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July 14, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Get to Know USS John Finn (DDG 113)

The U.S. Navy‘s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the future USS John Finn (DDG 113), is set to be commissioned in a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii Saturday, July 15. Before the ship named for an American hero joins the fleet on active duty, get to know a little about the ship and it’s namesake, Medal of Honor recipient John Finn. Live video from the commissioning is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. EDT/ 10 a.m. HST and is available by clicking here or visiting go.usa.gov/xNJ6Q.

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USS John Finn (DDG 113), welcome to the fleet!

 

July 7, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Destroyers: “Tin Can” Legacy Forged of Lethal Steel

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 23, 2014) Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to the George Washington and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups are underway in formation at the conclusion of Valiant Shield 2014. Valiant Shield is a U.S.-only exercise integrating Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps assets, offering real-world joint operational experience to develop capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and those of its allies and partners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh/Released)

Destroyers, a.k.a., “Tin Cans”-the legendary Greyhounds of the Sea, have patrolled the world’s oceans with domineering force since 1902. Over the last 116 years, these U.S. Navy warships have made their name as the most unique and capable surface combatants.

This month will see the addition of two of the most lethal and advanced destroyers to ever cut through the seas. Of the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class of destroyers, PCU John Finn (DDG 113) will be commissioned July 15th at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; and PCU Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) will be commissioned July 29th at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California. Both will be homeported at Naval Base San Diego following their commissioning ceremonies.

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PACIFIC OCEAN (June 19, 2014) The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) during a live-fire test of the ship’s aegis weapons system. Over the course of three days, the crew of John Paul Jones successfully engaged six targets, firing a total of five missiles that included four SM-6 models and one Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) model. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

These two ships will serve to advance the well-established stature of the Arleigh Burke destroyers which have been in service since 1991. Logging an incredible amount of water under their collective keels, a robust amount of time is spanned between the oldest and newest ships in the class. To bring continuity of capability across the class, the Navy has implemented programs to modernize the warships as they age, allowing the crews of both older and newer destroyers to monitor, detect and respond to any threat using the same modern Aegis combat system. In this case, the latest upgrade of Aegis, called Baseline 9, brings enhanced ability to the anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense capabilities to the ships.

Arleigh Burke Class: 1991-Present

Named for Adm. Arleigh Burke, the most famous American destroyer officer of WW II, and later Chief of Naval Operations, these guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare. The class leader, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), was commissioned in 1991, during Burke’s lifetime. Like most modern U.S. surface combatants, the DDG 51 class is powered by gas turbine propulsion. They employ four gas turbines to produce 100,000 horsepower through two propellers. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers can achieve more than 30 knots in open seas, while crewed by various sized crew complements.

These ships have been dominating the seas since 1991, and with combat system upgrades, shall continue their reputation of durability and flexibility for years to come. The Aegis software allows for streamline integration – the state-of-the-art system creates an environment for extreme and rapid use of technology, without extreme and rising cost to the Navy. As a result, when the older, modified Arleigh Burke crews put to sea, they won’t be relying on combat systems originated in the Cold War era – they’ll use the same, advanced and evolving systems available to sailors on the newly commissioned USS John Finn and USS Rafael Peralta.

Bonhomme Richard Conducts Fueling at Sea with USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)

PHILIPPINE SEA (June 14, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) maneuvers alongside the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) for a refueling-at-sea. Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of its expeditionary strike group, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to serve as a forward-capability for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Gavin Shields/Released)

Through the years, destroyers have evolved from small and agile close-quarter combatants to ships capable of a multitude of mission sets in both the offensive and defensive arenas. These ships operate independently, as part of a surface action group or as escorts within a carrier strike group. While the heritage is undeniable, of the 33 classes of destroyers, none can argue the versatility, lethality and dominance of the Arleigh Burke class since its introduction to the fleet.

These advanced guided-missile destroyers have been ensuring safety, stability and freedom of the seas around the world for decades. They have a proven track-record of being vital surface warriors, capable of sea control, power projection, and offensive and defensive battle group support over land, air and sea. Their contribution to the Navy team has been invaluable and irreplaceable. It is fitting that the destroyer’s remarkable 116-year legacy of service to the Navy will continue on with this month’s addition of USS John Finn (DDG 113) and USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115).

Caption: U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command’s “Evolution of the Destroyer” infographic.

June 30, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Team Navy Participates in DOD Warrior Games

Warrior Games

CHICAGO (June 29, 2017) Team Navy registers for the 2017 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games at Under Armour Brand House in Chicago, Ill. The DoD Warrior Games are an annual event allowing wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans to compete in Paralympic-style sports including archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Presley/Released) 170629-N-FA913-003

Every service member is intimately familiar with what it’s like to be part of a team; part of something bigger than oneself. Being part of a team can sometimes make the hard times easy and the impossible, possible.

Being on a sports team and participating in sporting events like the Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games can offer wounded, ill, or injured service members a place to find support, understanding, and that feeling of camaraderie.

Team Navy, composed of U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard service members and veterans, is set to compete in the 2017 Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games starting today (June 30) and running until July 8 in Chicago, Illinois.

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CHICAGO (June 30, 2017) Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Emmanuel Gonzalez, from Rialto, Calif., practices before participating in the archery portion for Team Navy during the 2017 Warrior Games at McCormick Place in Chicago. Team Navy is comprised of athletes from Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor, the Navy’s sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill, and injured Sailors and Coast Guard members, providing resources and support to their families. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Schumaker/Released) 170630-N-UK306-072

The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports (athletic activities that are modified to meet the abilities of injured or ill individuals) which are often seen as an essential part of the recuperation of wounded warriors. The proven and lasting benefits of adaptive sports and reconditioning activities include higher self-esteem, lower stress levels and fewer secondary medical conditions.

Participating teams include active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries; serious illnesses; traumatic brain injuries (TBI); amputations; visual impairment; and post-traumatic stress disorder competing in archery, cycling, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and track and field events.

Whether they’re representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, U.S. Special Operations Command, the United Kingdom Armed Forces, or even the Australian Defence Force, friendly competition amongst the Warrior Games’ 265 participants will be fierce as they showcase their fighting spirits.

 

Be sure to follow the DOD Warrior Games website and learn about the personal stories of some Team Navy Sailors at All Hands Magazine.

June 23, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Female Gladiator Sailors Claim Historic First

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ARABIAN GULF (May 14, 2017) Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Wolf, USS Gladiator’s (MCM 11) executive officer, maintains radio contact with crew onboard the Gladiator during shipboard operations in the Arabian Gulf. Gladiator, one of four MCM ships forward deployed to Bahrain and attached to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s Task Force 52, is a mine sweeper/hunter-killer capable of finding, classifying and destroying mines preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Kinney)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Victoria Kinney, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

“Gee, I wish I were man, I’d join the Navy.” These words, from a 1917 recruiting poster of a woman wearing a man’s U.S. Navy uniform and a jaunty ‘Dixie Cup,’ are a relic of bygone era for women in the Navy today.

This is especially so for the ones on board USS Gladiator (MCM 11).

The forward-deployed Avenger-class mine countermeasures (MCM) ship welcomed their first three female chief petty officers to its crew earlier this year. The three chiefs, Chief Logistics Specialist Monique Graves, Chief Personnel Specialist Aracely Sanchez, and Chief Information Technician Nicole Knight, all checked on board between January and March. Gladiator is the first MCM to integrate female enlisted Sailors into their crew.

“When I joined the Navy I didn’t expect to ever be put into a position where I would be the first to do anything,” said Graves, of Chesapeake, Virginia. “I thought I would just do my job and hopefully hit the milestones and my goals, but to be able to say that I was the first in naval history? I never would have thought that would happen for me.”

Female commissioned officers have been serving on MCMs as commanding officers and executive officers for some time, as these positions had separate living quarters. To prepare for the addition of enlisted females, however, the ship was refitted with female living quarters during the ship’s last dry-dock period.

While the berthing might be small, to these Sailors, its meaning is significant.

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ARABIAN GULF (April 7, 2010) The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM 11). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathleen Gorby/Released)

“That piece of metal, that rack, is where we lay our head down at night,” said Sanchez, a native of Tualatin, Oregon. “Just being around this crew makes us feel like we’re a family and makes us feel safe, and that’s what makes us feel like we’re home.”

Sanchez said she had never heard of minesweepers in her 18 years in the Navy. But that didn’t stop her from taking on the challenge of learning and adapting to fulfill her new role.

“It doesn’t matter what gender you are,” said Sanchez. “Leadership comes from your heart and from your experiences.”

Graves agreed, adding that the sky is truly the limit.

“There are so many opportunities available here that you’re not able to do on any other platform,” said Graves. “I could be officer of the deck, combat information center watch officer, or really everything and anything I choose to be.”

“From the start of my career I’ve always wanted to make my own way,” said Knight, a native of Baltimore. “The reason I chose the Navy was to cover a branch of the service that no one else in my family has covered and to set a new path. I used that same logic to make the choice and go into the minesweeping community. I wanted to be a trailblazer for the junior Sailors and show that if I could do it, they could do it.”

Mine Countermeasure Exercise Artemis Trident 2017

ARABIAN GULF (May 27, 2017) The mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM 11) approaches British and French navy ships in the Arabian Gulf to conduct a photo exercise during mine countermeasure exercise Artemis Trident 2017. Artemis Trident is an international exercise, which focuses on the protection of sea-lanes and the free travel of international commerce. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns/Released)

“I think this is a sign of our Navy’s progression,” said Lt. Cmdr. Roosevelt B. White, Gladiator’s commanding officer. “I think this transition has been so effective because of our emphasis on being surface warfare professionals. We strive to foster an environment of dignity and respect no matter race, religion, gender, or sexual preference of any crew member and we do not tolerate any type of disrespect. We look forward to integrating junior enlisted female Sailors in the near future.”

“When I first got here and looked around at the Sailors, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Graves. “Now that I’ve fully embraced it, I’m having the time of my life.”

The MCM community continues to search for eligible applicants for the newly-available billets. Along with a new supply chief, the community is looking for 30 hard-charging junior enlisted women to serve on minesweepers.

 

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Navy.mil.

June 16, 2017 / iDriveWarships

Our Navy’s Mission: How the Surface Forces Fit In

The country and people of Sri Lanka were devastated when heavy rainfall brought by a recent monsoon led to massive flooding and landslides throughout the country. Nearly half and million people were displaced from damaged homes and buildings, or flooded areas. In the wake of this disaster that shattered many regions of Sri Lanka, USS Lake Erie (CG 70) arrived in Colombo, June 11, to provide humanitarian assistance in support of relief efforts. Because of the long-standing friendship between the United States and Sri Lanka, and the Navy’s forward presence throughout the globe, Lake Erie was able to respond quickly with critically needed capabilities. This is just one of many functions of your Surface Navy: to be where it counts, when it counts.

What mission guides all actions of the Surface Navy?

“The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”

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How is this mission achieved?

Sea control means total control of the seas for the free movement of all. It means control of set air, surface, and subsurface areas, when and where needed. Sea control is crucial to national strategy. It allows the Navy to use the oceans as barriers for defense and as avenues to extend influence and assistance where it is needed. Well suited for strategic placement the world over, the surface force employs hundreds of units with advanced capabilities to achieve this function.

Power projection is the ability to use sea power throughout the world in the timely and precise manner needed to accomplish a goal. This covers a wide area. This is accomplished by using a broad spectrum of offensive naval operations. These operations include the tactical employment of carrier-based aircraft and these of amphibious forces and naval gunfire support forces. They also include the strategic nuclear response by the fleet ballistic missile forces. The functions of sea control and power projection are closely related. Depending on the type of force at play, there needs to be some degree of sea control in the sea areas from which we are to project power.

The Navy developed the surface force’s capability to project power largely as one means of achieving or supporting control of the seas. To fill this very broad and general mission statement the many functions of the of surface forces include nuclear deterrence; maintaining forward presence; keeping lines of communication open, safe and secure; leading enhanced training missions with ally and partner navies to exchange and train tactics, techniques and procedures; providing and assisting in regional security and stability; controlling and maintaining the freedom of the seas; reconnaissance and intelligence missions; at-sea rescues; medical programs for ally and partner nations in need of aid, care and training; and assisting the EPA and other government and non-government organizations with marine cleanup.

 

#PresenceMatters
Naval Presence means more than being at the right place at the right time to combat and deter aggression, it means maintaining an operationally ready forward presence to train with ally and partner nations to enhance interoperability and responding at a moment’s notice to provide humanitarian assistance, as demonstrated by Lake Erie’s presence in Sri Lanka. Other ships like USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) who are part of the second “Third Fleet Forward” Surface Action Group and are currently maintaining presence in the Western Pacific while operating with regional navies to conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability in the region.

#PartnershipsMatter
Common interests among the maritime partners allow allied naval forces to implement and sustain economic security assuring safe and secure commerce on the world’s oceans. It also creates and sustains bonds between nations that make responding at a second’s notice to an ally in need, second nature. Ship like Lake Erie assisting Sri Lanka, or the Sri Lanka navy assisting USS Hopper (DDG 70) in an emergency medical evacuation Sept. 30, 2016. Navy officials called on the partner navy to assist Hopper, who was over 165 miles from shore and didn’t have an embarked helicopter aboard nor were they in close range to available U.S. air assets. Within hours, Hopper was approved to enter Sri Lankan territorial waters to conduct the medical evacuation via small boat. The medical team provided continuous care for the patient while Hopper made the best speed to get closer to Sri Lanka.

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#PlatformsMatter
Surface Warfare is the integrator in today’s warfighting disciplines from the tactical to the theater level. The focus of visible U.S. military power and presence is the combat–ready warship operating forward. Therefore, the success of U.S. military power hinges on surface combatants. Prioritizing #WarfightingFirst, creates a strict hierarchy of readiness goals (combat, material and personal) that ensure these many surface combatants are fit to fight. Ships like USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), who was awarded the Spokane Trophy, an annual award presented to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s surface ship with the highest level of operational readiness in areas ranging from coordinated air warfare, surface warfare and undersea warfare operations. #BeReady

 

The U.S. Navy has the distinction and responsibility of being the world’s leading naval power – complete with the surface combatant ships most commonly associate with naval power. America’s Navy is a force as significant today as it has been since 1775. In an increasingly globalized and ever changing world, new challenges will continue to arise and threats will transform and grow more resilient. The multifarious nature of the vast expanse of sea makes the requirement for a robust naval presence all-the-more indispensable. Now, more than ever, the value of a strong and capable Surface Navy is something to be cognizant of, thankful for and necessary for our continued success.

June 9, 2017 / iDriveWarships

USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) things you need to know

In a constantly evolving battle space environment your U.S. Navy surface forces strive to lead the pack in developing the best warfighting and peacekeeping technology to dominate that ever-changing environment. The littoral combat ship program was successfully developed as an integral piece to that mission and continues to be an invaluable tool to maintain sea control. The newest addition to this all-star team of unique, multi-mission platform ships is USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10). Named for after former United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot along with eighteen other people during the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, this Independence-variant LCS is set to commission this week. Here’s what you need to know:

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June 2, 2017 / iDriveWarships

The Battle of Midway – A Turning Point Anchored by Sea Control

 

80G-701853-Jap-Attack-Eastern-IslThis year marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which is believed by many to be the turning point of World War II. The battle was a moment in time when the only thing standing between tyranny and freedom was the United States military. This is a time to commemorate the battle in which the toughness, initiative, integrity and accountability of American Sailors and Marines proved essential to the victory that changed the tide of the war in the Pacific.

Such toughness is embodied in Sailors like Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance who assumed command of Cruiser Division Five on Sept. 17, 1941, served as second in command during operations in the Marshall Islands and at Wake Island in February 1942, and in the same capacity during the Marcus Island operations in the following months. He was Junior Task Force Commander during the Battle of Midway in June 1942, where his force assisted in inflicting the Japanese Navy with its first decisive defeat in three hundred and fifty years.

ed-midway-at-a-glance-gallery3The Distinguished Service Medal Spruance was awarded cited the following: “For exceptionally meritorious service… as Task Force Commander, United States Pacific Fleet, during the Midway engagement which resulted in the defeat of and heavy losses to the enemy fleet, his seamanship, endurance, and tenacity in handling his task force were of the highest quality.”

More than battles and bullets, toughness, initiative, accountability, and integrity of leaders such as this proved the outcome of a decisive victory for allied forces at Midway. Long considered to be a battle fought between U.S. and Imperial aircraft carriers, the lethal and capable American warships, driven by our brave Sailors, ultimately delivered crushing blows to Imperial forces. However, their lethality would not have been possible without the assurances of the operational opportunity in the surrounding waters – battlespace sea control – provided by the surface combatants escorting them.

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Admiral Chester Nimitz, right, commander-in-chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet.

Admiral Chester Nimitz, then Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, another tenacious and insightful leader, and Adm. Isoroku Yamomoto, Japanese Imperial Navy, strategized the same overall objective for the battle for the enemy; sink the enemy aircraft carriers. Each approach, however, contrasted the other. While Yamomoto planned to disperse the Allied forces in such a way that turned groups into single units and make it near impossible for the surface combatants to do their job and maintain sea control, Nimitz saw right through it. In the final analysis, the simplicity of his plan proved there was little purpose for the extensive and unnecessary orders Yamamoto produced prior to the battle. Nimitz, with possessed a clear vision of what he wanted to do and clearly communicated those objectives to his operational commanders. That being said, the simplistically strategy would have been considered ludicrous without the integrity and accountability of the operational commanders who understood the orders and took action.

USS Dewey Lost Bell

The Dewey was commissioned on October 4th 1934. She survived the attack on Pearl Harbor while undergoing tender overhaul. She later formed part of the Enterprise task force at Midway. The Dewey was awarded 13 battle stars for service during World War II.

Under direction from Nimitz, the U.S. force’s goal, made up largely of surface combatants, was to draw the Imperial fleet out, maintain control of the sea and crush the Kido Butai (at the time, the largest Japanese maritime force). The warrior spirit of American Sailors and Marines aboard the seven cruisers and 17 destroyers involved in Midway epitomize maritime superiority by the “Greatest Generation,” and the truth of their actions remains relevant today: the world’s vast oceans and America’s security depend on a capable and credible U.S. Navy.

Surface Combatants Involved in Midway:

  1. Task Group 17.2, Cruiser Group
    1. Rear Adm. William W. Smith, USN
      1. USS Astoria (CA-34)
      2. USS Portland (CA-33)
    2. Task Group 17.4, Destroyer Screen
      1. Gilbert C. Hoover, USN, Commander Destroyer Squadron 2
        1. USS Hammann (DD-412) – torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-168 on 6 June 1942.
        2. USS Hughes (DD-410)
  • USS Morris (DD-417)
  1. USS Anderson (DD-411)
  2. USS Russell (DD-414)
  3. USS Gwin (DD-433) (diverted to join Yorktown, arrived on 5 June 1942)
  1. Task Group 16.2, Cruiser Group
    1. Rear Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid, USN, Commander Cruiser Division 6
      1. USS New Orleans (CA-32)
      2. USS Minneapolis (CA-36)
  • USS Vincennes (CA-44)
  1. USS Northampton (CA-26)
  2. USS Pensacola (CA-24)
  1. Task Group 16.4, Destroyer Screen
    1. Alexander R. Early, USN, Commander Destroyer Squadron 1
      1. USS Phelps (DD-360)
      2. USS Worden (DD-352)
  • USS Monaghan (DD-354)
  1. USS Aylwin (DD-355)
  1. Edward P. Sauer, USN, Destroyer Squadron 6
    1. USS Balch (DD-363)
    2. USS Conyngham (DD-371)
  • USS Benham (DD-397)
  1. USS Ellet (DD-398)
  2. USS Maury (DD-401)
  1. Oiler Group
    1. USS Dewey (DD-349)
    2. USS Monssen (DD-436)

 

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