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September 22, 2017 / iDriveWarships

The Framework for Developing Naval Leaders


U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBLITY (June 11, 2010) Newly-promoted petty officers stand in formation during a frocking ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4). Nassau frocked 83 Sailors during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Patrick Gordon/Released) 100611-N-8936G-016

Guest Blog By: Lt. Marissa Legg, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

In January 2017, the chief of naval operations (CNO) released ‘Navy Leader Development Framework,’ outlining his guidance on how the U.S. Navy needs to develop operational and warfighting competence, as well as character through schools, on the job training, and self-guided learning. Following this framework, he sent out a message later in the year outlining an implementation plan that tasked all community leaders to establish strategies and continuums aimed at developing leaders in both the enlisted and officer ranks; up to command senior enlisted and major command levels, respectively.


NORFOLK, Va. (June 9, 2016) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Scott Sears sews on a 3rd class petty officer crow for Hospital Corpman 3rd class Eric Norris during a Tacking on of the Crow frocking ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). Royal Navy and the days of the sail. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Zachariah Grabill/Released) 160609-N-GB113-002

Developing the Petty Officer Leadership Course:
While working to meet the CNO’s tasker, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) staff identified a gap in petty officer leadership training that has existed since the discontinuation of the Navy’s leader development program (NAVLEAD). Currently, junior enlisted Sailors receive the Petty Officer Selectee Leadership Course (POSLC) at their commands prior to being promoted to E4, and then they aren’t required to complete any other formal leadership schools or training until prior to advancing to the rank of chief petty officer and, possibly later, the Senior Enlisted Academy. In order to fill this gap and improve the continuity of competency and character of the Surface Force’s junior enlisted Sailors, CNSP is pursuing the effectiveness of standing up a Petty Officer Leadership Course (POLC).

What is POLC:
The current POLC contains a course of instruction created by the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center (NLEC), with the assistance of CNSP and Afloat Training Group (ATG). In total, there are three different courses, each lasting three days. The courses are the Foundational Leader Development Course, which provides training for seaman; the Intermediate Leader Development Course; which provides training for petty officers 3rd class; and the Advanced Leader Development Course, which performs training for petty officers 2nd class. Each course is designed to touch on topics such as self-awareness, the naval profession, naval leadership, and ethical decision making, with a focus to upcoming leadership positions and expectations. A big difference between this course and POSLC is a dedicated training environment. Sailors come off their ships, enter into a non-attributional environment, and get the opportunity to network with other Sailors in their paygrades from across the waterfront.


ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 2, 2012) Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Daniel Carns, from Seattle, salutes Capt. Thomas Halvorson, commanding officer of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), after being frocked to 2nd class petty officer during a ceremony on the ship’s forecastle. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Armando Gonzales/Released) 121202-N-LV331-060

Specifically for the program’s pilot series, senior enlisted leaders from ATG San Diego, who have received instructor training and qualification, will be conducting the training. There will be four classes of each level, each class with 25 Sailors. In order to attend the class, Sailors are nominated by their command master chief and granted acceptance into the course by CNSP’s Force Master Chief Jason E. Wallis.

Moving forward with POLC:
With the conclusion of each pilot class, lessons learned, as well as student and command feedback will be used to make necessary curriculum and training adjustments prior to the next session. All data will be collected with an eye toward providing a permanent program for the Surface Force in the future, with potential for adoption of practices Navy-wide. The pilot series, delivery of courses and collection of data, will take just shy of one year to complete. The first course begins Oct. 2 with kick-off remarks from Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, Commander Naval Surface Forces.


September 15, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Surface Force Assists After Hurricanes


CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 9, 2017) Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Andy Blessing from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC-22), assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), departs Wasp to provide aid to evacuees as part of first response efforts to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The Department of Defense is supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Irma to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Taylor King/Released) 170909-N-NM806-002

In the midst of what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has labeled as ‘one of the most potentially active hurricane seasons since 2010’, the U.S. Navy Surface Force has mobilized multiple vessels and thousands of Sailors and Marines to support humanitarian and disaster relief (HaDR) operations.

According to the National Weather Service, a hurricane is defined as “an intense tropical weather system with well-defined circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher” and is measured on a scale, one through five, that estimates potential property damage. This first-ever recorded event of two category four or stronger hurricanes, Hurricane Harvey trailed by Hurricane Irma, making landfall in the continental U.S. in the same year has prompted one of the largest HaDR operations in U.S. Navy history.


CARRIBEAN SEA (Sept. 10, 2017) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) transits the Caribbean Sea in support of first response efforts to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Irma to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Levingston Lewis/Released) 170910-N-BD308-0009

The seven surface force ships sent to various locations around Florida, the mid-Atlantic and the Caribbean include: USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS New York (LPD 21), USS Farragut (DDG 99), and USS San Jacinto (CG 56).

U.S. Northern Command endorses these ships as collectively capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy air lift support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment, security, route clearance and water purification. Amphibious ships are particularly well designed for this type of mission as they are designed and built to move Marines ashore and provide sustainable logistic and aviation support.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1-Nov. 30 and covers the areas of the North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, as per the NOAA.

The top priority of the federal government, as multiple federal and state organizations work together to support civil authorities, is to minimize suffering and protecting the lives and safety of those affected by these natural disasters. For such a lethal, war-fighting force, these surface combatants are especially equipped to conquer other mission areas. HaDR is a pillar mission set for the U.S. Navy and these ships’ crews- Sailors and Marines of the finest kind, surface warriors-along with their embarked aircraft.


ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 8, 2017) A GOES satellite image taken Sept. 8, 2017 at 9:45 a.m. EST shows Hurricane Irma, center, in the Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Jose, right, in the Atlantic Ocean, and Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 mph and is approximately 500 miles southeast of Miami, moving west-northwest at 16 mph. Hurricane warnings have been issued for South Florida, as the storm is expected to make landfall in Florida. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the NRL/Released) 170908-O-N0204-001

September 8, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Ships of the Surface Fleet: Amphibious Transport Dock Ship (LPD)


Amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17)

Construction of USS San Antonio (LPD 17), the first in the class of ships which bears her name, began in June 2000 with her commissioning in January 2006. Nearly every year since then, a new San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship (LPD) has commissioned into service in the U.S. Navy.

Coming in at 684 feet long with a weight of 25,300 metric tons, the modern $2 billion-dollar LPD specializes in the embark, transport, and land elements of a landing force for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions. This surface warrior’s mission is to transport  U.S. Marines and their mobility triad consisting of amphibious assault vehicles (AAAVs), landing craft air-cushion (LCAC) and the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, to the shore wherever needed around the world.


SAN DIEGO (April 21, 2014) The amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) arrives at its new homeport at Naval Base San Diego. Somerset, commissioned in Philadelphia March 1, is the ninth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, and is named in honor of the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, wich crashed near Shanksville, Pa., in Somerset County during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric Coffer/Released) 140421-N-GW139-034

USS New York (LPD 21) was the first of three LPD 17-class ships built in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Navy named the eighth and ninth ships of the class, USS Arlington (LPD 24) and USS Somerset (LPD 25), in honor of the victims of the attacks on the Pentagon and United Flight 93, respectively. In December 2016, the Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls the detail design and construction of LPD 28 (Fort Lauderdale). As the 12th San Antonio class ship, LPD 28 will perform the same missions as the previous 11 ships of the class while incorporating technically feasible cost reduction initiatives and class lessons learned.

These modern marvel warships are impressive, no doubt, but at their core, they are cold steel. It’s their crews of Sailors and Marines that make them versatile players in maritime security with the ability to support a variety of amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions. LPDs are capable of operating independently or as part of amphibious readiness groups, expeditionary strike groups or joint task forces, as well as supporting anti-piracy operations, providing humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster relief operations around the world. Whatever must be done to maintain the freedom of the seas, deter aggression, and protect U.S. interests and that of allies and partners.

September 1, 2017 / iDriveWarships

F-35B In the Fleet

05.22.2015 USS Wasp (LHD-1), At Sea - An F-35B Lightning II takes off from the flight deck of USS Wasp (LHD-1) during flight operations May, 22, 2015. Over a two-week period, the Marine Corps will evaluate the full spectrum of F-35B’s measures of suitability and effectiveness, as well as the aircraft’s readiness for initial operating capability in July. Data and lessons learned will lay the groundwork for future F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anne K. Henry/RELEASED)

You’ve probably heard that F-35B Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will someday be coming to an amphibious ship near you, but did you know that some ships have already made the improvements to accept F-35’s?

In August USS Essex (LHD 2) welcomed the F-35B on board during sea trials and flight deck certifications off the coast of Southern California.

While USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) wished fair winds and following… tailwinds to the last AV-8B Harrier from the “Tomcats” of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311, as VMA-311 concluded their last tour with the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Strike Group as the ESG transitions to F-35B.

And earlier this week USS Wasp (LHD 1) departed Naval Station Norfolk for Sasebo, Japan, where it will assume the duties of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and become the forward-deployed flagship of U.S. 7th Fleets amphibious force. Wasp will later become the first ship to do a regular deployment with an embarked F-35B squadron.

05.22.2015 USS Wasp (LHD-1), At Sea - An F-35B Lightning II takes off from the flight deck of USS Wasp (LHD-1) during flight operations May, 22, 2015. Over a two-week period, the Marine Corps will evaluate the full spectrum of F-35B’s measures of suitability and effectiveness, as well as the aircraft’s readiness for initial operating capability in July. Data and lessons learned will lay the groundwork for future F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anne K. Henry/RELEASED)

05.22.2015 USS Wasp (LHD-1), At Sea – An F-35B Lightning II takes off from the flight deck of USS Wasp (LHD-1) during flight operations May, 22, 2015. Over a two-week period, the Marine Corps will evaluate the full spectrum of F-35B’s measures of suitability and effectiveness, as well as the aircraft’s readiness for initial operating capability in July. Data and lessons learned will lay the groundwork for future F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anne K. Henry/RELEASED)

The F-35B is the world’s first supersonic short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) fighter and is set to become the new standard across the amphibious fleet eventually replacing the AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet. STOVL aircraft are fixed-wing aircraft that are able to take off from a short runway and land vertically like a helicopter. They can also take off vertically if they don’t have a heavy payload.

The STOVL capability of F-35B provides forward-deployed combatant commanders with more flexible basing options. In particular, when this aircraft deploys from LHDs, or America class LHAs, squadrons will be able to reach targets inaccessible from shore-based runways. Which is to say that if the target is too far away by flight alone commanders have the option to move a U.S. Navy Surface Force ship closer via sea and then launch aircraft to the target from there.

“[Wasp’s homeport shift] ensures that our most technologically-advanced air warfare platforms are forward deployed,” said Wasp Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew Smith. “Our capabilities, paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, increases our Navy’s precision strike capabilities within the 7th Fleet region. Wasp will help America’s commitment to the maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

Together forward-deployed amphibious ships like Wasp and embarked Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) like that of their 31st MEU, will form U.S. Pacific Command‘s premier crisis response force. Together, the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps team has the capability to conduct stability operations or deliver disaster relief at a moment’s notice.


August 25, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Why USS Coronado’s OTH Harpoon Missile Live-Fire Matters


PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 22, 2017) A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) as part of Pacific Griffin 2017. As the most complex and comprehensive exercise between the U.S. and The Republic of Singapore Navy to date, Pacific Griffin 2017 represents the enhanced capabilities of both navies to operate and work together to ensure maritime security and stability. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Fire Controlman Adam Hoffer/Released)

USS Coronado (LCS 4) conducted a successful live-fire test of a Harpoon Block 1C missile which then struck a surface target a significant distance beyond the ship’s visual range during exercise Pacific Griffin 2017 off the coast of Guam, August 22. This is an important event in the U.S. Navy’s commitment to advancing the capability of the harpoon missile system on board littoral combat ships (LCS).

The harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon (OTH) weapon designed to execute anti-ship missions against a range of surface targets. It can be launched from surface ships, submarines and aircraft and is currently used on 50 U.S. Navy ships, including select littoral combat ships.

Coronado used an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial system (UAS) and an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, both part of the ship’s rotary-wing air detachment, to provide targeting support for the missile. The firing demonstrated both the Navy’s broader objective of delivering OTH targeting using shipboard UASs as well as Coronado’s ability to use them.

Coronado’s OTH targeting ability significantly increases the range of the Harpoon Weapons System, allowing striking solutions without need of visual range of target and allowing Coronado to project combat power across significantly farther ranges within a broad spectrum of maritime warfare. This ability also represents another technologically advanced system the Navy can use to respond quickly and professionally to global events.

The ship’s successful firing of the harpoon OTH missile system shows the lethality LCS can offer while deployed overseas.

“LCS will play an important role in protecting shipping and vital U.S. interests in the maritime crossroads,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Task Force 73. “Its ability to pair unmanned vehicles like Fire Scout with Harpoon missiles to strike from the littoral shadows matters – there are over fifty thousand islands in the arc from the Philippines to India; those shallow crossroads are vital world interests. Harpoon and Fire Scout showcase one of the growing tool combinations in our modular LCS capability set, and this complex shot demonstrates why LCS has Combat as its middle name.”

August 18, 2017 / iDriveWarships

SURFPAC Surface Line Week 2017


SURFPAC Surface Line Week 2017 Overall 1st Place, Large Command, USS Boxer

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to get the blood flowing and lift moral among shipmates. The Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S Pacific Fleet hosted Surface Line Week (SLW) has offered that for 36 years.

SLW gives San Diego area Sailors, Marines, and Department of the Navy civilian employees an opportunity to come together to compete in both athletic and professional events and build camaraderie within the Surface community and along the waterfront each summer.


SAN DIEGO (Aug. 17, 2017) Sailors participate in a damage control competition as part of the 36th annual Surface Line Week (SLW) in San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phil Ladouceur)

“It’s always great to see the friendly competition,” said Lt. Amanda Towey, this year’s SLW coordinator. “These team sports really have an incredible level of camaraderie and all around fun.”

Commands compete in large, medium and small unit categories, accumulating points for each event they participate in throughout the week to identify the top command in each category. The week culminated with an award presentation where Vice Admiral Tom Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S Pacific Fleet announced many SLW winners including:

Overall 1st Place, Large command: USS Boxer (LHD 4)

Overall 1st Place, Medium command: USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26)

Overall 1st Place, Small command: Transient Personnel Unit

SMWDC Particpates in Surface Line Week 2017

San Diego, Calif. (Aug. 16, 2017) Lt. Ben Olivas, a Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), competes in a swimming event as part of Surface Line Week (SLW) 2017 on board Naval Base San Diego, Aug. 15. (U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup/Released)

Commands participated in professional skills challenges such as sailing, photography, cake decorating, lathe work, marksmanship, medical diagnosis, rescue swimmer, ship handling, valve packing, visual communications, maneuvering board (MoBoard), seamanship, and welding and cutting. They also competed in a damage control marathon, a stretcher bearer race, and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat race. This year’s SLW also featured athletic tournaments such as golf, softball, basketball, bowling, dodge ball, flag football, tennis, volleyball, soccer, and racquetball, as well as weightlifting, billiards, a 5k run, swimming, push-up and pull-up endurance challenges and functional fitness competitions.

Congratulations to all of the winners and everyone who participated! The coveted award of overall winner, which comes with the most bragging rights, will be announced at the annual Surface Warrior Ball August 26.


For more information on SURFPAC’s Surface Line Week 2017, click here or visit their Surface Line Week Facebook page here.



August 11, 2017 / iDriveWarships

75 Years Later: The Raid on Makin Island


Sgt. Walter Carroll and Pfc. Dean Winters of the 2nd Marine Raiders Battalion – “Carlson’s Raiders” – prepare to debark from the submarine USS Nautilus before the Makin Raid. The strike was designed to divert Japanese attention from the U.S. landings on Guadalcanal and boost American morale. National Archives photo

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the raid on Makin Island we bring you the inspiring story of grit and determination of the strike. This World War II battle became not only the stuff of legend, but the namesake of several of U.S. Navy ships.

The coral atoll in the Pacific’s Gilbert Island chain known as Makin Island (though it’s real name is Makin Atoll) became the site of American troops’ first amphibious attack made from submarines. The raid on Makin Island began August 17, 1942 when 222 Marines from two companies of the 2nd Raider Battalion launched from submarines USS Argonaut (APS 1) and USS Nautilus (SS 168).

The Raiders’ mission was to destroy the Japanese installations, gain intelligence on the area, take prisoners, and divert Japanese attention and reinforcements from Guadalcanal and Tulagi, where American Marines had landed earlier in the month.

Marine Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson led the men ashore under the cover of night. Notable amongst his troops was his executive officer, Maj. James Roosevelt, the son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned.


Makin Atoll, aka Makin Island

Once topside the men, known as “Carlson’s Raiders,” were met with gale force winds and rough seas. While making their way to the beach many of their small boat engines were drowned out by the bad weather, and the men had to paddle them to shore. As the Raiders arrived, they spotted a small boat and a large transport ship in the waters nearby. Using only radios to relay communications and compass readings from Carlson, Nautilus fired her 6-inch guns into the night and was able to sink both vessels.

Despite all this, the men were able to remain undetected until landing on the beach. Shortly after landing, an accidental burst of gunfire from one of the men’s rifles announced their arrival. Within 20 minutes the fighting began. As the mission unfolded, the men faced-off against everything from heavy sniper fire, tanks, and machine guns, to flamethrowers and aerial bombing from at least 12 aircraft. But they were able to evade the threat and eliminate the enemy.

After several attempts the men were able to pass the breakers August 18 and make their way aboard the submarines, which immediately steamed to Pearl Harbor. An accurate account of the men couldn’t be made until they reached Hawaii. There it was revealed 30 of Carlson’s Raider’s hadn’t returned.


Marine Raiders and Sailors crowd the deck of USS Argonaut as she is warped into the dock at Pearl Harbor after the Makin Island raid. National Archives photo

It was eventually determined that seven drowned, 14 were killed by Japanese forces, and nine were unaccounted for. It was later discovered those nine were somehow marooned on the island. With help from sympathetic locals they evaded Japanese forces for some time but were eventually caught and taken to Kwajalein where they were beheaded.

While there has been some debate about the success of the mission objectives, it was at the time considered both a success and a morale raiser for the troops, as well as a sign to the world that the U.S. was gaining control of the war.

The will and determination of Carlson’s Raiders left a lasting impression and less than two years later the Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Makin Island (CVE 93) was commissioned. Although the original Makin Island was decommissioned in 1946, the gritty, fighting spirit of her namesake Raiders is carried on in the present USS Makin Island (LHD 8), an amphibious assault ship.

USS Makin Island is home ported in San Diego where the crew is now enjoying some time ashore after returning from a seven-month deployment in July.

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