Thursday, May 14, 2009

USS Forrest Sherman Returns to Norfolk Following UNITAS

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) completed a three-week underway May 8, one that featured a number of evolutions with partner nation ships and a visit to South Florida for Fleet Week.

The ship left her home port of Norfolk, Va., April 27, steaming first to a rendezvous point with the French Navy frigate FS Forbin (D 620) for a passing exercise (PASSEX), then to UNITAS Gold 2009. UNITAS, the longest running multinational maritime exercise in the world, took place off the coast of Florida with partner navies from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Post at-sea training, the ship was featured among an array of vessels at the Port Everglades Fleet Week 2009 where the ship participated in a number of events and community outreach projects.

On the way home, Forrest Sherman conducted a test of its ship's silencing capabilities and shot an REXTORP —non-detonating training torpedo — as part of a anti-subsurface exercise.

Despite the operations tempo, the ship still worked toward overall preservation, personal qualifications and even had a little shipboard fun.

"I am extremely proud of the way that this ship performed," said Cmdr. Wyatt N. Chidester, Forrest Sherman commanding officer. "There was a lot of tactical maneuvering that came with the exercises and a lot of opportunity to display Navy pride and professionalism during the port visit.

"I think in all aspects, Forrest Sherman Sailors rose to the challenge, learned a lot and enjoyed themselves [at sea and during the Fleet Week]."

For many Forrest Sherman Sailors, the three weeks underway felt like a mini-deployment, at least in the hard work involved, both in port and at sea. But they echoed the sentiments of their commanding officer, in how the experience was both a time to learn and enjoy the many dimensions of Navy life.

"Overall, I was able to gain a lot from this underway period, just in the tactical situations we were a part of and going through the procedures to work with the different ships," said Ensign Marvin J. Jones, the ship's main propulsion officer.

Jones and other junior offers were able to take the conn in a number of different situations of which they do not normally get to be a part, such as leap frogs with ships from the Brazilian and German navies.

Operations Specialist Seaman Stacey J. Longshore had only been on board a month, so the underway operations were a first for her.

"It was a little difficult to keep up at first, but I just jumped in and tried to adjust to what was going on," said Longshore.

Besides the operations, Forrest Sherman Sailors were glad to have been able to make a difference during the port visit to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"I think we did make a difference in their lives," said Interior Communication Electrician Kendale D. Hunter, who participated in a project at a center for disabled people and also a visit to a school. "It makes me feel good knowing that we brought smiles and were able to bring joy to their day."

Forrest Sherman will soon depart soon to support 6th Fleet operations.

The ship is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer based in Norfolk, Va. Her mission is to conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea either independently or as a member of a carrier or expeditionary strike group.