of Air Mobility Command. "Tankers give us the ability to go anywhere on the face of the planet and strike our enemies, or deliver cargo or humanitarian aid."

The tanker procurement, if it goes as planned, is still a 30-year process, which means Airmen could still be flying the KC-135 into the year 2040, the general said. Considering most airlines retired the commercial version of the KC-135 -- the Boeing 707 -- years ago, "It's unconscionable for us to ask our Airmen to fly in, and attempt to maintain, aircraft that are 80 years old," he said.

The aging aircraft puts a significant strain on maintenance and aircrews who keep them in the air, said General Lichte.

"The only reason the KC-135s are doing so well now is because of the total force Airmen at our bases keeping them flying," he said. "For every sortie we fly, aircrews and maintenance remain flexible and consider a myriad of options if the primary aircraft can't fly. Those Airmen make sure when that thirsty fighter is in the sky over Iraq or Afghanistan, or that C-17 Globemaster III or C-130 Hercules needs to provide food or relief to a country in need, they are able to accomplish their missions. They make sure those airlifters, rushing home with a wounded Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, can get them to the loving arms of their families and a U.S. hospital for the critical care they need.

"The reason those tankers are airborne is because when they are deployed, our Airmen work six days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day to make sure they can launch them every day," he said.

Another issue facing tanker maintenance crews is the availability of parts for such an old aircraft.

"Just like an old car, you start it up and hope it'll make it. When it breaks down, you hope you can find the spare parts you need to fix it," General Lichte said. "That's the problem our maintainers face. Sometimes we have to go and manufacture new parts because there are no more left on the shelves.

"We've come a long way since the 1950s and '60s when these aircraft were sleek and new. Improved technologies and capabilities are available and we need to fold them into our tanker fleet," the general added.

Some key attributes of the new tanker will include the ability to refuel with both boom and drogue systems, and the ability to receive fuel as well as deliver it. Currently, for most KC-135s to conduct drogue refueling operations, a boom drogue adapter must be attached to the boom before takeoff. This prevents the tanker from refueling receptacle-equipped aircraft in the same sortie.

The new tanker is also expected to carry cargo and passengers, and have open communication architecture so it can receive data from the ground quickly.

"We've also asked for the new tanker to have defensive systems so we can fly closer into harm's way, and we've asked for systems that can defend against today's threats as well as emerging threats of the future," General Lichte said. "The bottom line is, the warfighter needs a new tanker," he said. "Any delays or hesitation are simply pushing the age of the tanker farther and farther out and increasing the risk to our national security.

"My hope is that as we go through this process of fielding a new tanker, following the letter of the law, we get through it quickly. And, when we come out on the other side, we get a new, very capable tanker to our Airmen as soon as possible," General Lichte said.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

TR Prepares for Busy Underway

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class(SW/AW) Jeremy Freehling, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

Blog Note: For my East Coast monitoring friends, heads up. The Big Stick and CVW-8 are on the way. Radios will be hot shortly.

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (TR) (CVN 71) got underway March 17, in preparation for upcoming carrier qualifications and strike group drills. The underway schedule is filled with scenarios the ship needs to complete before being certified for the next deployment.

TR Sailors will be conducting general quarters and man overboard procedures along with daily flight operations. This underway will mark the first time since TR left Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) that cyclic air operations will be performed on the flight deck. The flight schedule will resemble those on deployment.

Pilots who have been completing their needed qualifications will now use a full flight schedule for the squadrons. This will benefit both squadron personnel and flight deck crew on what areas need to be improved upon in the future.

Seven squadrons that make up Carrier Air Wing 8 will also be completing the necessary qualifications needed by pilots in addition to the cyclic operations. These landings will help familiarize pilots with the proper carrier launch and recovery procedures.

"It is important that everyone is on the same page and that individuals get accustomed to working together," said Lt. Todd Anderson, Assistant Strike Operations officer.

Many Sailors on board were not on the last deployment, so this underway will help both airwing and ship's company get acquainted with the tasks that must be accomplished during deployment.

Also, for the first time since leaving NNSY, TR will be performing drills with the entire strike group. These drills consist of communication and ship movement techniques that will be evaluated.

"Improving communication within the strike group along with coordinating ship movement is a vital part of the at sea period," said Cmdr. Karl Hines, strike operations officer.

These scenarios are a major part of the certification process of the strike group. Throughout the underway period, a naval afloat training group (ATG) will be observing these drills, making sure they are properly completed.

"ATG will not only be making sure TR completes these tasks, but that they are done properly and in a safe manner," said Anderson.

The strike group exercises will involve air, sub and surface exercises. Many of these exercises will involve pilots firing at targets, the various ship weapons systems, along with .50-calibre shoots by Sailors.

"This underway is the first step for the TR strike group to be prepared for deployment," said Hines. "What we accomplish over the next few weeks will go a long way towards us completing our mission in the future."

Commanded by Capt. Ladd Wheeler, USS Theodore Roosevelt is the centerpiece of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRSCG). The TRSCG is preparing for a scheduled deployment later this year.

CVW 5 Conducts FCLP at Iwo To, Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew R. White, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Japan

The lights of a F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 streak past the Landing Signal Officer's shack during night field carrier landing practice (FCLP) on the island of Iwo To. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew R. White)

IWO TO, Japan (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 conducted night field carrier landing practice (FCLP) on the island of Iwo To (formerly Iwo Jima), March 14 to sharpen their landing skills prior to embarking USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

"Landing on a ship isn't exactly the easiest thing to do in the world," said Lt. Raymond Bieze, an F/A-18 E Super Hornet pilot for the "Royal Maces" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27.

"We don't get a lot of practice to do that in Japan because of the pattern restrictions. That's why we come down here to Iwo To," he added.

Conducting night FCLP at Iwo To provides pilots with a more realistic training environment than if they were practicing at Naval Air Station Atsugi.

"They turn off all the runway lights," Bieze said. "You get kind of a sense of what it's like to land on a ship [because] there's no cultural lighting at all."

"At Atsugi you have the opposite problem," he added. "The cultural lighting is so strong that the runway is the darkest area around, which isn't realistic to carrier landing at all," Bieze continued.

Beside lighting conditions, practicing at Iwo To allows pilots use the same landing pattern they'd use for an actual carrier landing. Bieze noted the landing pattern at Atsugi is much higher than at Iwo To due to the large population of the surrounding community.

"It's not the same landing at Atsugi," he said. "It's a lot more advantageous to practice at Iwo To."

Bieze and other pilots know FCLP is not only a requirement, but a very helpful tool to keep them sharp and prepared.

"FCLP is done every time before you embark on a ship," said Beieze. "It gets you in the mindset to be able to land aboard the ship and gets pilots back into the groove."

FCLP isn't just for the pilots. Ground crews play a vital role in keeping the aircraft in the air and the pilots safe.

"I am the squadron's first line to notice if anything is wrong with the aircraft," said Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Michael Martin, a plane captain for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. "The plane captain is in charge of the jet," he said.

"If I find something I report it as quick as possible so they can get it fixed before it goes back up or down it so they can get another jet ready," Martin said.

Martin said the biggest part of his job is safety. He added that it's a good feeling to know he is responsible for the aircraft.

VFA 27 and VFA 102 are two of CVW 5's eight squadrons. CVW 5 is the Navy's only forward deployed air wing.

MSC Cargo Ship Loads U.S. Army Equipment Bound for Middle East

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command's (MSC) large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship (LMSR) USNS Gilliland (T-AKR 298) loaded more than 150,000 square feet of U.S. Army equipment in Antwerp, Belgium, March 15-18.

The equipment; trucks, trailers, tanks and other combat support equipment; belongs to the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Gilliland is delivering the cargo to the Middle East to be used in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, MSC ships have delivered more than 101 million square feet of equipment in support of operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. That is enough cargo to fill a line of railroad cars stretching more than 2,400 miles from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas.

"Serving the men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan by getting their equipment to them on time is one of our key missions here at Sealift Logistics Command Europe (SEALOGEUR)," said Capt. Nicholas Holman, SEALOGEUR commander. "These Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen depend on MSC to deliver the tools they need to do their job promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East and around the globe."

Gilliland is one of 19 LMSRs belonging to MSC and is ideally suited to carry oversized military equipment. At 954 feet long, the ship has 380,000 square feet of cargo-carrying capacity, equivalent to almost eight football fields.

Gilliland is named after Korean War Medal of Honor winner Army Cpl. Charles L. Gilliland who sacrificed his life to cover the withdrawal of his unit from enemy fire on April 25, 1951, near Tongmang-ni, Korea.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?

When my enemy has a large aircraft that can lift heavy, oversize loads.

Yesterday, MD Monitor reported an AN-124 aircraft (callsign: VD 4818) in ZDC airspace. The aircraft belongs to Volga-Dneiper Airlines. MM stated that this was a US Contract Airlines. Uh, excuse me. A Russian airline is a US Contract Airline?

This got my attention and after a bit of digging lo and behold the US Air Mobility Command has been chartering An-124 aircraft from Volga-Dnieper Airlines since 2003 for the transport of oversize cargo.

So what idiot and lunatic in the US State Department negotiated this deal?

To add insult to injury in February 2006, NATO signed a contract to lease the An-124, under the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS), from Ruslan SALIS GmbH (representing Antonov and Volga-Dnepr). Two aircraft will be constantly based at Leipzig airport and four more will be available on request. The lease is for an initial three years, to be renewed yearly until 2012 when the A400M transport enters service. The Leipzig maintenance base was opened in January 2007.

The An-124 is designed for long-range delivery and air dropping of heavy- and large-size cargo, including machines, equipment and troops.

So AMC. What your saying by hiring the AN-124 is you have nothing in the US fleet that can meet your needs? So now you are using the assets of Russia, the country who's military has made this blog consistantly this year by rattling their military saber. The same bunch who has violated sovreign airspace of our allies, buzzed a US carrier, opposed this country on numerous diplomatic issues, and their reward? Give one of their government run airlines a fat lucrative contract to haul our US military stuff around. A definite Golden Fleece Award winner.

Just Damn!

Navy Will Conduct USWEX; Asks Court to Clarify and Modify Preliminary Injunction

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Navy officials said on March 11 they're pleased that Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra recognizes the Navy's need for realistic antisubmarine warfare training and its contribution to national security.

The Navy, however, is asking him to clarify and modify some of the restrictions he placed on mid-frequency active sonar use during an upcoming undersea warfare training exercise (USWEX).

On Feb. 29, Ezra issued a preliminary injunction that places certain restrictions on the Navy's use of MFA sonar in a USWEX. The restrictions include reducing or halting sonar transmissions when marine mammals are seen within specific distances or when certain environmental factors are present. Attorneys for the Navy filed a motion for clarification and modification of the injunction in federal court in Honolulu today.

"We appreciate Judge Ezra's thoughtful consideration of the Navy's concerns and the importance of these undersea warfare exercises," said Capt. Scott Gureck, spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

"Judge Ezra specifically noted the necessity to assess how the conditions he imposed will affect the realism of antisubmarine training in USWEX. In accordance with his order, we will proceed with the next USWEX later this month and determine whether to seek additional modifications or clarifications," said Gureck. "If we determine the restrictions impede our ability to conduct realistic training and assessment, the Navy will report these concerns back to Judge Ezra and ask for necessary relief."

The next USWEX will be held in late March. It is Navy policy not to discuss specific dates and details of such exercises before they occur.

USS Columbus Departs for Western Pacific

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Cynthia Clark, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- USS Columbus (SSN 762) departed Pearl Harbor Naval Station for her first Western Pacific deployment in four years, March 11.

Cmdr. James Doody, Columbus' commanding officer, said his crew is eager to deploy after their overhaul period. Columbus returned to Pearl Harbor in December 2006 after spending two years at Submarine Base Bangor, Wash.

"The mood is pretty upbeat and everybody's pretty excited to get out there and do what we have to do," said Doody. "Especially since a lot of people have done a lot of work not only to maintain the ship while it was in the shipyard, but to do all the operational preparation that it's going to take for us to be successful."

Machinist Mate Fireman Robert Bresley, a recent check-in on board Columbus, agreed with his captain.

"I just got here last week," he said. "I'm very excited and I'm all packed up and ready to go on my first deployment."

Columbus is heading to the Western Pacific, where according to Doody, they will be conducting the "traditional" intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations and also will be ready to participate in any operation called upon by commander, 7th Fleet operational commander.

Columbus is the 51st of the Los Angeles attack submarines and the 12th "improved" version of this class, which includes a Tomahawk cruise missile vertical launch system and an improved hull design for under-ice operations. Columbus has been homeported in Pearl Harbor since 1994.

Essex ESG Completes Certification Exercises

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Ty Swartz, USS Essex Public Affairs

USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander Task Force (CTF) 76 successfully completed Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) Certification during exercises off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, March 14.

The four-day process further developed the Essex ESG's ability to operate in an integrated or coalition force environment.

The flag staff of CTF 76 embarked the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and exercised operational command over nine different ships and units including Commander Amphibious Squadron 11, Essex, the dock landing ship USS Juneau (LPD 10), and the guided missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) and USS Chafee (DDG 90).

During the certification, the ships worked together to defend the ESG from simulated aggression such as surface, subsurface and computer network attacks.

Certification as an ESG is a graduate-level exercise that tests the commander's ability to effectively conduct command and control over warfare commanders and units, according to Rear Adm. David Philman, commander, Strike Force Training Pacific.

"This certification was conducted during three distinct exercises over a period of two months, including Balikatan, Key Resolve, and the ESG Certification," said Philman. "Essex Strike Group performed well during the three phases of their certification."

"The keys to success for the certification recommendation that we provide to C7F are threefold: Strong leadership throughout the Strike Group, sound processes, which were refined over the past two months, and solid execution," he added.

An ESG combines the capability of amphibious assault and landing ships with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit, two or more cruiser/destroyer-type ships, and sometimes a submarine.

According to CTF 76 Commander, Rear Adm. Carol Pottenger, the ESG Certification tested every aspect of the ESG's warfighting capabilities.

"This certification allows us to operate as an Expeditionary Strike Group with escorts, cruisers and destroyers assigned in any number of venues, as a fully capable strike force," she said.

The ESG has the flexibility to conduct a wide range of missions from landing force operations in a hostile maritime environment to humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Under most circumstances, the ESG is led by a Navy captain and a Marine colonel in a mutually supporting relationship. When necessary, a flag or general officer will embark and assume tactical command and control over warfare commanders and units.

"We demand a lot from our carrier and expeditionary strike groups, and the fleet commanders have high expectations for the performance of each strike group," said Philman. "This expectation is based on well established standards, and it is these standards (to which) we train, and the fleet commanders certify."

Pottenger welcomes the training process, adding that unlike ships in the states that certify to go on deployment, Essex ESG is continuously forward deployed, so the ESG Certification is actually a method to increase the Strike Group's already high level of readiness.

"The challenge for us is that we don't get the types of workups that the CONUS (Continental United States) expeditionary strike groups get," said Pottenger. "They get several weeks if not months operating with their strike group and then they are certified at the end of that period of workups. We have no workup period with our escorts; we just go out and do it."

Essex ESG departed Sasebo, Japan for its annual spring patrol throughout the Western Pacific region, Jan 24.

Essex is the lead ship of the only forward deployed U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group and serves as the flagship for CTF 76; the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. CTF-76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa with an operating detachment in Sasebo.

SSGN Class Marks First – Entire Class at Sea Simultaneously

Sailors aboard the nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) get their first look at their new home as the submarine makes her final approach through the South Georgia inland passage of the Atlantic Intracostal Waterway before mooring at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kings Bay. The submarine was the fourth Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to undergo conversion to a guided-missile submarine (SSGN). Georgia will provide joint war fighters transformational strike and special operations forces capabilities. With the conversion now complete, Georgia is ready to be homeported in its homestate before being used in its new role. Georgia will have an official return to service ceremony in March to commemorate the end of her conversion process. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kimberly Clifford)

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy's newest class of modern guided-missile submarine, the Ohio-class, reached a significant milestone March 11, when all four submarines in the class were underway at the same time.

Since completing the conversion process from ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) to guided-missile submarines (SSGN), the four submarines in the class, USS Ohio (SSGN 726), USS Michigan (SSGN 727), USS Florida (SSGN 728), and USS Georgia (SSGN 729), have been undergoing modernization and maintenance availabilities, training, certification and testing in preparation for their first deployments. Ohio is now deployed in the Pacific Ocean taking part in Exercise Foal Eagle involving U.S. Navy forces and the South Korean military.

"It is a banner day for the submarine force," said Rear Adm. William Hilarides, Program Executive Officer for Submarines. "Five years and four months after we began work on Ohio we have all four of the SSGNs at sea. The unique partnership between Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, and General Dynamics Electric Boat delivered these four SSGNs on time and on budget despite a compressed and pressurized schedule."

"While this is the first time all of our SSGNs will be at sea around the world, it surely is not the last," said Hilarides.

Hilarides also noted that when the ships finish their post-conversion testing, that an average of 2.6 SSGNs will be forward deployed at all times.

"This event marks a great milestone for the SSGN program office," said Capt. Mark Bock, SSGN program manager (PMS 398). "It is a fitting tribute to the dedication of the submarine force and the men and women of this office. As we begin to stand down the program office, this moment in time allows the SSGN team, past and present, to reflect back on what has been achieved here."

Along with the capability to carry and support up to 66 Special Operations Forces personnel and deploy with up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the SSGNs also bring to bear a host of advanced sensors and weapons systems that make it a truly unique platform. The SSGN's size, open layout and adaptability allow it to carry payloads that—as future technologies come to fruition—can be inserted and integrated into the platform relatively easily.

GW Carrier Strike Group Completes Training Exercises

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The George Washington (GW) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) returned to port March 14, following the successful completion of their Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) while also participating in a Canadian Task Group Exercise, concurrently.

TSTA/FEP is designed to test the George Washington CSG's ability to fight its ship by evaluating the crews' responses to a number of damage control and casualty situations to ensure that they would be able to sustain operations despite challenging situations.

During the several weeks of training and evaluation, the George Washington CSG also participated in Canada's Task Group Exercise 02-08 (TGEX 02-08) with four Canadian ships and a submarine.

The destroyer HMCS Iroquois (DDG 280), frigates HMCS Ville de Quebec (FFH 332), HMCS St. John's (FFH 340), oil replenishment ship HMCS Preserver (AOR 510), and the submarine HMCS Corner Brook (SSK-878) trained cooperatively with USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS Farragut (DDG-99), USS Boone (FFG-28) and USS Kauffman (FFG-59).

The Canadian TGEX 02-08 was designed to prepare the Canadian ships for their upcoming deployment by testing each in a wide variety of mission areas from their air defense, anti-submarine and anti-surface capabilities to their ability to conduct humanitarian efforts and refueling at sea operations.

By participating in the Canadian TGEX 02-08, the George Washington CSG was able to take its TSTA/FEP to a new level of tactical complexity not normally undertaken during this type of training milestone.

The hard-work and cooperation from both the American and Canadian ships during TGEX 02-08 received high praise from the Commander of the Canadian Task Group, Commodore R. A. Davidson.

"In all, I believe this to have been an excellent testament to the progress we are making in achieving smooth interoperability between our respective Navies and clearly illustrates the value, both in training and for operation, in achieving that goal," he said.

The George Washington CSG Commander, Rear Adm. Phil Cullom echoed the importance of their cooperative training to the ultimate goal of achieving security in the region.

"While this specific maritime collaboration had a tremendous benefit to the readiness of both our Strike Group and the Canadian Task Group, the greatest benefit to both our Nations is the increased security that results from honing such a strong maritime partnership," Cullom said.

With both exercises successfully completed, Cullom was clearly looking forward to future missions.

"Ultimately, we consider our recent cooperation with the Canadians an excellent kick-off to the extensive training the GW [Carrier] Strike Group will be conducting with numerous hemispheric partners in South America during our upcoming deployment," said Cullom.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Milcom Blog Logs

Thanks to my old friend Jack NeSmith down Florida way for an excellent selection of mil freqs he his monitored in the last few days. If you have an aero or LMR frequency list to share with the Milcom MP readers, drop me a note at the address in the masthead. Of course, if you want to remain anonymous, we can do that also.

250.1250 UNKNOWN A2A
254.3250 ZJX TAYLOR - LO w/125.375
269.2500 ZJX OCALA - LO w/133.325
273.5500 ZJX ST JOHNS - LO w/134.0
275.2000 FLIGHT TEST
278.4000 UNKNOWN A2A
282.2000 ZJX JEKYLL - LO w/124.675
285.6500 ZJX STATES - HI w/126.125
291.7000 ZJX ZEPHYR- UH w/128.425
306.0000 NAS JAX VP-30 OPS
307.2500 ZJX ST AUGUSTINE - LO/HI w/126.35
308.7500 AWACS
314.4500 HAVE QUICK
317.6000 ZJX CEDAR KEY - LO w/135.75
322.4750 ZJX LAKE CITY - HI w/133.875
343.0000 125FW
346.2500 ZJX GREEN COVE - HI w/127.475
352.0000 ZJX TALLAHASSEE - LO (QPE) w/127.8
360.7000 ZJX MAYO- HI w/125.175
360.8000 ZJX GENEVA- HI w/125.05
364.2000 NORAD AICC
372.2000 A/C W/MACDILL AFB

Abraham Lincoln Heading Towards SoCal

Attention SoCalMilcom readers: The USS Abraham Lincoln left Naval Station Everett in Washington state March 13, enroute to San Diego, and then bound for the Persian Gulf.
Full report in the video below.

If you want a pop up view lick on USS Abraham Lincoln

Joint basing plan takes shape

by Michael Briggs,Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Joint basing is a reality, it's happening in San Antonio, and it will effectively support the city's military communities here.

That is the message from local military leaders as they move toward consolidating support operations at three San Antonio installations as mandated by the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

Under the BRAC joint basing plan, installation support functions at the Army's Fort Sam Houston will combine with those at Randolph and Lackland Air Force bases to form what could be the largest base organization in the Department of Defense when actions are completed by 2011.

San Antonio is one of 12 locations worldwide where DOD sites are combining to form joint bases. The Air Force is the executive agent for joint basing in San Antonio.

"Our goal is to create a joint basing command that provides outstanding support to the mission commanders and the people who work, live and train at our installations," said Dr. Clarence E. Maxwell, deputy director of the San Antonio Integration Office. SAIO is responsible for oversight of the 2005 BRAC program in San Antonio.

He said current planning involves comparing how various services are being provided today with the intent to identify and apply the best alternatives in the future.

The implementation plan calls for stand up of a joint base wing with initial operating capability by January 2010, and with full operating capability by October 2010.

More than 40 support functions will combine to form the joint base wing, which a brigadier general will command, with three subordinate support groups, one at each San Antonio installation, Dr. Maxwell said.

Those functions include command support operations like safety and public affairs, and natural and built environment functions such as public works (also known as civil engineering) and housing.

Other functions aligning under the joint base wing include community services and morale programs, such as police, fire, chapel, youth activities, lodging and dining facilities, and resource functions like supply, transportation, finance and information technology.

A lot of planning and analysis must still take place to make the joint base a reality, but Air Force and Army leaders and functional working groups have been meeting regularly to ensure they keep progress on track.

"Locally, we have established a Joint Basing Integration Office led by a colonel," Dr. Maxwell said. "The office is staffed by full-time Air Force and Army members supported by a few contract personnel. This staff has been working hard to develop the plans to get us to full operational capability."

The JBIO team has trained more than 240 employees from the three installations in how to create a memorandum of agreement, or MOA, that will provide the framework for joint basing operations, said Col. Vincent Feck, chief of the JBIO.

The colonel said the next steps in the process involve drafting the MOA by May and then evaluating the effectiveness of the MOA this summer.

The ultimate goal for the JBIO team is to make the changeover to the joint base as seamless as possible, Colonel Feck said.

"Where there is change, we will communicate it, but we really want the transition to be transparent to the customer," he said.

Employees in the support functions should know their jobs are secure, Dr. Maxwell said.

"I think people's greatest concerns are whether they will lose their jobs or have to move," he said. "On the installations, I frankly do not see jobs being eliminated or moved. We will need just as many support personnel tomorrow as we have today. In fact, we believe we will need more. We will be creating some new positions and people may desire to apply for these positions, so there could be some voluntary moves, but I do not foresee involuntary moves."

Since the Air Force is the agent establishing the joint base in San Antonio, civilians whose jobs end up in the joint base wing will become Air Force employees.

"I made that move recently myself," Dr. Maxwell said. "I am of the opinion employees will see little difference."

To ensure people have the opportunity to get all the information they need about joint basing, the integration team will hold town hall meetings and other forums within the San Antonio military community. The SAIO Web site also will include joint basing updates and information.

Milcom Blog Online Poll #4

We have concluded our fourth online poll conducted last week here on the Milcom Monitoring Post and here are the results of that electronic poll.

What type of antenna do you use on your milair scanner?

Beam Antenna 6 (7%)
Discone Antenna 47 (61%)
Ground Plane 16 (20%)
Active Antenna 1 (1%)
Rubber Duck Antenna 14 (18%)

We had 77 voters. Thanks to all who participated.

Friday, March 14, 2008

USS Jefferson City Returns Home

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea J. Kennedy, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific
Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) returns to homeport in Point Loma, Calif., after a six-month Western Pacific deployment. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Cale Bentley (Released)

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Jefferson City (SSN 759) returned home to Naval Base Point Loma, March 10, after a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

The submarine conducted a number of missions throughout the Western Pacific region. Sailors also enjoyed port visits to Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, Guam and Saipan.

"It's great to be home; everyone is really excited," said Cmdr. John Zimmerman, Jefferson City commanding officer. "The guys have worked really hard the last six months. Nothing beats coming back to San Diego and being with our families."

Zimmerman added that the crew experienced many challenges, including navigating through a hurricane, but the well-trained crew succeeded in every mission.

There was a large crowd of friends and family waving flags and holding signs to greet their Sailors marching down the pier in formation.

"It's hard. There are days that you want to cry," said the wife of Sonar Technician (Submarine) 3rd Class (SS) Francisco Munoz. "What he's doing is amazing. I don't know very many people that have the courage to actually go out there and do things like this."

Sea Sparrow Test conducted onboard "America's Big Stick"

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Erik K. Siegel, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) test-fires a RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile from the ship's port aft launcher. The NATO Sea Sparrow missile system (NSSMS) is used for air defense. The aircraft carrier is under way conducting carrier qualifications. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Laird (Released)

USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (TR) (CVN 71) tested the NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System March 4.

As an unmanned drone flew toward TR a RIM-7 (ship-launched, intercept-aerial, guided-missile) Sea Sparrow was launched and exploded above it, shredding the drone and sending its remains into the ocean.

"We targeted an incoming drone, successfully hit it and it crashed down into the water," said Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Anthony T. Anania, leading petty officer of Combat Systems 7 division.

The RIM-7 is capable of delivering a 90 pound warhead and is one of the primary shipboard defensive weapon systems currently in-use by not only the U.S. Navy, but several other NATO countries.

"The Sea Sparrow is important to the defense of the ship," said Anania. "The Sea Sparrow is primarily an anti-missile missile, but it can disable aircraft or missiles, basically anything that flies."

This exercise was a significant milestone in TR's pre-deployment preparations, and provided key training and certifications.

"If we had to go out next month into the Gulf and do it all over again we definitely could," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class James C. Gass. "We'll be able to do great. We hit the drone with our first missile, and that's really good."

The Combat Direction Center (CDC) prepared for the test using live aircraft to simulate incoming missiles, according to Lt. Cmdr. Dan Nichols, TR's Senior Tactical Action Officer (TAO). The team practiced exactly how they were going to engage the incoming drone during the missile exercise.

In addition to aircraft, the CDC used an onboard simulator to give watchstanders a realistic training environment in preparation for the exercise so they had their procedures down perfectly. When the drone started its inbound run from 20 nautical miles away, there was not a lot of time to figure everything out, and CDC wanted to handle the situation correctly and accurately on the first try.

"Three weeks ago when we started putting this together, there was a lot of disconnection," said Lt. Craig A. Rosen, of TR's Operations Department. "We had to bring in a lot of information from all over the place. We really came together as a team. We created all of the briefs, we created a product that we thought the captain would be happy with and we felt like we could conduct a safe exercise. In the end, it all worked out."

Commanded by Capt. Ladd Wheeler, USS Theodore Roosevelt is the centerpiece of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRSCG). The TRSCG is preparing for a scheduled deployment later this year.

USS Cleveland: Afloat Forward Staging Base in the Gulf

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Grant P. Ammon, USS Cleveland Public Affairs

PERSIAN GULF (NNS) -- Amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland (LPD 7) completed first-time Interaction Patrols (IPATS) by integrating the use of a landing craft utility (LCU) with air assets during a recent series of exercises in the Persian Gulf.

IPATS are an element of Maritime Security Operations (MSO) which help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the coalition's efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

Cleveland, operating as an afloat forward-staging base, demonstrated the ability to direct multiple IPATs using its visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams on maritime security missions while effectively maintaining command and control of aircraft. Utilizing an embarked landing craft utility (LCU) from Amphibious Assault Craft Unit 1 (ACU 1), Cleveland's VBSS teams deployed from the smaller, more maneuverable landing craft.

The afloat forward staging base concept had its origins in the Chief of Naval Operations' SeaPower 21 and sea-basing initiative. Its focus was the use of a forward- staged seagoing platform to rapidly and efficiently meet the U.S. Marine Corps' future requirements and to support joint forces' ability to launch combat power from the sea.

"Using the LCU as a staging area, increases sustainability and decreases stationing time of a VBSS team," said Ensign Zachary Keller, Cleveland's VBSS coordinator and lead boarding officer. "Working aviation assets into the IPAT equation improves our capabilities tremendously."

Traditionally staged and coordinated from surface combatants, VBSS teams are normally deployed on rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB). Deploying from an LCU, allows the VBSS team to conduct longer patrols, increasing the number of vessels queried.

"The LCU was able to reach areas previously inaccessible due to Cleveland's size," said Keller. "We start our missions from the sea instead of the ship."

VBSS teams that would normally deploy for several hours before having to recover could continue patrolling for nearly the whole day, stopping at the LCU for food, equipment and supplies.

The ship's aircraft were marshalled and controlled from LCU, a first in VBSS operations. The employment of air resources increases the VBSS team's efficiency by minimizing response times, said Keller.

"Our boarding teams had direct communication with our air assets during the operations," said Keller. "Using air assets to direct our VBSS teams toward merchant and fishing traffic reduced the amount of time we spent finding contacts and allowed for more time to conduct interaction patrols."

Coordinating air assets aboard the LCU adds VBSS teams extra security and assistance in the search, classification, and identification of vessels in operating areas.

"Our efforts to improve our maritime patrol procedures aims to minimize maritime crime and harassment in the region," said Capt. Billy Hart, Cleveland's commanding officer. "Ultimately, these efforts will bolster security and stability in the region. We experimented with this new concept, along with Destroyer Squadron 26, proving the concept and then putting the pieces into motion. It boosts efficiency and may become the standard for maritime security patrols."

Cleveland is part of the USS Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group and is currently conducting operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. The flexibility and capability of U.S. and coalition forces make them well positioned to respond to any potential emergent situations. Through operations and training with regional partners, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet forces enhance existing cooperative relationships with an aim to support regional countries' struggles against violent extremism.

Nimitz Soars into Foal Eagle

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremiah Sholtis, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) leads Carrier Strike Group 11 and several Republic of Korea ships in formation while participating in Exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2008 (KR/FE 08). KR/FE 08 is an annual joint exercise involving forces from the United States and the Republic of Korea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Pol Sebastian Gocong (Released)

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is participating in a joint training exercise designed to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. alliance.

Exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2008 is also designed to enhance combat readiness of ROK and U.S. supporting forces through combined and joint training.

"Foal Eagle is a vitally important exercise that reinforces our long-standing relationship with the Koreans," said Chief Operations Specialist (SW) Ian Kelley, Tactical Flag Command Center leading chief petty officer. "It also enhances our interoperability with a key ally."

One of Foal Eagle's main purposes is to train Sailors and Marines in the event something should happen that would require the U.S. and ROK navies to work together to resolve a conflict, said Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Jeremiah Lockhart, Nimitz' combat direction center leading petty officer.

"The two biggest goals are the reinforcement of the strategic relationship we have with South Korea and the enhancement of our ability to operate together as navies," said Kelley. "Ultimately, the goal is to be in perfect lock-step with each other.

"Although we do things similarly, we don't do them exactly the same," added Kelley. "When we're talking about an entirely different navy, we have to spend a lot of time planning and ensuring that each of us understands how the other is going to conduct operations and respond to threats."

Five years later, it's still known as 'Mother of all bombs'

by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary, 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The guided bomb unit-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb sits at an air base in Southwest Asia waiting to be used should it become necessary. The MOAB is also called the "Mother of all bombs" by scientists and the community alike. (Courtesy photo)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE. Fla. (AFPN) -- What's worse than unleashing on society the wrath of the largest non-nuclear bomb yet to be made? Letting the world know it's out there and ready to be used at any moment.

The guided bomb unit-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb is a 21,600 pound, Global Positioning System-guided munition with precision guidance and architecture to be delivered accurately to enemy forces with the main intention of permanently disabling them. The goal was to put pressure on then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to cease and desist United Nations violations.

"The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates," said then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a March 2003 interview. "Short of that -- an unwillingness to cooperate -- the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition."

While the history books have well-documented the day of MOAB's final day of testing -- March 11, 2003 at 1 p.m. a huge mushroom cloud could be seen from 20 miles away -- much of the design and ramp up for producing it have been little talked about.

The MOAB, nicknamed the "Mother of all bombs," was rapidly produced in-house by Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate officials at Eglin Air Force Base. It started out simply as an idea and quickly made its way to the lab for prototype production. The request came during Thanksgiving 2002 and was originally designed as a replacement for the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter. One unique characteristic would later define the MOAB from the Daisy Cutter: It was satellite guided or a "smart bomb."

"We were asked to generate a prototype and we were asked to work out the bugs so that it might evolve into something that could be produced (for the warfighter)," said Robert Hammack, the AFRL Munitions Directorate Munitions Fabrication Facility (or model factory) team chief.

When the model shop was first tasked with the bringing the idea to reality, the lead model maker, Joseph Fellenz, made many of the parts himself and helped solve the fabrication issue associated with bringing the prototype to a full-scale operational munition. Also on the project was Al Weimorts, the late creator of the BLU-82.

"Every technical glitch or roadblock we encountered was worked out by Al," Mr. Hammack said. "Our team was filled with engineers and other people with deeply important skill sets necessary to pull this off."

The reason this project remains so significant to the model shop workers is it was the first project they were not only asked to focus on solely proving theories but implementing them into reality.

"The shop was filled with such excitement and the morale immediately went up," Mr. Hammack said. "The enthusiasm went through the roof and we went on two 10-hour shifts a day until the project was completed."

The model shop crew was given carte blanch to get the prototype built and that included selecting the people they needed to get the project rolling.

"When this project came to us, everyone immediately came on board," Mr. Hammack said. "Many people willingly came out of retirement for the chance to work on MOAB because it was a chance to work on something different -- a cradle-to-grave project."

Unlike any project before or since, the model shop was solely responsible for coordinating the logistics on material acquirement and engineering the new munition. It was designed, built, tested and refined all in one location.

After each weapon was assembled, it was individually loaded onto a rented flatbed truck, secured and covered by tarps. The munition was then transported to the Naval Ammunition Depot at McAllister, Okla., where it was filled with explosive materials and painted and catalogued for the inventory.

"A little known fact is why the MOAB is green," said Mr. Hammack. "Since we were in such a rush to get the weapon into our inventory to send over to aid the war effort, resources were limited. The weekend the MOAB arrived, the only color available in the amount we needed was John Deere green."

The 16-hour expedition was a sensitive undertaking -- one which saw the drivers making the trip in one long haul stopping only for gas.

"Once I was stopped by a Texas State Trooper who was curious about our cargo and wanted a peek," he said. "Apparently he had stopped one of our drivers the week before and had some idea of what we were carrying."

Once the television networks broadcast the detonation, the American public became very supportive of the drivers' long hauls.

"We started getting thumbs up by passersby on the highway," Mr. Hammack said.

Five years later, the event is remembered more with a sense of awe and sense of unequaled accomplishment.

"At the time we didn't think too much of what we were doing other than our job and aiding in the war effort," he said. "After we delivered the weapons, it soon became clear the magnitude of our efforts -- what we had actually helped create."

Patriots come in all shapes and sizes. Their contributions; however, understated at the time, can send ripples felt throughout the world -- even if the contribution is the largest non-nuclear weapon in the Air Force inventory yet to be used.

"The most amazing thing about MOAB is it's the most powerful bomb ever built and has done its job -- deterring the enemy -- simply because they know about it," Mr. Hammack said.

The first MOAB was delivered into the operational theater for the war on terrorism April 1, 2003. To date, none have been used in combat.