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August 20, 2014 / iDriveWarships

USS Coronado Conducts Integration Exercise with Marines

USS Coronado conducts USMC integration exercise

Last week USS Coronado (LCS 4) demonstrated the ability to rapidly stage and deploy a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) ground unit. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadrons 469 and 303 conducted day and night deck-landing qualifications in preparation for an airborne raid of Marines from the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion onboard USS Coronado.

The ship’s inherent qualities, including speeds in excess of 40 knots, its large flight deck and reconfigurable mission bay, proved that littoral combat ships (LCS) can provide the Navy and USMC with significant operational flexibility anywhere in the world.

Independence-variant LCS’ offer a variety of air and small-boat employment and delivery options for USMC ground and air tactical units, and ample space to embark a small USMC ground unit—even with an embarked mission module. On this platform, UH-1Y and AH-1W helicopter operations are fully supportable.

August 13, 2014 / iDriveWarships

Surface Line Week 2014 Underway in San Diego

Surface Line Week 2014 bowling competition

The 33rd annual Surface Line Week (SLW) competition kicked off in San Diego this week, beginning with a sailing competition around the San Diego Bay.

Sponsored by the staff of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, SLW runs through Aug. 15, and includes a variety of professional and athletic competitions for Surface Sailors. The winning commands will be recognized during the Surface Warrior Ball, the culmination of SLW.

Last year, USS Essex (LHD 2) took first place in the overall large command category, USS Spruance (DDG 111) won among medium-sized commands, and Naval Base San Diego received the small command trophy.

Professional events included this year in SLW are cake decorating, a damage control marathon, lathe work, marksmanship, medical diagnosis/stretcher bearer race, moboards, photo competition, rescue swimming, a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat race, sailing, seamanship, shiphandling, valve packing, visual communications, and welding and cutting.

SLW athletic competitions included a 5K run, basketball, billiards, bowling, CrossFit, dodgeball, flag football, golf, and push-up/pull-up endurance. There will also be a chili cook-off and a homemade salsa contest on the final day of competition.

August 7, 2014 / iDriveWarships

Rowden Takes Command of SURFOR

SURFOR change of command ceremony

While onboard USS Coronado (LCS 4) today, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman was relieved by Vice Adm. Tom Rowden as Commander Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) and Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, was the guest speaker during the ceremony that also served as Copeman’s retirement following a successful 32-year naval career.

Copeman’s leadership as SURFOR directly improved training and professional development for the Surface Force by implementing of the Basic Division Officers Course (BDOC). BDOC shifted the focus of training for new Surface Warfare Officers by applying knowledge gained from shipboard experience with classroom and applied instruction. During his tenure, he prepared USS Freedom (LCS 1) for the first deployment of a littoral combat ship to the Asia-Pacific region. He also promoted the use of energy-based weapons and computer-based training.

Rowden assumes command of SURFOR with extensive experience, including sea duty tours as commanding officer of USS Milius (DDG 69); reactor officer on USS George Washington (CVN 73); commander of Destroyer Squadron 60; commander of Carrier Strike Group Seven; and commander of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Strike Group. Most recently, he served as the Director of Surface Warfare Division (N96) on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff.

SURFOR is responsible for the readiness of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, littoral combat ships, mine countermeasures ships, and logistics and fleet support ships.

August 5, 2014 / iDriveWarships

USS Mobile Bay Carries a Legacy of Presence from 150 Years Ago

By Capt. Timothy Kott, Commanding Officer of USS Mobile Bay (CG 53)

It was 150 years ago today when a legendary admiral was lashed to his ship’s rigging to guide the steam sloop USS Hartford through a gauntlet of mines and gunfire from ship and shore, bellowing, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!”

Presence mattered that day when Rear Adm. David Farragut‘s fleet of 18 ships—including four ironclads—sailed into Mobile Bay, Ala., the last Gulf Coast port held by the confederates. Although the battle only lasted three hours; taking the heavily fortified port cost Farragut dearly, with the loss of USS Tecumseh and her 100 Sailors alone. But in the end it was the presence of Farragut’s fleet—in the right place at the right time—that put an end to the Confederate Navy and closed down the last of its ports.

As it was on the Gulf Coast 150 years ago, presence matters today. In fact, it can be argued it’s even more important today as American interests span the globe. So the crew of USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) is proud to carry on the legacy of Adm. Farragut and his Sailors as part of America’s globally deployed navy.

Fresh from an eight-month Selected Restricted Availability (SRA), Mobile Bay will rejoin the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group and deploy in the fall of 2015, offering commanders a wide range of presence, humanitarian and combat options including land, sea and air supremacy.

The navy’s continued presence in the Pacific is necessary to build relationships that ensure America’s safety today and tomorrow. In preparing for the Pacific Fleet deployment, Mobile Bay is committed to improving the relationships between nations and organizations to achieve a common goal: the stability and security of the Pacific region. Mobile Bay’s presence will ensure sea lanes remain open and safe for trade, democracy and peace around the world.

Make no mistake about it, this ship remains a technologically advanced warfighting platform—we have the tools to succeed—but the most crucial element to mission accomplishment is the crew of Mobile Bay. The ship’s more than 360 outstanding Sailors will build on their past training and experience, developing and honing the skills necessary for mission accomplishment. The crew understands and takes seriously their pivotal role as ambassadors, allies and warfighters, and acknowledges that when the world sees Sailors, they are seeing the United States.

Just like Adm. Farragut’s fleet from so long ago; USS Mobile Bay continues working toward deployment, being prepared to respond to crises, standing by to protect the maritime interests of the U.S., its allies and partners, and guided by a crew that embodies the elements that assured victory for Union naval forces in that pivotal moment of the Civil War.

August 1, 2014 / iDriveWarships

RIMPAC Concludes with Enhanced Cooperation among 22 Nations

42 ships and submarines from 15 international partner nations maneuve into a close formation during RIMPAC 2014

After five weeks, the world’s largest international maritime exercise concluded today in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 training syllabus included amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises, as well as military medicine, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, counter-piracy, diving and salvage operations, mine clearance operations, and explosive ordnance disposal.

RIMPAC 2014 marked the first time that Japan led the scenario-driven humanitarian assistance/disaster relief response portion of the exercise, which facilitated training and certification for expeditionary forces to respond to foreign disasters as a crisis response adaptive force.

This was the first time Brunei and the People’s Republic of China participated in RIMPAC. Countries that sent a ship for the first time to participate in 2014 included Colombia, India, Indonesia and Norway. This year also marked the first time hospital ships participated in RIMPAC. The Chinese hospital ship, Peace Ark, and USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted medical evacuation and mass casualty training, personnel exchanges and military medicine exchanges.

Participating nations at RIMPAC 2014 demonstrated the flexibility of maritime forces to meet regional and global challenges for mutual benefit.

July 25, 2014 / iDriveWarships

USS San Diego Departs on Maiden Deployment

USS San Diego (LPD 22) departed her namesake city today on the ship’s maiden deployment with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group to the U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet Areas of Operation.

The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response, as well as supporting the Navy’s Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); as well as amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45); and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22).

July 15, 2014 / iDriveWarships

Sailing America: Beginning of newest amphibious assault ship’s legacy on sea

Sailors assigned to the future USS America man the rails as the ship departs Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. for its maiden voyage.

By Command Master Chief Chad Lunsford, Future USS America (LHA 6)

As the command master chief of the U.S. Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship, I’ve been aboard the ship since the future USS America (LHA 6) was first introduced as a pre-commissioning unit (PCU). I often get asked what it means to be part of a PCU, and honestly, this journey has been incredibly rewarding and a career highlight.

Pre-commissioning units start with a few key leadership roles and they slowly grow over time. In our case—just two years ago—there were only 26 America crew members, and today America stands close to 1,100 members strong. The beginning phases were mostly critical schools that can take more than six months to complete.

As the time got closer to our move aboard date on April 10, (the date the Navy took custody of the ship) and the ship’s Sailors and Marines officially moved aboard, we started gaining more Sailors. In the two months prior to move aboard, the command gained close to 450 Sailors, which was a logistical challenge to say the least.

Once the America crew moved aboard and began living on the ship, we’ve spent the last three months away from our families. We’ve worked very long hours, including most weekends, to train for what most ships complete over the course of a year or more. We’re required to train and certify in every warfare area that existing ships certify in; however, the difference is America did all this while operating in a shipyard. The greatest challenge of a pre-commissioning unit is bringing together 1,100 individuals from various commands throughout the fleet and building one team.

Now that we are certified and safe to sail, we are prepared to get underway as a crew for the very first time. It’s an amazing day for everyone who has been involved in America’s pre-commissioning process. To witness our Sailors and Marines come together as one team and bring a ship to life is like no other experience in the world. We’ll begin our transit from the shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., around South America, to our new homeport of San Diego. Once we arrive in San Diego, we’ll begin preparing for our commissioning ceremony in San Francisco on Oct. 11.

America will bring a different set of unique capabilities to the strategic table for the Navy. We have increased aviation capabilities and communication centers to quickly move larger groups of Marines and their equipment to locations throughout the globe. We are designed specifically with the MV-22 Osprey and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in mind, and have the capabilities to sustain longer air operations.

In my opinion, there is no greater reward than to take a group of 1,100 individuals from commands spread throughout the fleet and develop a team of warfighters who are ready to answer our nation’s call. I’m impressed daily with the hard work, motivation and professionalism of our Sailors and Marines—America’s sons and daughters. I am proud to be part of America – “Our Ship, Our Country!”

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