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February 27, 2015 / iDriveWarships

SURFPAC Celebrates Black History Month

SURFPAC Black History Month celebration 2015

Today, the staff of Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet gathered together to observe Black History Month with a ceremony and remarks from special guests. The ceremony emphasized this year’s nationwide Black History Month theme of “A Century of Black Life, History and Culture.”

Capt. Paul Hogue, Commander of Destroyer Squadron 23, served as the keynote speaker for the event. A special presentation was made by former Marines who attended basic training at the historic Camp Montford Point, located in North Carolina.

Retired Marine Corps First Sgt. Joe Earl Jackson and retired Gunnery Sgt. J. T. Ingle, both Camp Montford Point alumni, shared their stories of military life during segregation with those who attended the ceremony.

Today, there are more than 120,000 African American active duty, reservists and civilians in the Navy Total Force.

February 26, 2015 / iDriveWarships

SURFPAC Welcomes 2014 Sailor of the Year Finalists

2014 Sailor of the Year Finalists
Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) welcomed eight Sailors to San Diego for its annual Sea and Shore Sailor of the Year week. The Sailor of the Year program recognizes individuals who best represent each command while upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Navy. Related events honor each of the finalists for their contributions to their commands and local communities while evaluating their military bearing, professional performance and leadership skills. This week the finalists are competing for the title of Sailor of the Year, to be announced Feb. 27.

YN1 BRANDY BROSSARDYeoman 1st Class Petty Officer Brandy Brossard reported to her first duty station in 2002 at Naval Base Point Loma. While there, she volunteered for Individual Augmentee duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as part of the Joint Detainee Operations Battalion. Brossard’s sea duty assignments include Fighter Squadron VFA-195 in Atsugi, Japan where she completed several Rim of the Pacific exercises aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and USS George Washington (CVN 73). She was later stationed at Naval Station Everett in the security department. Brossard is currently serving in the admin department at Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. She earned her Associate’s Degree in general studies from Central Texas College, and her Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia College.

 

ABH1 DAVID DYSARTAviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Petty Officer David Dysart attended the Airman Apprenticeship Training Core Course in Pensacola, Fla. in 2003. The following year, Dysart reported to USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in San Diego, Calif. After six years, he transferred to Instructor Duty at Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three at Naval Station North Island. Dysart then transferred to his current command, USS Makin Island (LHD 8) in San Diego, Calif.

 

MN1 ALNESUGI RIVERA FEBRESMineman 1st Class Petty Officer Alnesugi Febres reported to Mineman “A” School in Ingleside, Texas in 2006. He arrived at his first duty station at Mobile Mine Assembly Unit Eleven in Charleston, S.C. the following year. His next assignment was Littoral Combat Ship/Mine Countermeasures Detachment One in San Diego, Calif. In 2013, Febres checked in to Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One in San Diego, Calif., where he is currently assigned as the Mission Package Liaison and command fitness leader. Febres earned an Associate’s Degree in math and science from Coastline Community College.

 

FC1 ERIC LARSONFire Controlman 1st Class Petty Officer Eric Larson reported to Fire Controlman “A” School in 2003. After completing MK 86 Advanced Gun Fire Control System “C” School, Larson reported for duty aboard USS Port Royal (CG 73) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In 2009, Larson was assigned to Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center Detachment San Diego, where he served with the Army 5th Battalion Air Defense Artillery, Joint Intercept Battery in Basrah, Iraq. The following year, Larson was assigned to Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific as an instructor in Naval Gunfire Support. He has been stationed aboard USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) in Yokosuka, Japan since 2013. Larson earned an Associate’s Degree from National University, and is currently enrolled at The Pennsylvania State University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in security and risk analysis.

 

ABF1 JOSEPH MATHEWSAviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 1st Class Petty Officer Joseph Mathews graduated from “A” school in 2003 at Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Fla. His first sea duty assignment was aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) in Sasebo, Japan. He attended “C” school in 2007 and then reported to USS Nimitz (CVN 68). In 2010, he checked into Naval Air Station Whidbey Island as Fuels Leading Petty Officer. He is currently stationed onboard USS America (LHA 6) as the Air Department’s Leading Petty Officer.

 

FC1 CHRISTOPHER PICKARTZFire Controlman 1st Class Petty Officer Christopher Pickartz completed “A” and “C” schools in 2005, and reported to Pascagoula, Miss. as a member of the commissioning crew for USS Kidd (DDG 100). In 2012, Pickartz arrived at his current duty station, Afloat Training Group San Diego. He graduated from Arkansas Tech University in 2000 and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at National University.

 

IT1 ANGEL ROBINSONInformation Systems Technician 1st Class Petty Officer Angel Robinson attended Seamanship Apprenticeship Training Division School in 2001 in Great Lakes, Ill. Her first duty assignment was aboard USS Fife (DD 991). In 2002, she was selected to attend Information System Technician “A” school. The following year, Robinson reported to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Strategic Communications Unit Detachment in Fairfield, Calif. In 2005, she became the Communications Leading Petty Officer at Tactical Air Control Squadron 12 at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. In 2010, she reported to Navy Cyber Forces Detachment San Diego. She has been stationed aboard USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) since 2012. Robinson earned an Associate’s Degree in general studies.

 

HM1 PATRICK SATTERFIELDHospital Corpsman 1st Class Petty Officer Patrick Satterfield completed Airman “A” school in Pensacola, Fla. in 2000, and then reported aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). He later chose to strike to the rating of Hospital Corpsman and attended “A” school in 2004. Later that year, he was attached to the Orthopedic Ward at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Two years later, Satterfield selected orders to USS Mason (DDG 87). In 2009 he returned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, serving as the Navy Medicine East Planning Operation Medical Intelligence Leading Petty Officer. After certifying as a Basic Emergency Medical Technician, he graduated from Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsman School. Next, Satterfield reported to USS Warrior (MCM 10) in San Diego, Calif. Satterfield was the first Independent Duty Corpsman to volunteer for the initial permanent crew to be stationed in Manama, Bahrain only six months later. He is currently stationed aboard USS Gladiator (MCM 11).
February 24, 2015 / iDriveWarships

USS San Diego Returning Home to Namesake City Following Maiden Deployment

Marines from the 11th MEU disembark from USS Makin Island (LHD 8) during an offload of personnel and equipment.

By MC1(SW/AW) Joseph M. Buliavac, USS San Diego Public Affairs

As USS San Diego (LPD 22) sits off the coast of Camp Pendleton offloading Marines and their equipment today, the crew is getting excited about tomorrow’s homecoming. Deployment homecomings are one of the most anticipated events for Sailors, Marines and their families. In the case of San Diego it’s even more important and monumental, because the ship is returning from her 26,000-nautical-mile maiden deployment.

The deployment included some noteworthy events and milestones. The ship responded to a Pacific Fleet humanitarian assistance request to recover three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsored scientists from the Pearl and Hermes Atoll, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, threatened by Hurricane Iselle. Two small boats containing Navy and Marine Corps recovery teams transited the challenging seas for six nautical miles before reaching the opening to the island chain where the three NOAA scientists awaited help. At only 12 feet above sea level at the highest point, the small islet was in danger of being flooded by the hurricane storm surge.

San Diego’s Engineering Department was able to conduct any and all major maintenance and repair evolutions while at sea, ensuring the ship’s mission and operational tempo was uninterrupted. This resulted in a 26-day, over 13,000nm, full-power run from the northern Red Sea to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii—a feat never before accomplished by a San Antonio-class LPD.

San Diego pushed Information Dominance Warfare by aligning the ship’s Information Dominance Corps ratings. The crew’s intelligence, electronic warfare, cryptologic, and communications teams innovated by re-scoping their mission sets and operated as an Information Dominance Operations Cell (IDOC). This unique alignment concept resulted in San Diego establishing benchmarks with record-breaking results leading to the ship being recognized as the U.S. 7th Fleet Cryptologic Ship of the Quarter, 4th quarter 2014.

Having spent 200 out of a 216-day deployment out to sea, San Diego did manage to make a few port calls. The crew enjoyed some well deserved time off in Aqaba, Jordan; Hong Kong, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During some of these visits they took part in a variety of community relations activities. These events included spending time with underprivileged children in Hong Kong, a friendly soccer match with a Royal Jordanian Navy team, and a familiarization visit to a mosque.

Of course, no deployment would be complete without Sailors receiving recognition for their hard work. Five officers earned their Surface Warfare Officer qualification; three earned the Command Duty Officer qualification; and 14 officers, one Senior Chief Petty Officer and one Chief Petty Officer completed the Officer of the Deck qualification. Four officers were also promoted to the next rank, while 204 Sailors were awarded the Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification, and 57 enlisted Sailors were advanced to the next pay grade.

Over the last seven months, USS San Diego has:
• completed five full vehicle and equipment offloads in five countries,
• received 4.1 million gallons of fuel,
• produced 5 million gallons of water,
• conducted 40,000 man-hours in repairs,
• completed a full vehicle & equipment wash down in three days vice the normal seven,
• flew 1821.2 flight hours,
• completed 2,593 passenger movements,
• moved 12,146,725 lbs. of cargo,
• took on 908 tons of food,
• took on 507 tons in stores, parts and supplies,
• received 65 tons of mail,
• completed 20 Replenishments at Sea, and
• conducted 37 well deck operations.

The crew has done the work and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. With all of their hard work and accomplishments, San Diego’s maiden deployment is—without a doubt—one the crew and the city she was named after can be proud of!

February 19, 2015 / iDriveWarships

Vandy Decommissions After 30 Years

The crew of USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) stands assembled on the pier during the ship's decommissioning ceremony.

After more than 30 years of naval service, USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) was decommissioned today during a ceremony at Naval Base San Diego.

The ship was named for Gen. Alexander Vandegrift, the 18th commandant of the Marine Corps and the first U.S. Marine to hold the rank of four-star general while on active duty. The 1st Marine Division was under command of Vandegrift during WWII where he led them to victory during the Battle of Guadalcanal, earning the Medal of Honor for his efforts.

Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of the 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton, was the keynote speaker during the somber decommissioning ceremony. The ship’s first commanding officer, retired Capt. Coneway, was also in attendance to speak about the ship’s accomplished history.

The ship returned from its final deployment last December to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility. As part of the counter-transnational organized crime mission Operation Martillo, USS Vandegrift patrolled the illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America, intercepting almost 20,000 pounds of cocaine.

USS Vandegrift is the 38th Oliver Hazard Perry class guided-missile frigate, and was commissioned on Nov. 24, 1984 in Seattle.

Sailors stationed aboard USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) disembark the ship during its decommissioning ceremony.

February 13, 2015 / iDriveWarships

San Diego Padres Players Tour William P. Lawrence

Major League Baseball players from the San Diego Padres toured USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) Feb. 6 to talk with the crew and sign autographs.

Padres players Wil Myers, Ian Kennedy, Derek Norris, Andrew Cashner, Joaquin Benoit, and Justin Upton visit USS William P. Lawrence

San Diego Padres players Wil Myers, Ian Kennedy, Derek Norris, Andrew Cashner, Joaquin Benoit, and Justin Upton with USS William P. Lawrence leadership

Derek Norris onboard USS William P. Lawrence

*Padres photography by Scott Wachter

February 5, 2015 / iDriveWarships

LCS Crew 103 to Deploy to Singapore, Take Command of Fort Worth

USS Fort Worth departed San Diego Nov. 17 for a 16-month rotational deployment to Southeast Asia.

A major milestone for the Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) program, LCS Crew 103 known as the “Rough Riders,” will fly out of San Diego this Sunday to meet USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in Singapore. This will be the first operational demonstration of the “3-2-1″ rotational crew concept where three crews rotate between two ships, with one of the two ships always forward deployed.

Crew 103 will assume command of the ship from Crew 104, known as the “Juggernauts,” and continue the mission of forward presence. During their deployment, the Rough Riders will conduct several port visits and take part in exercises with regional navies, including the first exercise involving an LCS in Northeast Asia.

As for the Juggernauts, after coming home and getting some much-deserved rest, they will head to Marinette, Wis. to take delivery of the next LCS, the future USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), set to be delivered later this year.

When USS Fort Worth departed San Diego last November for a 16-month deployment, she was equipped with the Surface Warfare mission package and embarked aviation detachment. This is the ship’s maiden deployment and beginning of a continuous LCS presence in Singapore. This is also the first deployment of a composite aviation detachment on an LCS, with the “Magicians” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 combining the MH-60 helicopter and the Vertical Take-off and landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

January 26, 2015 / iDriveWarships

USS Rodney M. Davis Decommissioning: Bold Runners from Start to Finish

CDR Whalen, commanding officer of the Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigate, USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60), presents the last national ensign flown aboard the ship underway to Gordon Davis, eldest brother of Sgt. Rodney Maxwell Davis, during the ship's decommissioning ceremony at Naval Station Everett.

By Cmdr. Todd Whalen, Commanding Officer of USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60)

A ship decommissioning is typically a somber affair. When a ship is commissioned, eager and smiling Sailors bring the ship to life. But the decommissioning ceremony is more like a funeral, as Sailors bid farewell and shed a few tears.

Last Friday, my crew and I said goodbye to USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60), named after Sgt. Rodney Maxwell Davis, USMC, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life for his fellow Marines on the field of battle in Vietnam.

Sgt. Davis’ wife, Judy, the ship’s sponsor, christened the ship and was on hand when the ship was commissioned on May 9, 1987. Twenty-eight years later, over 40 members of the Davis family joined my crew at our decommissioning ceremony. Sgt. Davis’ siblings: Gordon, Howard, Robert and Debra watched as we disembarked the crew. His daughters, Samantha and Nichola, helped us haul down our colors and commissioning pennant. After the ceremony, Rodney Maxwell Davis II and III walked our steel decks.

As expected, it was a sad day, but also a time to celebrate the life of an American hero and the ship bearing his name. In a fitting tribute to Sgt. Davis’ legacy, many USS Rodney M. Davis (RMD) plankowners and former crew were on hand for the ceremony. Additionally, several Marines who served with Sgt. Davis in London and Vietnam were in the audience, including some of those he saved with his final valiant act. It was a special day for all RMD Sailors, past and present.

Over 2,000 Bold Runners served on RMD over the years. Commissioned May 9, 1987, the ship left for Yokosuka, Japan the following year and spent the first half of her career as part of our Forward Deployed Naval Forces. While assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, RMD conducted extensive operations in the Western Pacific Ocean and deployed multiple times to the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and Gulf of Oman. Mid-career, RMD returned stateside and joined Destroyer Squadron Nine in Everett, Wash. RMD deployed another six times, including three tours of duty in support of Counter-Illicit Trafficking in the Southern Pacific Ocean and a final deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

A week after I assumed command of RMD in May 2013, my crew and I took the ship to sea for the first time in 22 months. After sea trials, it was full speed ahead through basic phase training, a Board of Inspection and Survey, and an early deployment. RMD’s final crew of 197 “decommissioning plankowners” honored Sgt. Davis by doing what every RMD Sailor has done over the years; we worked together to prepare the ship for sustained combat operations at sea, and we did everything we could to make this ship the best it could be. I am in awe of what this crew accomplished in bringing a 28-year-old warship back to life to conduct the nation’s business one last time.

RMD’s mission during our sunset deployment was Pacific partnership and theater security cooperation, and I feel Sgt. Davis would be proud of what this final crew accomplished. It was a whirlwind six months as we steamed over 37,000 nautical miles and visited seven countries, but here are a few memories that stand out for me:

• Operating with 49 ships from 22 countries during exercise Rim of the Pacific
• Welcoming Davy Jones and making a new crop of trusty shellbacks as we crossed the equator
• Joining 50 ships from Indonesia, Singapore and Australia off the coast of New Guinea in the morning fog for a parade of sail
• Visiting Tokyo and listening to the stories of Sailors who climbed Mt. Fuji
• Looking out across the Malacca Strait from downtown Singapore, and then steaming through the next day
• Being the first U.S. ship to visit the Maldives in over four years
• Watching the sun set over the Big Buddha statue while at anchor in Phuket, Thailand
• Cultural exchanges with hundreds of high school students in Medan, Indonesia
• Deck-landing qualifications with a Brunei helicopter in the 20th year of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training
• Being in Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor Day
• A final homecoming in Everett

By valor and arms, RMD and her crew have answered the call for 28 years. We honored Sgt. Davis by working together to boldly execute the mission, and we’ll carry his Bold Runner spirit with us for the rest of our lives.

 The final crew of USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) depart the ship during the ship's decommissioning ceremony at Naval Station Everett

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