The unveiling of pre-commissioning unit Milwaukee (LCS 5)’s official ship crest took place in both San Diego and its namesake city of Milwaukee, Wis. today. Scheduled to be commissioned in early 2015, Milwaukee is the fifth ship in the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class.
In the city of Milwaukee, prospective commanding officer of LCS Crew 111, Cmdr. Michael Brasseur, presented the unveiling of the LCS 5 crest, alongside the Mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett; the City Manager; and various community members and business leaders.
In San Diego where LCS crews are undergoing training, Cmdr. Hank Kim, commanding officer of LCS Crew 104 currently embarked on USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), also unveiled the crest to LCS Crew 111 and LCS Crew 104, which will be the sister crew of Milwaukee upon commissioning.
The design of the crest began with graphic artist Christine Adams, wife of prospective executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. David Adams. Inputs were taken from both crews, as well as Milwaukee residents, and additional assistance was provided by the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“We believe the design is a true representation of the city of Milwaukee, her people, our crews and our warship,” said Cmdr. Brasseur.
Symbolism of the Milwaukee crest:
The colors dark blue and gold are traditionally associated with the U.S. Navy, and are prominently displayed throughout the seal. The crest also features the colors celeste and azure. Celeste represents the waters of Lake Michigan where the City of Milwaukee is located.
Two lightning bolts highlight the ship’s high speed capability and state-of-the-art electronics. The anchor has a gear wheel hub which is taken from the City of Milwaukee flag, and has five exposed notches to indicate that this is the fifth naval vessel named after the City.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is centered between two wheat stalks. The landmark is familiar to the area skyline and is a symbol of the city’s future. The wheat stalks denote the growth and vitality of the city of Milwaukee.
The crossed sword and cutlass pointing downwards symbolize the teamwork and cooperation demonstrated by the war team of USS Milwaukee.
The ship’s motto is inscribed in dark blue swallowtail scroll with two gold stars on either end, reading “strength freedom” in gold letters. The motto “strength” and “freedom” emphasize the devotion and spirit of the City of Milwaukee. On the centerfold, a gold star with the year “1846” is written in blue letters to signify the year Milwaukee was founded. Finally, the five stars denote that this is the fifth ship in the LCS class.
After completing an 11-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), Mine Countermeasures Ship USS Pioneer (MCM 9) was offloaded from heavy-lift ship, MV Super Servant 3 at Naval Base San Diego this week.
In addition to Pioneer, three other San Diego-based MCMs departed Southern California last year in response to a request from U.S. Central Command for additional mine countermeasures assets in the theater.
USS Devastator (MCM 6) and USS Sentry (MCM 3) remain deployed to 5th Fleet and will participate in International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) 2013 this month. USS Warrior (MCM 10) completed a 5th Fleet deployment and was heavy-lifted from Bahrain with Pioneer in March. Warrior was delivered to her new homeport of Sasebo, Japan as the replacement for the decommissioned USS Guardian (MCM 5), and is currently assigned to U.S. 7th Fleet in support of mine warfare missions.
While in 5th Fleet, Pioneer conducted mine warfare operations and exercises—including the first IMCMEX in September 2012, and training mineshape recovery operations in the Gulf of Aden.
Pioneer will remain in San Diego to meet U.S. 3rd Fleet mine warfare mission requirements.
By Cmdr. Joel G. Stewart, commanding officer of USS Anchorage (LPD 23)
The amphibious transport dock Anchorage (LPD 23) and her crew of 417 Sailors steamed from her homeport of San Diego, Calif. with 233 Marines assigned to Task Force Denali and nearly 100 Sailors from other ships and pre-commissioning units. Their mission was to sail more than 2,000 miles north by northwest and get the ship to her namesake city for a commissioning ceremony.
Recently the crew has weathered more than open ocean because of budget concerns, unpredictable weather, and an unexpected change of command. As I write this from the commanding officer’s cabin, the night before the ship is commissioned, I am not where I thought I would be two weeks ago, nor did any of the crew. My predecessor in command, Anchorage’s first commanding officer, Capt. Brian Quin, was diagnosed with cancer, a little more than three weeks ago, which required immediate surgery. At a captain’s call that ended with him turning to me, and stating “I am ready to be relieved,” he told the crew what was going on. “This is just like an emergency break away, an accelerated normal process,” he explained. There was not a dry eye to be found.
The ship’s motto, “Nil Fato Relinquimus” translates to “We Leave Nothing to Chance.” That is how the crew was able to accept the change of command and keep focused on our mission. Capt. Quin always spoke to the crew about setting the conditions for success and that if we were relying upon one individual to accomplish our mission, then we have fallen short of our goal. We did not disappoint him when he had to move on, though it pained us to do so. He will be joining us here in Anchorage tomorrow for the ceremony and we could not be more pleased.
Once at sea, we went straight to Camp Pendleton and brought on a landing craft air cushion (LCAC), two Armored Assault Vehicles (AAV) and two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. Then we conducted flight operations for MV-22 Ospreys. After flight ops were complete, we found the duty oiler, USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), topped off our fuel tanks, and then pointed the bow for Alaska.
In preparing for a commissioning ceremony that would proceed no matter what the weather, Anchorage Sailors needed everything in their seabag and then some: full dress blue uniform, peacoat, all-weather coat, gloves, ear muffs, sweater, watchcap, long underwear and warm socks. Not common place items for San Diego Sailors, but they all dug through their garages and storage lockers to make sure everything was packed for this trip. They are ready for this adventure, leaving nothing to chance!
We have three Sailors who are making a port visit to their hometown. Information Systems Technician 1st Class Ashley Faciane, Operations Specialist 2nd Class Gloria Hurtado, and Seaman Cruz Boseman all hail from the Anchorage area and are prominent in the commissioning ceremony. Additionally, we have two crew members, Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Jacinto Ganac and Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jupiter Bongolan, who served on the former Anchorage (LSD 36) until her decommissioning. These special Sailors tie the old and new crews together, as well as the ship with her namesake city.
The Municipality of Anchorage has been fantastic to work with and is very excited to have the crew see the city for which the ship is named. Capt. Quin, Command Master Chief Pete Santos, our Commissioning Coordinator Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Friel, myself, and a few crew had the opportunity to conduct site visits, but most in the crew have never been to Alaska. Those who have not been are very excited, and look forward to bringing their warship to life in the “Last Frontier.”
Ever wonder how meal options are selected for ships in the fleet? How one food brand appears on the mess decks over another? Just like sampling food at Costco before committing to a 5-month supply of it, Sailors are afforded the opportunity to taste samples from various vendors before they’re ordered for the ship.
This week Sailors across the waterfront attended Afloat Training Group (ATG) San Diego Food Service Division’s Quarterly Prime Vendor Food Show/Fair. While sampling food, Sailors filled out forms to rate the different products so they could provide input to their respective Supply Officers (SUPPO). SUPPOs then take this feedback into account when ordering food on behalf of the ship.
This is all part of the process for creating the Navy Standard Core Menu, designed to standardize food service through the Navy fleet, while providing more variety and nutritious choices to Sailors.
As expected, word travels fast when there’s free food for the taking. This was no different as Sailors gathered for a taste of the future fleet.
Freedom transited the Pacific Ocean while making scheduled port visits in Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines.
The ship is currently being operated by Crew 102 (Gold Crew), but will be relieved by Crew 101 midway through deployment later this summer.
Crew 101 (Blue Crew), normally embarked on Freedom, successfully completed critical crew certification aboard its sister ship, USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) on April 16, making them the first LCS crew to take command of multiple LCS ships. This marks the first time Crew 101 has been on a ship other than Freedom, while still keeping with the same variant.
Crew 101 shifted from preparing Freedom for deployment, to completing off-hull training, and then took command of Fort Worth to get underway for certification while operating in a battle group. This allowed Sailors to keep their qualifications up-to-date and watchstanding skills sharp.
Before taking over the ship, Crew 101 trained to familiarize themselves with the differences between ship systems operations. This was beneficial since lessons learned from Freedom influenced improvements for Fort Worth.
An increasing number of Sailors continue to get certified on LCS, and more ship systems certifications are in progress to ensure deployment readiness.
To share information and encourage dialogue about the LCS program, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet hosted an informational panel for chief petty officers at Naval Base San Diego on April 17. Chiefs were encouraged to share knowledge gained with other Sailors along the waterfront and within their respective commands. Afterward, several chiefs stayed for a pierside tour of USS Independence (LCS 2).
The ships and uniforms may change, but returning home to family and friends after long deployments is a timeless tradition. Sailors and families from every generation share the same emotions of anxiousness, excitement and relief when the ship pulls into port. Meet Wendy Gregory as she awaits the return of her husband, Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class (SW) Heath Gregory at Naval Base San Diego. The Gregorys’ daughter was born just hours before his ship, USS Gary (FFG 51), left on deployment six months ago.
Watch and share in the joy of their reunion…
By Lt. Daniel McGrath, USS Essex (LHD 2)
To mark the second anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that struck off the coast of Northern Japan on March 11, 2011, Japanese High School students traveled from their home in Kesennuma to San Diego.
Their mission was to personally thank U.S. Marines and Sailors who assisted them during the relief effort known as Operation Tomodachi (meaning “friends” in Japanese). At Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego, they met with representatives of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as local civilian U.S. and Japanese dignitaries. Speeches were made, memories shared, tokens exchanged, and many tears shed during a simple but powerful ceremony.
Under normal conditions; we live, work and play by the ocean, assuming that its tremendous power will remain a benign force. But when the 9.03 magnitude undersea mega thrust earthquake struck off the coast of Northern Japan, waves up to 133 feet raged ashore, leaving unimaginable devastation and death in their wake. Cars, buildings and people were swept out to sea by the receding waves. Fires raged ashore, causing further devastation and traumatizing the population. Compounding the crisis was the destruction of the coastal Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the fearful prospect of total meltdown of one or more of its reactors when power and cooling systems failed.
U.S. Naval Forces in the region responded as quickly as possible, and numerous ships positioned themselves offshore. Fresh water, food, blankets and medical supplies were flown to coastal areas, and the heavy lift capacity of the Navy was brought to carry equipment to outlying areas for the cleanup effort. One of the largest ships to take part in the operation was USS Essex (LHD 2), then home to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The focus of Essex and the 31st MEU came to be on Oshima Island, where a small force of Marines and Sailors took part in a cleanup effort to restore its harbor. Some of these Marines and Sailors met their Japanese counterparts at the MCRD ceremony for the first time since Operation Tomodachi.
For these Marines and Sailors, a lot has happened in two years. Each of them has deployed again. Some have been to Afghanistan on combat tours and others have deployed on humanitarian assistance and bilateral training missions around Southeast Asia.
It was good to revisit the events of two years ago and to interact with our Japanese friends. It was an affirmation that the U.S. Military is a global force for good. We remain mindful that our Japanese guests continue to live with the effects of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It will likely remain the singularly most powerful event of their lifetimes. We pray that they will successfully continue the patient work of knitting together the fabric of their communities, and rebuilding their homes, businesses, towns and way of life.