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April 29, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Maintaining the Fleet


USS Spruance (DDG 111) (left) with USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Momsen (DDG 92). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Will Gaskill/Released

Summer is just around the corner and that means fun, sun, and – for many – road trips! To prepare, travelers may change their oil, have brakes serviced, or check the air pressure in their tires. Similarly, U.S. Navy ships must prepare before long voyages, like deployments, to ensure the safety and success of the journey.

Pre-deployment inspections are imperative because deployments generally last about seven months and broken or faulty equipment at sea could be catastrophic. Routine inspections and preventive maintenance help ensure the safety of the ship and Sailors while increasing the vessel and equipment’s longevity and lethality. With the extensive amount of time a ship spends at sea in her lifetime preventive maintenance is also must to combat the effects of corrosive saltwater. It can also save taxpayer money by preventing the need for costly repairs.

Although Sailors always work hard to preserve their ships and systems through training, exercises, and maintenance, there are times when a closer look is needed. This means ships must undergo intense, periodic assessments such as the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) and 3M inspections.


A Sailor checks a fuse box during INSURV preparation. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago/Released

INSURV, completed every 30 months, is considered the fleet’s most intense inspection. The primary purpose is to examine the material readiness of a ship and report its overall condition all the way up to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus. INSURV assesses the condition of a ship’s hull and nearly all of the installed equipment, from engines and propellers to inflatable life jackets and convection ovens. One of the most recent ships to undergo INSURV is USS Momsen (DDG 92)According to this article from Momsen’s official website, INSURV inspectors were extremely impressed with the crew’s knowledge and demeanor and concluded Feb. 11, 2016 that Momsen was in the best material condition possible for her current deployment as part of a Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG). 

Another milestone assessment, Maintenance and Material Management Inspection (3MI), is conducted every two years and closely examines the ship’s ability to perform required maintenance using the ship’s maintenance recommendation and tracking system. This system, often referred to as 3M, outlines when and how to perform both preventive and corrective maintenance on various equipment and systems on board. Just like changing your car’s oil at specific intervals to prolong the engine’s life, the 3M system details all planned points at which systems need to be checked or have maintenance performed. This helps ensure that all equipment on the ship is properly maintained and in good working order. USS Decatur (DDG 73) is one of the most recent ship’s to pass 3MI. On Feb. 29, 2016, just ahead of her current deployment with the aforementioned Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) Decatur announced via their official Facebook page that they earned an outstanding 98% on their inspection. 


A Material Maintenance Management (3M) assessor , left, briefs Sailors about maintenance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Laura Hoover/Released

These inspections, while intensive, are well worth the additional effort they require to help preserve Sailors’ safety and increase the U.S. Navy’s war fighting readiness so we can count on our ships them to be where we need them, when we need them.

April 22, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Surface Forces Recognizes Earth Day Every Day with Great Green Fleet for the Future

earth_day_blog.jpgEvery day millions of Americans try their best to protect our planet; from recycling paper or plastic bottles, to carpooling to work, or driving a hybrid car. It all makes a difference. This year marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, a movement created to inspire and motivate us to find helpful ways to keep our planet cleaner.

The U.S. Navy is celebrating Earth Day this year with the theme “Creating Resiliency Afloat & Ashore,” to support efforts in environmental planning, training, and testing. The Navy’s January launch of the “Great Green Fleet” (GGF) – ships operating with advanced energy saving technologies and running on biofuel blends – is a great example of this year’s theme. The GGF highlights the Navy’s efforts to transform its energy use by demonstrating the usability of biofuel blends and other energy saving technologies that they intend to expand upon.

USS Chung-Hoon

Great Green Fleet ship USS Chung-Hoon

In addition to saving energy, the Navy also wants to save taxpayer money. The biofuel used by the Navy is made from tallow – or beef fat – and is considered a “drop-in” as it doesn’t require the Navy to change any of its engines, transport or delivery equipment, or operational procedures to use it once it’s blended with more expensive traditional fuel. This allows it to be used easily in all surface Navy ships without modifications.

In addition to biofuel, the Navy is using Energy Conservation Measures (ECM), technologies and practices that conserve energy for core mission practices. ECM includes the Shipboard Energy Dashboard, Stern Flaps, Short-Cycle Mission and Recovery Tanking (SMART), Solid State Lighting, and Thermal Management Control System.

While the concept to reduce dependency on traditional fossil fuels and increase energy efficiency was announced back in 2009 by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the ultimate goal is to give Sailors and Marines an advantage and to make them better warfighters. Using biofuels helps this effort by reducing the Navy’s dependency on oil with variable prices and origins in countries that aren’t necessarily friendly to U.S. interests. Decreasing fuel consumption also makes the Navy less vulnerable to logistical issues, allowing ships to stay on station longer and deliver more firepower.

Just as President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet showed the might of the U.S. Navy and our nation as a global power more than 100 years ago, the Great Green Fleet shows how our Navy continues to operate globally, using energy conservation and innovation to provide the presence necessary to ensure stability, deter potential adversaries, and provide options in times of crisis.

April 14, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Ships of the Surface Fleet: Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Ships


USS Chief

USS Chief (MCM 14)  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Frank L. Andrew


When you think “minesweeper” do you think about the computer game from the early ‘90s? You know, the game where you had to use logic (and a bit of luck) to avoid detonating hidden mines and ending your game? Well, the U.S. Navy has its own version of minesweeper and while the goal is similar – to find and either detonate or inactivate mines – ours is anything but fun and games.

Dangerous explosive devices known as sea mines lurk in waterways around the world, capable of damaging or even sinking military and commercial vessels, particularly in sea lanes where the vast majority of the goods needed by people all around the world travel regularly. Here’s something to consider; approximately:

– 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water.

– 80% of the world’s population lives near the sea.

– 90% of all world trade by volume travels by sea.

That’s an awful lot of water to cover and, unlike in the game minesweeper, there is no restart button after a miscalculation.

To combat this threat, the U.S. Navy’s Surface Fleet currently has 11 mine sweeping ships in service. These 224-foot mine countermeasures (MCM) ships manned by a crew of 84 Sailors use sonar and video systems, cable cutters, and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control to find and inactivate or destroy mines, keeping sea lanes clear and safe. Avenger-class MCMs are the only ships in the Surface Fleet constructed with wooden hulls sheathed in fiberglass. This design allows the hull to withstand a nearby blast from a mine and also minimizes their risk of detonating any nearby magnetic mines.


The guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58)  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean P. La Marr

Both technologically sophisticated sea mines and underwater improvised explosive devices pose threats to vessels and have been used to challenge military forces and commercial use of the seas. In fact, 28 years ago today, USS Samuel B. Roberts was struck by a mine during her maiden deployment to the Arabian Gulf in the midst of the Gulf War. Though the ship was saved through the valiant actions of the crew, this mine strike underscored the importance of MCM ships in the fleet, and we continue to utilize and improve mine hunting techniques today.

On April 4, 2016, navies from more than 30 nations kicked off the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX), a training exercise designed to address multiple elements of the maritime security challenge and promote deterrence of threats to global shipping. The event, which is being held in the international waterways of the Middle East, will involve scenarios in mine countermeasures, maritime security operations, and other helpful techniques to address terrorism threats. IMCMEX will conclude on April 26.

Please check back for future installments to learn more about the different types of ships that comprise the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet.

April 5, 2016 / iDriveWarships

U.S. Pacific Fleet Gold Star Wives Continue Service as Ship Sponsors

gold_star_final.jpgToday is Gold Star Wives Day, the day our nation recognizes the hardships and sacrifices of the wives of U.S. Armed Forces members who lost their lives in combat. On Dec. 18, 2010, Congress named the first Gold Star Wives Day, which continues to be observed annually on April 5.

While all Gold Star Wives are valued members of the U.S. Navy family, the U.S. Pacific Surface Fleet has a small number of exceptional women who have taken on an additional distinguished role in Navy history as a ship’s sponsor. Every ship in the Navy has at least one sponsor – sometimes more – selected by the Secretary of the Navy. The sponsor’s role is a significant one as they will participate in life milestones of the ship and create a lasting bond with the ship and crew through ceremonies like christening, commissioning and later, once the ship’s active service life is over, decommissioning.

Birgi Smith USS Freedom Photo Released Lockheed Martin

Birgit Smith christening USS Freedom. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Betty Ann Fitzgerald, widow of Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald, is the sponsor of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62). Lieutenant Fitzgerald was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic, loyal, and selfless actions while providing a safe escape for his personnel during Vietnam.

Birgit Smith, widow of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, is the sponsor of USS Freedom (LCS 1). Sergeant First Class Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He exposed himself to open fire while holding off the enemy to allow wounded soldiers to be safely evacuated from the battlefield.

Lieutenant Colonel Robin L. Higgins (Ret.), widow of Colonel William Rich Higgins, is the sponsor of USS Higgins (DDG 76). Colonel Higgins was taken hostage by pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon in 1988 and later murdered. Since then, she has become a speaker on surviving adversity and terrorism, and author of the book, Patriot Dreams- The Murder of Colonel Rich Higgins. She’s also a former Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

logoThe Navy is committed to providing long term assistance to surviving family members through means like the Navy Gold Star Program.  As we recognize Gold Star Wives Day, please take a moment to honor all Gold Star spouses and families. It is because of service member’s sacrifices and heroism that our nation continues to be great.

April 1, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Anchor Up!

chiefs_square_version 2Guest Blog By: MCCS (SW/AW) Mike Raney (retired)

It is a great day to be a Chief Petty Officer!

I am thankful that today, our United States Navy pauses to celebrate and recognize 123 years of Chief Petty Officers and our role in taking a commanding officer’s guidance and forging a well-trained, effective, and deployment-ready crew.

I wore the cloth of a Chief Petty Officer for 15 years. I was a Y2K Chief, initiated into the Mess aboard USS NASSAU (LHA 4). I didn’t announce my “chiefliness” with bumper stickers or wearing CPO Mess t-shirts on liberty. However, from September of 2000 until my retirement in August of 2015, I wore my khakis with pride. There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t thankful to be a Chief Petty Officer.

To every Sailor who has ever known the burden and pride of wearing CPO anchors, I hope today you renew your faith in the Mess and remember your commitment to lead the way for our Sailors and Navy. Leadership is the job of EVERY Sailor to make our Navy and Mess better.

This is a call to action – not just to members of the Chief’s Mess, but to every Sailor, junior officer, and senior and flag officer across the Fleet. To all who seek more, want better, and aspire for greatness, I challenge you…

…to LEAD. Leadership is very simple because it is all common sense. We are all leaders, regardless of rank, and it is our obligation to train and groom our people to take our place – as we are only in uniform for a finite time.

…to SET THE EXAMPLE. Strive to be the type of leader that you would want to follow. That means doing what is best for the group or getting the mission done correctly, regardless of the effect it has on you personally.

…to COMMUNICATE. Keep your people informed. Be a listener. Many of the best ideas come from within the organization and at the lower pay grades where all of the work is being done. The fresh perspectives, new ideas, and out of the box thinking of your Sailors will carry our Fleet into the future.

…to KNOW YOUR PEOPLE. Empower them. Require results, but allow mistakes.

…to ENCOURAGE TEAMWORK, PARTICIPATION, AND OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE. When it is time for accolades, step to the rear. Leaders don’t need our egos stroked, but our hard-working Sailors need to know they are appreciated.

…to be HUMBLE. There’s no place for bravado or narcissism in our Navy or Chief’s Mess. There is no need for chest thumping or showmanship. Let your positive actions speak for you!

To my fellow Chiefs, may we ALL – through personal example, good management, and moral responsibility – make a positive mark on OUR Navy and definitive influence on the lives of our Sailors.

Happy Birthday and Anchor Up!

MCCS (SW/AW) Mike Raney (retired)

March 25, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Surface Navy Recognizes National Medal of Honor Day


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze

Today we celebrate “National Medal of Honor Day”- a day to remember and reflect on those brave, self-sacrificing individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty. In recognition of those heroes we present the first installment of a five part series highlighting surface force ships whose namesakes were awarded the prestigious decoration.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military award in the nation that was created during the Civil War but signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 21, 1861. The medal is only awarded to U.S. military personnel by the U.S. President in the name of Congress. It was in 1990 that Congress declared March 25 as the National Medal of Honor Day.

The U.S. Surface Fleet presently has 21 naval warships named after Medal of Honor recipients; USS McCampbell, USS Lassen, USS Michael Murphy, and USS Benfold, just to name a few in today’s honor. The Secretary of the Navy, currently Ray Mabus, is in charge of naming the ships after Medal of Honor recipients.

USS McCampbell (DDG 85) is named in honor of Capt. David McCampbell, a naval aviator who was awarded the Medal of Honor and a Navy Cross. He was also named the Navy’s ‘Top Ace and credited with shooting down a total of 34 Japanese airplanes in World War II. McCampbell also received three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, and the Air Medal.

USS Lassen (DDG 82) is named in honor of Lt. Clyde Everett Lassen. He earned the Medal of Honor for his courageous rescue of two downed aviators while commander of a search and rescue helicopter in Vietnam. Lassen became the first naval aviator and the fifth U.S. Navy Sailor to be awarded the nation’s highest military decoration for valor in the Vietnam War.

Both USS McCampbell and USS Lassen are forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) is named after the late Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a SEAL, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave actions in Afghanistan. Lt. Murphy and his team were doing reconnaissance as part of Operation Red Wings. He risked and lost his own life while trying to call for help for his men after being ambushed by more than 50 anti-coalition militia fighters in Afghanistan. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for his bravery in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. USS Murphy’s homeport is in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

USS Benfold (DDG 84) is named in honor of Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Edward C. Benfold who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions when he sacrificed his life to save two Marines while serving with the First Marine Division in Korea. USS Benfold’s homeport is in San Diego, California.

Over the years- the Medal has become a historic symbol of bravery, and a sign of respect to all who have earned it. Currently there are 78 living Medal of Honor recipients and 19 recipients who have received two medals, and it has been awarded to 3,493 individuals.

Please join us in the upcoming weeks as we recognize the remaining 17 surface ships named for heroes in four more installments of Surface Navy Remembers Medal of Honor Recipients.

March 18, 2016 / iDriveWarships

Surface Navy Joins the Nation in Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is dedicated to commemorating the proud and brave women who have made a difference in the nation and their service in the U.S. Navy.

Women have made indispensable contributions to our national defense since the Revolutionary War, but it was in 1908 that women began to serve as official members in the U.S. Navy. The ‘Sacred Twenty was a group of female nurses who, during World War I, were the first female members to formally serve in the Navy representing the Nurse Corps.

Today, women make up about 18 percent of the Navy and there are more than 68,000 women who are currently serving as active and reserve-force personnel.


U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill

Women make numerous contributions to the Navy’s mission and Fleet operations; there are currently 40 active and Reserve flag officers, one Fleet Master Chief, one Force Master Chief, 48 Command Master Chiefs, and four Command Senior Chiefs leading from the front.

In the Surface Warfare community, opportunities in recruiting and retaining both enlisted and commissioned officers continues to grow each year. Women continue to influence, impact, and make history in the Navy today with their spirited and courageous efforts, following the example of the women who paved the way before them. In 2013, many Navy leadership positions were filled for the first time by women.

On July 1, 2014, Adm. Michelle Howard – a Surface Warfare Officer– made naval history becoming the first female and first African American to become a 4-star admiral and be the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

On March 10, 2016, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced approval of the implementation plans developed by each of America’s military services and U.S. special operations forces to integrate women in previously closed combat jobs.

“When I announced my decision back in December to open all career fields to qualified women, I emphasized that the implementation of this change must be handled the right way, because the combat effectiveness of the world’s finest fighting force is paramount,” said Secretary Carter in a released statement. “Having reviewed their exceptionally thorough work, I am pleased all of the services developed plans that will effectively carry out this change and make us even better in the future.”


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes

Women have shown great courage, strength, and sacrifice over the years, and through service and leadership, they have been and continue to be an important part of the Navy’s history and its future.



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