Latest Naval & Maritime Happenings Around the World
PRINCETON CELEBRATES 19TH BIRTHDAY
The guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) celebrated its 19th birthday 11 February while at sea during a regularly scheduled deployment. The celebration kicked off with a cake-cutting ceremony performed in the traditional Navy style as new salts and old salts came together. The ceremony was followed by games held on the mess decks.
The oldest sailor on board, Chief Boatswain’s Mate (SW) Michael Scinta, teamed up with the youngest sailor on board, Seaman Raul Benitez, to cut the cake. More than 38-yrs in age and 20-yrs of service separate the two sailors.
Scinta and Princeton also have something in common; they share the same birthday. Before cutting the cake, Scinta addressed the crew.
“I hope all of you live to be 56, and I hope all of you enjoy your Navy career as much as I have,” said Scinta.
For Benitez, who has recently checked aboard Princeton, it was a honor to cut the cake. “It’s an honor… since I’ve only been on board for two weeks,” said Benitez. “It’s a nice welcome aboard.”
The two sailors were joined by the ship’s mascot – a tiger – the ship’s most junior officer, Ens. Jeremiah Batista. He livened up the celebration with some mascot shenanigans shortly after the cake cutting and paved the way for a fun night on the mess decks.
“For the spirit of the ship and its crew, it’s important to take time to relax and celebrate these events,” said L/Cmdr. Tom Moninger, Princeton’s executive officer.
Homeported in San Diego, Princeton is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG). The Nimitz CSG, is comprised of Commander, CSG 11, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Nimitz; its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11; embarked Destroyer Squadron 23; the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59); the guided-missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), USS Higgins (DDG-76), and USS Chafee (DDG-90); Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light HSL 49 Scorpions, (HSL) 37 Easy Riders; and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11.
CVW-11’s squadrons include the Tophatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14, the Black Aces of VFA-41, the Sunliners of VFA-81, the Wallbangers of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117, the Red Devils of Marine Corps Strike Fighter Squadron 232, the Black Ravens of Electronic Warfare Squadron 135, the Providers of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the Indians of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6.
The Nimitz is now operating as part of the US 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. The 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed US fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 sailors and marines assigned at any given time.
NAVY AWARDS CONTRACTS FOR ZUMWALT-CLASS DESTROYERS
The Navy has exercised contract modifications for the construction of the dual lead ships of the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. DDG-1000 and DDG-1001 are the lead ships of a class of next-generation multi-mission surface combatants tailored for landattack and littoral dominance.
BIW was awarded a $1.4-billion cost-plus contract for the construction of DDG-1000, and NGSB was awarded a $1.4-billion cost-plus contract for construction of DDG-1001. The Navy and industry are using a thorough design-for-producibility process to pursue every opportunity to reduce cost on the DDG-1000-class without reducing key performance parameters. The Navy’s dual lead-ship strategy has reduced cost and encouraged collaboration. This approach will give the Navy information and modifications for future acquisition strategy decisions, and also addresses congressional concerns regarding maintaining the industrial base.
“When you look at DDG-1000, the technology is extraordinary,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. “It is unique in that we have never tried to bring online so many new technologies, but the steps that have been taken and the investments that have been made have reduced the risk that is normally associated with new technology. The Zum walt-class of ships is really quite impressive.”
DDG-1000 has been in design, development and demonstration for almost six-years. The Navy has successfully, on cost and on schedule, built and tested the ten critical technologies that provide the capabilities future ships need. The ship’s detail design effort is also on cost and on schedule, and will be more complete at the start of construction next year than any other previous surface warship. This achievement is a testament to the close cooperation between both shipyards, and also between the Navy and industry.
DDG-1000 will triple Naval surface fires coverage as well as tripling capability against anti-ship cruise missiles. DDG-1000 has a 50-fold radar cross section reduction compared to current destroyers, improves strike group defense ten-fold and has ten times the operating area in shallow water regions against mines. For today’s warfighter, DDG-1000 fills an immediate and critical Naval-warfare gap, meeting validated Marine Corps fire support requirements.
MAKIN ISLAND SAILORS PREPARE WORLD WAR II SUB FOR BIG SCREEN
Sailors from the Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Makin Island (LHD-8) continued to restore one of the oldest existing US submarines at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama, 30 January in order to prepare the World War II-era vessel for its appearance in an upcoming film.
Fire Controlman 1C (SW/AW) Jonathan Davis and Fire Controlman 1C (SW/AW) Levi Miller took the lead on the restoration project several months ago after hearing that the decommissioned USS Drum (SS-228), which sank 15 Japanese ships during World War II, would be used for filming in March 2008.
“It’s rewarding to help return a World War II vessel to its original seagoing condition – especially since there is only one worker and volunteer working at the moment,” Davis said.
When the pair found that there was little funding for repairs and only one staff member assigned to maintaining Drum, they led a group of Makin Island sailors in donating their time to bring the submarine back to her former glory through sanding, painting, and general cleaning so the whole world might see the submarine in a way that no one has in more than 30-years.
“I wanted to contribute my time and energy to restore a historical piece of our military and assist my community,” said Information Systems Technician 2C George Kraynak, one of the Drum volunteers assigned to Makin Island. “I found the experience very rewarding and would recommend anyone to donate some of their time and come out to see a piece of history.”
Makin Island is currently under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems with a planned delivery date to the US Navy of 14 November 2008.
ARCTIC GIVES SURFACE WARRIORS CHILLY RECEPTION
Scott Fry gets a chill when he recalls operating in the Arctic during the coldest part of the Cold War.
During February and March of 1985, when the Cold War was a cold, hard fact of life, Fry’s ship, USS McCloy (FF-1038), joined with several other ships to operate east of Greenland and north of Iceland to determine how well towed arrays performed in detecting submarines under the ice.
“McCloy would go up to the Arctic Circle as part of an anti-submarine exercise called Arctic SHAREM,” he said. “The crew called it Arctic Scare ’em.”
A US nuclear-powered attack submarine was on station under ice. Along with McCloy was destroyer USS Spruance (DD-963), along with frigates USS Aylwin (FF-1085) and USS Blakely (FF-1072). They were accompanied by Coast Guard icebreaker Northwind and USS Milwaukee (AOR-2). P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft operated in support of the task group from the Naval Air Station at Keflavik, Iceland.
The task group was well equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Spruance had the AN/SQS-53 Rubber Window sonar. Aylwin and Blakelyboth had the SQS-26, the SQR-18 Tactical Towed Array Sonar System (TACTASS). McCloy, a small frigate, had big ASW capability which included the SQR-15 broadband towed array sonar.
“We believed the USSR had ballistic missile submarines patrolling under the ice,” said Fry. “The purpose of SHAREM was to see if we could find them with the long ranges we could get using our towed arrays.”
The marginal ice zone (MIZ) is that area near the solid ice cover where the ice breaks up and drifts away from or back to the ice cap depending on the wind. The MIZ is a dangerous place for ships. When the wind blows off the ice, the broken ice drifts to sea often accompanied by “sea smoke,” caused by evaporation fog formed when very cold air drifts across relatively warmer water. When the wind shifted back toward the ice cap, the ice would drift back against the shelf.
If a wind shift was detected while the “tail” or towed array was “wet” and the ship was next to the MIZ, an immediate course change to seaward was required. I’m fogged in, looking at pieces of ice as big as a school bus. I’m towing a mile-long array behind me. It takes nearly a half hour just to turn 90-degrees using very small rudder increments, so I can head towards open water and recover the tail.”
To prepare for Arctic operations, Fry says the McCloy crew balanced the heating, ventilation and air condition system so it was as good as new. “The HVAC worked so well that inside it was 69 beautiful degrees, and outside it was minus 14 or 20.”
McCloy was notorious for having a bad ride, but when top heavy with ice accumulation, the ride was much worse. Fry’s crew had a regular routine to go topside and break off the heavy ice. “Before we left homeport, we went to every Little League in the Tidewater area to ask for their broken bats,” Fry recalls. “We had a big supply of bats and wooden mallets by the time we arrived up north. We divided the topside spaces into six zones, each with a team assigned. The teams, and all topside watchstanders, had immersion suits and a climber safety device. We rigged heavy weather lifelines so crewmembers could attach themselves to the lifelines while chipping away ice accumulation. We would never have more than one team topside at any given time. No one was allowed outside the skin of the ship without the OODs knowledge and permission. We maintained a status board on the bridge, so we knew what zones needed attention, and exactly who was topside at any given time.”
Sometimes the Ice Accumulation Details could finish their zone in a half hour or so. “Sometimes they were out there a lot longer,” says Fry.
The seawater injection temperature was 22-deg (F), and covered sea chests and intakes in the main spaces with ice. “The ocean next to the MIZ was like a slurpee,” Fry says. In the normally hot main spaces, the boiler technicians and machinist’s mates needed foul-weather jackets.
As for avoiding the worst of the winds and seas, Fry says they relied on Optimum Ship Track Routing (OTSR). “IfOTSR predicted bad weather and told me to get to safety, I never waited around to see if they were right.”
Fry recalls taking rolls on McCloy up to 62-deg when the task group ignored OTSR’s recommended routing to the east of Iceland and ran into a storm in the Denmark Straits between Iceland and Greenland.
McCloy used special lubricants for all the topside rotating machinery and radar sumps that wouldn’t solidify in the cold. Instead of salt, they carried urea pellets for ice melting.
The environment was “breathtaking,” Fry said. “It would be pitch dark, and suddenly the Northern Lights would erupt in brilliant colors. You could see the sun rise and set on the same watch. You could watch three or four storm fronts approaching from the southern horizon.
Despite the challenges, Fry said nobody got hurt, and there were no cases of frostbite, because the crew planned carefully and took a disciplined approach. “We had a lot of impetus to do this right. If anyone went over the side they were dead.”
USS AUGUSTA INACTIVATED AFTER 23-YEARS OF PROTECTING THE FRONTIER
The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Augusta (SSN-710) conducted an inactivation ceremony at the Naval Submarine Base New London’s Shepherd of the Sea chapel 7 February.
Augusta lived up to its motto, “Protecting the Frontier,” for more than two decades. Most recently, she returned from a six-month deployment to the US European Command’s area of responsibility September 2007, where she completed a wide range of joint requirements supporting national security.
Retired Capt. Thomas Turner, Augusta’s first commanding officer, was the guest speaker and relived his experience in bringing the ship to life. “The feeling as the crew ran aboard at the commissioning was incredible,” said Turner. “The crew is what makes the ship a ship. Everything else is just an empty hull.”
Commander Chad Brown, Augusta’s current commanding officer, expressed his feelings regarding the decommissioning. “Augusta will not be forgotten,” said Brown. “The tradition and spirit of excellence will live on in the sailors who proudly served aboard her.” Numerous plank owners and Augusta Alumni Association members attended the ceremony. The alumni association plans on forming a nonprofit organization to promote the purchase of Augusta’s sail as a memorial for the state of Maine.
“I feel blessed to have been an Augusta crew member,” said Malcolm Milligan, Alumni Association founder. “Our experiences as crew members give us a lot in common and many stories to share, We wish to share those experiences with the residents of Maine.”
Augusta is the fifth ship of the fleet to bear the name Augusta and the first to be named for the capital of the great state of Maine. Others include a 14-gun brigantine commissioned in 1799; a side-wheel steamer that participated in the Union forces capture of Port Royal, North Carolina, in 1861; a motor patrol boat used for maritime patrol of the US coast in World War I; and a heavy cruiser commissioned in 1931 and built specifically as a command ship.
Augusta transited to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Viginia, late in February to commence its inactivation process.
With stealth, persistence, agility and firepower, fast-attack submarines like Augusta are multi-mission capable – able to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary’s military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity and ensure undersea superiority.
Copyright Challenge Publications Inc. May 2008
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