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December 29, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Hello, 2018!

new year

Wishing all of you the best with your goals in 2018! Here’s to a safe, happy, and healthy new year!

December 22, 2017 / iDriveWarships

A Grinch Underway


From all of us at Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Happy Holidays!


December 15, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Get to know Little Rock (LCS 9)

The U.S. Navy‘s newest littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Little Rock (LCS 9), will be commissioned tomorrow into active service during a ceremony held in Canalside Buffalo, adjacent to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, in Buffalo, New York. In honor of this momentous occasion we’ve gathered ten facts — five about the ship and five related to its namesake city — to help you get to know Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Little Rock. Make sure to tune in here Saturday to watch the historic commissioning ceremony LIVE, starting at 1100 EST.

  • The future USS Little Rock’s keel was laid down June 27, 2013. The mast stepping ceremony took place April 23, 2015 and it was christened July 18, 2015. It will be commissioned during a ceremony at Canalside in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.

    Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 2.50.45 PM

    USS Little Rock (LCS 9) Coat of Arms, featuring their motto: “Back with a Vengeance.”

  • PCU Little Rock’s name honors the capital city Arkansas, which is the state’s largest municipality with nearly 200,000 people calling it home.
  • The littoral combat ship will be the 10th littoral combat ship to join the Navy and the 5th in the fleet of the odd-numbered Freedom variants. It features a steel double-chine advanced semi-planing monohull design.
  • PCU Little Rock’s namesake city derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called “le Petit Rocher” (French: “the little rock”). The “little rock” was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing.
  • The future USS Little Rock (LCS 9) was christened and side launched on July 18, 2015 during a ceremony at Marinette Marine Corporation’s shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.
  • Former Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus selected USS Little Rock’s name. He served as the 75th SECNAV and was the longest serving leader of the Navy and Marine Corps since World War I.
  • Janée L. Bonner, spouse of the Honorable Josiah “Jo” Bonner, former U.S. representative of Alabama, is the ship’s sponsor. She christened the ship and at the commissioning will give the traditional order for the crew to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

    USS Little Rock

    USS Little Rock (CLG 4) underway at sea, prior to taking over temporary duty as the flagship for Commander Second Fleet Vice Adm. K.S. Masterson on June 19, 1965. (U.S. Navy Photo Courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

  • For the first time in the Navy’s 242-year history, a new ship will be commissioned alongside a ship of the same name. The original USS Little Rock is the only remaining Cleveland-class ship and is now on permanent display as a museum at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.
  • At 3400-tons, LCS 9 is 388 feet in length, has a beam of 57 feet, and can operate at more than 40 knots. It will be homeported in Mayport, Florida.
  • A Key to the City of Little Rock was given to the ship and it, along with a Key to the City of Buffalo recognizing them for the historical commissioning, will be put on a plaque & stored in a trophy case aboard the vessel for the life of the ship.

LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed for operation in near-shore (littoral) environments, also has the capability to perform open-ocean operations. It’s designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. For more information on the littoral combat ship, click here.



December 1, 2017 / iDriveWarships

5 Facts to Know About LCS and Serving Aboard Them


The first of class littoral combat ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), left, and USS Independence (LCS 2), maneuver together during an exercise off the coast of Southern California. The littoral combat ship is a fast, agile, networked surface combatant designed to operate in the near-shore environment, while capable of open-ocean tasking, and win against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines, and swarming small craft. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Jan Shultis) 120502-N-ZZ999-009

Littoral combat ships (LCS) are small surface combatant ships with specific, yet flexible, capabilities. The ships employ a system-of-systems approach through a series of modular mission packages, unmanned vehicles and an innovative hull design.

The force flexibility means commanders can pair capabilities with the specific mission requirements. Duty aboard an LCS as part of the rotating Blue/Gold crews is challenging and exciting. What more could a Sailor ask for than a new ship, more opportunities to learn and train, and a variety of missions to conquer!

Here are five things to know about littoral combat ships and serving aboard them.


SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 9, 2017) Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Coombs signals to the MH-60S Seahawk during a vertical replenishment exercise as part of Initial Ship Aviation Team Training with the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 aboard littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). Coronado is on a rotational deployment in U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility, patrolling the region’s littorals and working hull-to-hull with partner navies to provide 7th Fleet with the flexible capabilities it needs now and in the future. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Deven Leigh Ellis/Released) 170509-N-PD309-019

1. LCS Sailors do more than their specific rating requires; they become experts in additional jobs and areas around the ship. “My main job is CS, a culinary specialist,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Mariah Marie Cords. “Other jobs that I do [are] anchor windlass, I’m a part of line handling, and I’m also part of flight deck firefighting.” LCS Sailors have the opportunity to learn more and use that training and experience the rest of their career.

2. There are two distinct variants of LCS ships – the Independence-Class and the Freedom-Class. Each have unique strengths and benefits to the program, and though they tackle the same missions, are very different ships. The Freedom-Class LCSs look like a more traditional Navy vessel, both inside and out, with a sleek hull design aimed at speed, and a unique quick-release system for boat operations. The Independence-Class ships feature a unique and futuristic-looking tri-hull design, and an interior featuring wider passageways and staircases instead of ladderwells. Independence-Class ships feature a much larger mission bay, allowing for quicker changes between mission packages.

3. Enlisted Sailors, chiefs, and officers all share in the duties and work on the ship. It is not uncommon to see the command master chief washing his own dishes in the galley, or seeing high-ranking officers walking side-by-side with seamen picking up foreign objects during FOD walkdown before flight operations.

4. The smaller crew creates crew familiarity, stability and a sense of ship ownership. “You’re working with such a tight-knit group, it feels like a family. I know that the Sailor standing next to me has my back no matter what,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Nguyen.

5. The LCS program employs three distinct mission packages, which can change depending on what the ship is assigned to do. While the primary mission packages are surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare, LCSs can also be outfitted for unique missions utilizing their mission bays, including humanitarian assistance and special operations. “Whatever a combatant commander decides they want the Navy can resource and build, we can plug it into this ship and have it on station,” said Commander Kevin Meehan, the commanding officer aboard USS Gabrielle Giffords.


*This content originally appeared on All Hands Magazine’s website, here.

November 24, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Giving Thanks

USS Preble

INDIAN OCEAN (Nov. 23, 2017) Sailors gather on the mess decks for Thanksgiving dinner aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88). Preble is conducting maritime security, forward presence and theater security operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Morgan K. Nall/Released) 171123-N-IA905-2018

As Americans, we have countless reasons to be thankful during Thanksgiving celebrations.  Most of us will spend the holiday weekend enjoying time with friends and families, watching parades with elaborately decorated floats and cheering for our favorite football teams, but not all Americans are able to take part in the festivities. Some of these fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and siblings serving in the United States Navy and the Surface Force will be standing the watch around the globe so those at home can enjoy their peace and prosperity.

We can, and should, be grateful to these Sailors and for the safety of our seas and commerce, the defense of our country, and for our civil liberties they help protect.  Some of them will take time off to join their families for the holiday, and we can be grateful for that too, but our true thanks should be given to those who will not be spending their Thanksgiving at home. No, instead, these selfless and brave warfighters will spend their holiday aboard ships, manning our installations, or deployed to foreign lands. While they will be missed, the sacrifices they make for our country and for our freedom they protect is something for which every man, woman, and child can be grateful.

Thanksgiving aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)

SASEBO, Japan (Nov. 24, 2017) Cmdr. Rich LeBron, executive officer, serves Sailors a Thanksgiving meal aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard, forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, is serving forward to provide a rapid-response capability in the event of a regional contingency or natural disaster. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cameron McCulloch/Released) 171123-N-RU971-076

This sacrifice, though necessary, is not lost on Navy leaders.  Around the globe, commands will host their own Thanksgiving Day celebrations and offer the best shipboard comfort cuisine the military has to offer.  These events, though appreciated by the crew, are about more than just delivering a special meal – it’s the comfort and solace that comes along with those juicy slices of turkey, stuffing covered in gravy, and sides of cranberry sauce; it’s a slice of normal. If you’ve participated in preparing a family thanksgiving meal, you know it involves meticulous planning and preparation as well as perfect execution in order to make sure everything turns out just right and right on time.

So, what does it take to for the Surface Force to feed the more than 19,000 Sailors deployed protecting and defending our freedom?  Well, it takes a lot.  According to the Naval Supply System Command’s estimate, the culinary specialists and their food service attendants were responsible for the preparation and serving of approximately:

15,000 pounds of turkey                      5,200 pounds of mashed potatoes

1,200 pounds of corn                           1,300 pounds of green been casserole

1,000 pounds of cranberry sauce        4,000 pounds of ham

3,000 pounds of sweet potatoes          2,900 pounds of stuffing

2,500 pounds of gravy                         1,500 pounds of shrimp

3,000 pounds of eggnog         and       1,000 pies…

All of this, just to give you a little taste and home and as a heartfelt Thank You for your service.

For all you brave Surface Force Sailors on the high seas, know that although you cannot be at home, you are missed, and as we pick our turkey legs clean, raise another glass of eggnog, and indulge in just one more slice of pie this holiday, we’re thinking of you.

From all of us at Naval Surface Forces, Happy Thanksgiving!


November 17, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Surface Navy Remembers Capt. Thomas J. Hudner Jr.


WASHINGTON (May 8, 2012) An artist rendering of the future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116). The ship is named after Thomas Hudner, right, a Medal of Honor recipient and retired Naval aviator. (U.S. Navy illustration by Lt. Shawn Eklund/Released) 120508-N-AL577-001

Nov. 13, 2017 bore witness to the passing of one of America’s true and great heroes. At 93 years of age, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner’s passing leaves behind a legacy of heroism, service with honor, brotherhood, equality, and dedication to his country.

After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1946, Hudner became a pilot during the Korean War and quickly earned a humble reputation as a prolific pilot and friend. Just one year after qualifying as a naval aviator, Hudner stamped his name in the Naval history books while assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 aboard USS Leyte (CV 32), as part of U.S. 7th Fleet Task Force 77.

USN 1146845

Naval aviator Ensign Jesse L. Brown sits in the cockpit of an F4U-4 Corsair fighter, circa 1950. Brown was the first African-American to complete U.S. Navy flight training and the first African-American naval aviator in combat and to be killed in combat. He flew with Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32) from USS Leyte (CV 32). Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

On the coattails of the desegregation of the military in 1948, Ensign Jesse Brown, the first African-American naval aviator, was assigned to the same squadron as Hudner and had been etching his own name in history scrolls as a talented fighter pilot. Brown and Hudner, Brown’s wingman, were on mission in Dec. 1950 providing air support during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir when Brown’s plane was shot down over North Korea. Noticing that brown was still alive after the plane crash but apparently trapped in the plane’s cockpit, Hudner jettisoned his own plane in the snowy mountains and attempted to rescue Brown before he was discovered by converging North Korean troops.

Hudner was unable to extinguish Brown’s burning aircraft with snow, even with assistance from a rescue helicopter crewmember, Lt. Charles Ward. As dusk crept in, Hudner and the rescue helicopter, unable to operate in the approaching darkness, were forced to leave the still-trapped Brown. Hudner begged superiors to conduct an extraction mission for Brown’s body, but all requests were denied because the possibility of ambush was too great.


Mrs. Daisy P. Brown, widow of Ensign Jesse L. Brown, congratulates Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Thomas J. Hudner, USN, after he receives the Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House, 13 April 1951. Lt. j.g. Hudner was awarded the medal for attempting to rescue Ensign Brown, who had been shot down by enemy fire near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, on 4 December 1950. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, while attempting to rescue a squadron mate…” is what Hudner’s Medal of Honor citation would later read. Hudner’s actions made him the first Medal of Honor recipient since WWII.

Hudner’s actions could have been single-handedly responsible for breaking stigma of a desegregated military. Even at the risk of court martial for intentionally crashing his plane, the selflessness of this “color” blind hero paved the way toward equality in the years to come. Throughout the remainder of his career, Hudner worked tirelessly to convince naval authorities to name a ship after Brown. In 1973, Hudner retired from the Navy at the rank of captain but saw his efforts come to fruition that same year with the commissioning of Knox-class frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF 1089). The frigate was commissioned in February 1973 and served as a reminder of Brown’s service and sacrifice for a little over 20 years, before being decommissioned in 1994.

In retirement, Hudner went on to work with the United Services Organization (the USO), served as commissioner for the Massachusetss Department of Veterans’ Service and regularly worked with veterans groups.


BATH, Maine (April 1, 2017) Streamers mix with falling snow during the christening of the future guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) at the Bath Iron Works shipyard Saturday, April 1, 2017 in Bath, Maine. Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor for valor during in the Korean War when he intentionally crash landed his plane in an effort to save fellow pilot Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first African-American pilot. (U.S. Navy photo/Released) 170401-N-N0101-102

In honor of Hudner’s heroic and selfless actions, future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), the next evolutionary stage in tactical excellence in surface warfare, is expected to commission in Boston in the Fall of 2018.

The ship will be one of the nation’s most technologically advanced and capable warships. It will be the first of the “technology insertion” destroyers, which means it will gain elements of the next generation Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The improvements will include better onboard power-generation, increased automation, and next generation weapons, sensors and electronics.

The Medal of Honor and future USS Thomas Hudner are momentous achievements that represent the Navy core values of honor, courage, and commitment and will hopefully resonate with future generations of Sailors and Americans as he is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Even through the United States lost a true American hero, his legacy will carry on in the crews that will man and sail the future USS Thomas Hudner across the seven seas and to ports across the globe.

Fair winds and follow seas shipmate.


CONCORD, Mass. (Nov. 15, 2017) The Military Funeral Honors Team of the Massachusetts Army National Guard carries the casket of Medal of Honor Recipient retired Capt. Thomas J. Hudner Jr., during a funeral procession in Hudner’s honor. Hudner, a naval aviator, received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released) 171115-N-SM577-0113

November 10, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Control the Solomon Islands, Control the War: Lessons Learned at Guadalcanal


Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 12-15 November 1942: USS President Jackson (AP-37) maneuvering under Japanese air attack off Guadalcanal, 12 November 1942. In the center background is smoke from an enemy plane that had just crashed into the after superstructure of USS San Francisco (CA-38), which is steaming away in the right center. Photographed from USS President Adams (AP-38). Note the anti-aircraft shell bursts. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Meant to light the way toward victory for America and her allies in the South Pacific during World War II (WWII), Operation WATCHTOWER proved to be one of the most intense and knotted amphibious and open water operations in the U.S. Navy‘s history.

At this point in the war, the Japanese Imperial forces were determined to exert sea control of the trade routes in order to strengthen their replenishment efforts while cutting off those of their enemies. With seizure of Guadalcanal, the largest of the southern Solomon Islands, from the British in July 1942, they began building an airfield to solidify their occupation and launch bombing missions against the opposing Allied fleets.


USS San Francisco (CA-38) enters San Francisco Bay, 11 December 1942, after being damaged in action off Guadalcanal

In the end, after an excruciatingly long period of fighting (August 7th, 1942 – February 9th, 1943), the American Navy and Marine Corps offensive campaign proved victorious and established a permanent base for the expansion of American combat power, and ultimately provided the turning point in the war – for the first time in the war, the relative advantage for the Japanese Imperial forces were decisively reversed.  Momentum was now on the side of the Americans and their allies.

But make no mistake; while the spoils go to the victor – in this case the forward operating base established at “Henderson Field” and the Japanese Imperial forces’ desire to push into Australia thwarted –, the campaign was initially under-resourced with ships based on an underestimation of Japanese naval capabilities by U.S. Navy leadership. Ashore, the thinner ration of supplies allocated (60-day vs. standard 90-day pack-outs) for the amphibious campaign near the beginning of the engagement was so noticeable that it had the Marines involved nicknaming the engagement “Operation SHOESTRING.”  Both factors would contribute to the large losses felt by Allied forces.


Kinugawa Maru (Japanese cargo ship) shown beached and sunk on the Guadalcanal shore, November 1943. She had been sunk by U.S. aircraft on 15 November 1942, while attempting to deliver men and supplies to Japanese forces holding the northern part of the island. Savo Island is in the distance. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Allied and Enemy Estimated Losses Compared

Allied Powers                    Empire of Japan
7,100 dead                          31,000 dead
4 captured                           1,000 captured
29 ships lost                        38 ships lost
615 aircraft lost                   683–880 aircraft lost

That being said, regardless of circumstances handed American forces throughout the months of fighting, the grit of heroes like Congressional Medal of Honor recipients Sergeant John Basilone and Rear Admiral Norman Scott was demonstrative of the commitment needed, and exerted, to overcome such fierce aggression and opposition.

In today’s Surface Warfare Strategy, we talk about being ready “to hold potential adversaries at risk, a range, whether at sea or ashore.” We owe so much of our ability to maintain maritime superiority to the lessons learned from the courageous Sailors and Marines serving at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Given perspective, we recognize that the fighting ashore was bloody, but the at-sea clashes between the Japanese Imperial and Allied navies were unprecedented. The close range fighting (some reported as close as 20 feet) was so devastating to both sides that the strait to the north of Guadalcanal became known as “Iron Bottom Sound” due to its floor being littered with sunken warships.

So given all the time that has passed and the developments in the Navy since, what lessons learned remain as relevant to us today as they did in 1940s?  

The answer can be found in how we organize surface forces for enhanced combat power today.

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 2.05.36 PMTactics: Never underestimate the enemy. The American Navy had planned for daytime fighting operations being held at considerable distance.  Stunningly, the Japanese had grown their tactics with an asymmetrical approach, mastering night operations at sea. Today, we have the Surface Mine Warfare Development Center growing tactically proficiency in junior officers and deployed staffs by covering advanced tactics in amphibious warfare, anti-submarine warfare/surface warfare, integrated air and missile defense, and mine warfare.

Talent: Confidence is built through competence. Approximately three months after fighting began, the persistence of American Sailors tracking the enemy’s tactics would lead to the sinking of the Japanese ship, Hiei; it would be the first Japanese battleship lost during WWII. Today, we manage the extraordinary talent that exists within our surface force with a view towards building depth, breadth and experience for the future.  

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 2.05.58 PMTools: Enhance naval power at and from the sea. The U.S. Navy had done a lot to enhance ships following World War I, including the addition of Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR). Unfortunately, limited training and previous operational use led to limited confidence by commanders during the Battle of Guadalcanal. Today, weapons and combat system packages are put through extensive testing prior to implementation on operational deployments.

Training: Train like we fight. Battle of Guadalcanal was one of the first multi-service “joint” campaigns endured by American forces. Needless to say, it was a learning-rich environment. Today, we have integrated training that replicates the challenges of operating and sustaining warships in complex scenarios, and joint exercises and operations have become a standard reality.

As much as the Battle of Guadalcanal served to turn the tide of WWII, it now serves to remind us that the state of readiness is imperative to us holding our Nation’s seapower edge.

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