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December 2, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Ships of the Surface Fleet: Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG)

Ships steam in formation

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 15, 2016) Guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94), front, steams in formation with USS Stout (DDG 56), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Monterey (CG 61) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). While at sea, the ships supported a live-fire event conducted as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), the final certification event prior to deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

For a class of ships that got their start in the Navy combating swift, small torpedo boats that could dash in close to the larger ships, loose their torpedoes and dash away, guided missile destroyers have matured and become the long-term endurance runners of the fleet by logging more than a century’s worth of work in support of naval dominance.

Their adaptability and usefulness has led to them becoming the most abundant type of vessel in the U.S. Navy Surface Force — capable of providing both multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, they serve as the backbone of the fleet.

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SOUDA BAY, CRETE, Greece (July 27, 2007) – The guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) arrives in Crete for a routine port visit. Arleigh Burke is the lead ship of her class of guided missile destroyers and is homeported in Norfolk, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Paul Farley/Released)

Modern destroyers can effectively tackle a variety of Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Anti-Surface Warfare missions. Their versatility allows them to operate independently or as part of larger carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, or underway replenishment groups.

The two current variants of destroyers are the Arleigh Burke and Zumwalt classes.

The first Arleigh Burke class ship (DDG 51) was brought into the fleet with a bang, as it shares the country’s birthday. It was commissioned on July 4, 1991.

This class is still in production today though the original design has been upgraded through the years in order to keep pace with capabilities and technology. One of the most prevalent updates is the addition of dual hangars on DDG 79 and later to accommodate embarked helo support. DDG 51-78 only had external landing capability.

Newer ships also receive incorporated advanced sensors, weapons, and improved support systems during construction, while older ships in service undergo a comprehensive mid-life upgrade to ensure all Arleigh Burke class ships maintain mission effectiveness and remain an integral part of the Navy’s Sea Power 21 Plan.

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PHILIPPINE SEA (Sept. 20, 2016) A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile is launched from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) during Valiant Shield 2016. Valiant Shield is a biennial, U.S. only, field-training exercise with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces. This is the sixth exercise in the Valiant Shield series that began in 2006. Stethem is on patrol with Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) in the Philippine Sea supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Command Master Chief Jaret Morris/ Released)

Their vast firepower centers around the Aegis Weapon System which includes the SPY-1D multi-function phased array radar, advanced systems, a Vertical Launch System, and the Tomahawk Weapon System.

With all-steel construction, numerous damage control features, powered and gas turbine propulsion engines capable of achieving 30+ knot speeds in the open seas — they truly are a mobile, lethal, flexible instrument of national power.

The capability of U.S. Navy destroyers will continue to admirably represent the Surface Force on behalf of American interests at home and abroad for generations to come.

Stay tuned as we take a deeper look at the next generation USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) in the coming weeks.

November 23, 2016 / iDriveWarships

A Navy Thanksgiving

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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 26, 2015) Culinary Specialist 2nd Class David Battle prepares sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner aboard USS Bainbridge (DDG 96). Bainbridge, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, homeported in Norfolk, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Morgan Witten/Released)

Whether your family is big or small, if you’ve ever prepared a Thanksgiving meal you know how much work goes into planning the meal, finding and buying all the ingredients, and finally getting everything cooked so that “miraculously” a feast can be enjoyed by all. An incredible amount of effort to deliver your family a wonderful meal — the thought alone is exhausting!

Now, imagine your family consisted of several hundred or a few thousand family members. If you can wrap your mind around that, you can start to get an idea of the mass effort it takes to give U.S. Navy Sailors and Marines a fitting feast on the celebratory day.

“Our Navy culinarians take great pride in providing the annual Thanksgiving meal and seeing the smiles on Sailors and Marines,” said Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Navy Food Service Director Cmdr. Keith Capper. “We know hard being away from family and friends for our deployed shipmates, and that’s why our culinarians go the extra mile in providing a quality meal to improve morale throughout the fleet on this special occasion.”

Service members celebrate Thanksgiving at sea

GULF OF ADEN (Nov. 26, 2015) U.S. Navy Capt. Sean Bailey (center-left), the commanding officer of the USS Arlington (LPD 24) with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Daniel Coleman (center-right), the commander of troops aboard the USS Arlington with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit cut a turkey aboard the USS Arlington to begin the Thanksgiving Day meal while forward deployed in the Gulf of Aden. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long/Released)

NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of- life support to the Navy and joint warfighter. With headquarters in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP oversees logistics programs in the areas of supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, and security assistance. In addition, NAVSUP is responsible for food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods.

Last year, for 2015, NAVSUP ordered an astonishing amount of food for commands around the world to feed Sailors and Marines a hearty meal and the service culinarians did their best with the menus to try to mimic the comforts of a homemade Thanksgiving dinner. But, no matter how good the food, what can’t be matched is the presence of family sharing the meal.

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A snapshot of what it took to feed Sailors and Marines a Thanksgiving meal in 2015. They also consumed: 12,338 lbs. of sweet potatoes, 13,146 lbs. of cornbread stuffing, 6,748 lbs. of corn on the cob, and 1,044 gallons of gravy.

This year as you and your loved ones gather around the dinner table, we respectfully request you take a moment to give thanks for all the servicemembers standing the watch around the globe, spending the holidays away from their families, so their fellow Americans can enjoy them with their family in peace.

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

November 11, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Amazing Patriots and Awesome Individuals — 6 Reasons You Should Welcome Veterans in Your Life!

11th MEU Departs San Diego

SAN DIEGO (Oct. 14, 2016) Marines and Sailors stand at parade rest while manning the rails of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) as it passes under the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, Calif., Oct. 14, 2016. Approximately 250 Marines and 250 Sailors stood along the outside perimeter of the ship’s flight deck as it sailed past San Diego, signifying the beginning of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group/11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Western Pacific 16-2 deployment to the Pacific and Central commands’ areas of operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado/Released) 161014-M-KJ317-117

A patriot is defined as a person who loves and strongly supports, or fights for, their country and its interests. In America, some of the best patriot examples can be found in the veteran community. These amazing people stood up, volunteered, and took an oath to do the nation’s bidding around the world — even if it meant putting themselves in harms way.

To honor them this Veterans Day, we wanted to highlight some of the top attributes that make them so great!

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PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 7, 2010) Survivors of the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor salute as the U.S. Pacific Command Joint Services Color Guard presents the colors during a ceremony commemorating the 69th anniversary of the attack. About 200 survivors and 3,000 members of the public attended the ceremony, which also dedicated the new $56 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, formerly known as the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell/Released) 101207-N-7948R-584

Veterans get the job done, no matter what.  They have an uncanny ability to ‘MacGyver’ any situation as necessary to reach a goal. They can quickly adapt and overcome even the most difficult situations; no matter how often things change. Even if team spirits are down, they persistently push to complete the mission.

Veterans have a sense of humor.  They may have jargon-filled language and an offbeat sense of humor that civilians might struggle to understand at first, but they bring levity to any situation. Whether through combat or everyday military operations, it’s common for Veterans to acquire a quick wit and a playful sense of humor. For some, it’s a way to disconnect from tense moments or tragic events experienced. For others it’s a learned trait formed through bonding…whether they’ve suffered together through the basic procedures of boot camp or the advanced dangers of the battlefield, they understand that laughter makes hard times easier.

Veterans have the best stories, often starting with “one time, my buddies and I were…”  Whether they toured exotic countries with their military friends or were stationed in the backyard of their home state, Veterans usually have a couple astounding stories about their time in service. The unique stories can cover topics like being lost in a foreign land and barely making it back in time for muster, finding ways to manage to amuse themselves during long deployments, or averting near disasters.

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 17, 2016) Sailors assigned to amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) participate in hose handling drills on the flight deck. Comstock, part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is deployed with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in support of the Navy’s maritime strategy in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Abby Rader/Released) 161017-N-TU910-159

Veterans embrace diversity and accept brothers and sisters in arms from all walks of life.  Veterans know they have, and are, fighting for the freedom and protection of every person in our great nation regardless of their cultures, ethnicities, and histories, and they respect anyone that has volunteered to do the same. They see strength in people’s differences, but more importantly they see a person’s character above all else.

Veterans know when to lead a group and when to follow.  They can see when a situation needs a leader to step up, and they won’t shy away from the associated challenges of that position. As important, they recognize when being a follower would be more beneficial to a team’s success — allowing others to lead for the greater good. They have been ingrained with a mentality of leading by example, regardless of role.

Veterans believe in freedom and justice for all, and stand up for those ideals.  It has been said, “A Veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to The ‘United States of America’, for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.” This short statement is a great summary of the sacrifice Veterans are willing to make toward all Americans being created equal to pursue their unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

And we couldn’t be more grateful for the Veterans in our lives.

So with our deepest, most sincere appreciation, we’d like to tell all of our Veterans, “THANK YOU!

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 30, 2012) The amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) sits off the coast of White Beach Naval Facility as the national ensign flies from amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Tortuga is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell/Released) 120830-N-KB563-101

November 4, 2016 / iDriveWarships

F-35 Lightning II Moves Closer to Joining the Fleet

As the U.S. Navy develops the fleet of the future, the Surface Force continues to increase combat readiness by harnessing new ships, weapon systems and emerging technologies. They also continue to build upon their long-standing relationship with the U.S. Marine Corps to project power ashore in a broad spectrum of missions.

F-35B Lightning II Aircraft land aboard USS America for Developmental Test Phase III

PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 29, 2016) An F-35B Lightning II aircraft is taxied on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant is the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft. America, with Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1), Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) embarked, are underway conducting operational testing and the third phase of developmental testing for the F-35B Lightning II aircraft, respectively. The tests will evaluate the full spectrum of joint strike fighter measures of suitability and effectiveness in an at-sea environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Wooddy/Released) 161029-N-AC237-0117

On October 28th, five of the seven Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft scheduled to embark on board the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) arrived to begin some of the final shipboard testing events needed before F-35B detachments can begin operational integration. Moving forward, two of the F-35B aircraft are scheduled to begin the third shipboard phase of developmental tests to evaluate F-35B Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) operations in a high-sea state, shipboard landings, and night operations, while the other five aircraft are slated to conduct routine operational testing.

Sailors and Marines, along with embarked civilians and contractors, will execute these comprehensive series of tests in order to provide Marine aviation personnel with more data and insight into how the F-35B will operate from the decks of amphibious ships. Some tests will simulate extensive shipboard aircraft maintenance, while others will help establish the boundaries of safe operation for the F-35B outfitted with a 3F software configuration. As significant, they will also focus on preparing maintenance crews and pilots for their upcoming first operational deployment of the F-35B aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1).

These tests are important in providing the Navy-Marine Corps team more at sea opportunities to refine the range of requirements needed to safely and effectively manage the emerging requirements associated with integration of technologically advanced STOVL aircraft.

F-35B Lightning II Aircraft land aboard USS America for Developmental Test Phase III

PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 28, 2016) An F-35B Lightning II aircraft launches for the first time off the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Wooddy/Released) 161028-N-AC237-301

The F-35B is a great fit for amphibious operations, where the desired effect is to rapidly launch Marine Corps power into harsh shore environments, based on several unique design features. The aircraft has STOVL abilities coupled with a designed intended to reduce the ability of enemy defense systems or aircraft to detect or engage with weapons because of the aircraft’s Very Low Observable (VLO) stealth capability. As well as the ability to share real-time (networked) access with commanders at sea, in the air or on the ground to give U.S. and coalition partners a view of ongoing operations and battlefield information.

Amphibious Assault Ships also feature aviation-centric ship design that includes an enlarged hangar deck, larger aviation maintenance spaces, a significant increase in parts and equipment storage space, and an increased aviation fuel capacity. But even the first-in-class USS America had to undergo extensive upgrades to the flight deck, interior spaces, and combat systems, to better accommodate the fifth generation fighter aircraft.

As the F-35B comes to the surface fleet the partnership between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Air Combat Elements is sure to continue to strengthen as we work together to maintain maritime superiority and exert sea control in an evolving global landscape.

October 28, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Surface Navy Remembers Medal of Honor Recipients (Part 5)

There is a saying, “true courage is being scared but moving forward despite it.” Many military service members push through moments of fear to accomplish the mission at hand. A prestigious few earn the Medal of Honor award for their brave actions taken in the face of grave danger.

The U.S. Navy’s Surface Fleet currently operates 19 warships named for Medal of Honor recipients. The total will be growing in the near future as nine new vessels honoring Medal of Honor recipients join the fleet. Today we recognize three of the planned additions: the future USS Thomas Hudner, the future USS John Finn, and the future USS Inouye.

Medal of Honor recipient Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr.

Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr.

The future USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) honors Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr. On Dec. 4, 1950, he purposely crashed his plane into an enemy infested area near the Chosin River in an attempt to reach and rescue a fellow U.S. Navy aviator trapped alive in his shot down, burning aircraft. Despite knowing there would be little chance of escaping the enemy, or surviving in the cold of the snowy mountain, Hudner braved a rescue anyway. He even called for a helicopter to assist with the failed rescue attempt; the other downed pilot would ultimately meet his demise from wounds suffered in the crash.

Medal of Honor recipient Navy Lieutenant John William Finn

John William Finn

The future USS John Finn (DDG 113) honors Navy Lieutenant John William Finn. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for steadfastly manning a machine gun during the incoming Japanese attack at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Despite being wounded multiple times, Finn continued to man the open position in the face of heavy machine gun strafing fire from enemy aircraft. He only relinquished weapon control after being ordered to report to a medical facility for treatment of his wounds. Finn would soon return to the squadron and supervise the rearming of returning U.S. military planes.

Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye

Daniel K. Inouye

The future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) honors U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye. In the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy, Inouye swiftly directed his platoon through automatic and small arms fire during an attack to capture an artillery and mortar post on April 21, 1945. The team got within 40 yards of the enemy when crossfire stopped the advance. Inouye then crawled within five yards of an enemy machine gun nest and lobbed in two grenades, destroying the emplacement. He then lunged upright and neutralized a second enemy machine gun post. Inouye was wounded by a sniper’s bullet and an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the wounds, he kept fighting and directing his platoon until they were capable of establishing new defensive positions. Their advance was instrumental in capturing the ridge. Inouye went on to become a long serving senator for the state of Hawaii.

In the face of overwhelming odds and split second life-and-death decisions, these Medal of Honor recipients risked their lives for the safety of their comrades and their nation. Indeed, they looked fear in the eye and charged on despite it. We shall always gratefully remember them for it and look forward to having their namesake ships join the Surface Fleet.

This series will return in a few weeks as the Surface Navy recognizes more Medal of Honor namesakes that will join the fleet. Until then please visit our blog weekly to enjoy other great topics surrounding our U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces.

October 21, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Keeping Our Best

160629-n-cl027-052-660x330SUEZ CANAL (June 29, 2016) Ensign Susan Funk, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), verifies a ship’s bearing while transiting the Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Janweb B. Lagazo/Released)

Guest Blog By: By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden Commander, Naval Surface Forces

It takes top performing division officers to build top performing mid-grade and senior officers – especially those who will command at sea. But in today’s extremely competitive, globally connected world, organizations from all industries are fighting a “war for talent” as they strive to attract – and keep – the best. I am proud to say the same is true in the Surface Warfare community. We need high performing division officers who are committed to becoming top performing department heads and commanding officers, and that improves not only the surface community, but also the Navy as a whole. To that end, I have challenged our community to think differently about how we can attract and retain our very best, and I am extremely pleased with the innovative ways we are retaining and rewarding our top performers.

160926-n-uq938-152-1024x682PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 26, 2016) – Lt. Serg Samndzic and Lt. Aaron Jochimsen, Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) coordinate missile exercise rehearsals on the USS Princeton during an anti-submarine exercise in the Southern California operating area. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Andersen/Released)

But in some ways, this effort isn’t new. In fact, the Departartment Head Retention Bonus (DHRB) marks the latest chapter in a nearly 20-year process of striving to develop a system that rewards the right people at the right time. This process first began with the Surface Warfare Officer Continuation Pay (SWOCP) bonus, which had the simple objective of retaining division officers through the completion of two department head tours. The next evolution was the Revised Junior Critical Skills Retention Bonus (RJCSRB) – a major bonus overhaul that added more money and was designed to retain the critical skills of our junior officers.  As a result, we’ve been able to consistently meet our department head requirements, enabling screening boards to be more selective.

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SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 23, 2015) Lt. j.g. Hasenbank, center, mentors new ensigns as he stands his last officer of the deck watch aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a Singapore Strait transit. (U.S. Navy photo by LT. James Arterberry/Released)

We have found a way to not only measure superior performance at sea, but also a method to reward that performance and retain top performers. Bottom line, the bonus is bigger than just getting division officers to stick around as department heads. It’s about retaining our best so that they can one day help us lead the Navy!

To do this, we have created a program similar to the performance bonuses used by many civilian corporations to reward and retain top talent. This performance-based bonus is a first of its kind for the Department of Defense and not only pays for a skillset, but also rewards officers with extra incentive payments – up to $30,000 – based on fleet performance that results in first or second look selection at the department head screening board.

This tiered incentive program ensures those who screen for advancement to department head at the earliest career opportunity (their first look usually occurs after reaching three years of commissioned service) are eligible to receive three extra payments of $10,000 a year for an ultimate total bonus of $105,000. Officers screening on their second look will receive two incentive payments of $10,000 each in addition to the standard bonus of $75,000 for a bonus totaling $95,000. Those screening a year later on their third look will receive a standard base bonus of $75,000.

150924-n-ox430-106-1024x683ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 24, 2015) Cmdr. Gilbert Clark, executive officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), directs Ensign Christian Diaz as he monitors the course indicator during a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Gaither/Released)

We’re investing in the junior officers who spend months deployed across the globe and those who are permanently forward deployed. We’re investing in those officers who excel at leading Sailors, tirelessly stand the watch, and spend countless hours preparing their ships for deployment. These bonuses allow us to signal the value of superior performance from our junior officers as they move into the role of department head, and continue on to billets as commanding officers, major commanders, and flag officers.

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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 27, 2013) Ensign Stephanie Gies looks for contacts as the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) transits the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Billy Ho/Released)

DHRB is transformational in a way that benefits our 21st century Navy . But make no mistake, this bonus is bigger than just the division officers and our department heads who receive it. This bonus is about creating an environment where our top talent remains in the Surface Navy. Because when our top officers continue to serve, these high performers make every ship in our force better .

There has never been a better time to stay SWO!

This blog first appeared at Navy Live, the official blog of the U.S. Navy.

October 14, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Time Honored Traditions: Ship Commissioning

Pre-Commissioning Unit John P. Murtha (LPD 26) arrives at Naval Station Newport in preparation for the Chief of Naval Operations' 22nd International Seapower Symposium (ISS) at U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Joe Painter/Released) 160916-N-TR360-003

Pre-Commissioning Unit John P. Murtha (LPD 26) arrives at Naval Station Newport in preparation for the Chief of Naval Operations’ 22nd International Seapower Symposium (ISS) at U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Joe Painter/Released) 160916-N-TR360-003

When it comes to commissioning ships, October has been a busy month for the U.S. Navy, particularly for the Surface Force. This month the Surface Navy has already welcomed one new warship, USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), into the fleet and tomorrow, the Navy’s largest, most technologically advanced destroyer, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), will be commissioned.

On top of that, the country’s newest Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS Detroit (LCS 7), is set to be commissioned in just over a week on October 22.

But long before a ship is ready to be commissioned it must be built and outfitted, tested and evaluated, and the crew must learn the ship’s systems. Along the way the ship passes through a series of traditional maritime milestones, qualifications and certifications.

It all begins with a keel laying ceremony. This event represents the formal beginning of the ship and typically recognizes the first joining together of ship components. With the keel laying the ship is officially under construction. After the ship is built it will be christened and launched, both of which usually happen during the same ceremony when the ship is christened with a name and introduced into the water for the first time. Following that, the ship goes through a period of “fitting out” in which important ship’s systems are installed, tested, and evaluated. That process alone often takes about two years.

Sailors assigned to the newly commissioned littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) man the rails during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Melissa K. Russell/Released) 140405-N-RG360-312

Sailors assigned to the newly commissioned littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) man the rails during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Melissa K. Russell/Released) 140405-N-RG360-312

During fitting out numerous systems and equipment are installed and the vessel is transformed into a habitable warship. Systems for spaces like the galley and engineering plant, along with weapon and electronic systems throughout the ship are installed and tested. The ship also undergoes sea trials to ensure everything works as designed while giving the crew an opportunity to get to learn the intricacies of their new warship.

Before hitting the ultimate milestone—commissioning—the vessel and crew are often referred to as a Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) but they’ll change to United States Ship (USS) during the commissioning ceremony. At that point, the crew will be told by the ship’s sponsor to “Bring this ship to life,” which is when ship’s company leave their formation and run to cross the ship’s brow to man the ship and turn on the systems.

Although October has been busy time, each new ship that joins the fleet, like USS John P. Murtha, the future USS Zumwalt, and the future USS Detroit, serve to make our Navy and our Surface Force stronger and better prepared to do America’s work.

 

 

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