Northwest Military Blogs: Fleet Talk

Posts made in: March, 2016 (6) Currently Viewing: 1 - 6 of 6

March 3, 2016 at 11:53am

Disney discusses park for former Clark base

Clark Air Base, once America's largest overseas military installation, could become the Philippines' home of Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy if local boosters get their way.

A January meeting between Walt Disney Co. executives and Philippine President Benigno Aquino, III has created speculation that a theme park could be built on the old air base that U.S. forces vacated after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

The idea of bringing Disney to Clark was originally proposed by Filipino politician Carmelo Lazatin, who, according to Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, wrote to the company in 2012 offering the former base, renamed Clark Freeport Zone, for consideration as an amusement park.

"The Clark Freeport Zone may interest you and Walt Disney as the next location for your famous Disneyland theme park, as it boasts of a 4,400-hectare main zone and 27 600-hectare subzone," he wrote.

The Philippines is already a popular destination for tourists, with an average of four million foreign visitors each year. And Clark Freeport Zone offers tax breaks for investors, Lazatin said.

"Together, with our population of more than ninety million Filipinos, a Disneyland theme park in the Philippines could be a major income generating site for your company," he said in the letter.

The Philippines isn't the only Asian nation keen to turn an old U.S. military base into an amusement park. In December, the mayor of Ginowan City on Okinawa, Japan, suggested Marine Corps Air Station Futenma be developed as a Disney resort when the land returns to Japanese control after U.S. forces relocate to Henoko in the northern part of the prefecture.

Disney, which already has theme parks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, did not immediately respond to questions about the prospect of building a park in the Philippines.

Clark Special Economic Zone chairman Guy Hilbero last week confirmed Aquino's meeting with Disney executives. A sticking point in negotiations has been the cost of the land at Clark, he said.

"The Disney people wanted one hundred hectares of land for free, but nobody can give away that much land for nothing," he said.

There is plenty of land available for development at the old air base, which has already attracted 800 businesses, including tourism operators, factories, information technology companies and schools, Hilbero added.

There's also a proposal to move government offices there from Manila and transform Clark, which now handles civilian traffic, into the Philippines' main international airport.

Development plans have some locals questioning the future of the Angeles City red-light district, which includes hundreds of bars and gentlemen's clubs near the base's old main gate.

John Gilbert, commander of the Angeles City Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, said family-friendly entertainment might be able to co-exist with the bars.

"There's a problem with the personality of Angeles City, but if you tried to make it family-friendly, what if nobody else comes? They need the tourists who come, and if they happen to be single people rather than families, that is how it is for now," he said.

March 4, 2016 at 9:39am

In the swing of things

U.S. Navy photo

There are a multitude of industrial sounds that resonate through the metallic belly of a U.S. Navy warship at sea, but every Sunday aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), the steady, mechanical pulse is infused with vibrant melodies and rippling laughter.

Clad in fitness gear and gym socks, sailors of all ages, ranks and ratings spin, twirl and glide across the makeshift dance floor of Stennis' Training Resource Complex, as they participate in swing dance lessons led by Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Patrick Dent, from Cape Coral, Florida.

"Five years ago I met my wife, and she invited me to my first dance," said Dent. "I had no idea how to dance, and I was absolutely awful on the dance floor. I started taking dance lessons and that's how we fell in love."

Dent partnered with Stennis' Coalition of Sailors Against Destruction Decisions (CSADD) president, Yeoman 2nd Class Demetrius Souza, who has spent the last four years as a Latin dance performer, to promote classes and introduce sailors to healthy, productive activities while on liberty.

"This will provide sailors with a different means to keep themselves occupied," said Souza, from Tampa, Florida. "They get to learn a new technique, or something new for their tool bag, so that when they get back (to Bremerton) they don't necessarily have to go back and hit the bars. They can go out and find a different means of entertainment, specifically dancing."

Souza said that dance has had a positive impact on his life and has provided him with an outlet for staying positive and relieving stress.

Dent and Souza both expressed their delight that Stennis sailors responded so positively to this opportunity. The classes, which run for eight weeks and accommodate 24 sailors per session, reached capacity within four hours. A lengthy waiting list has already formed with sailors eager to participate in the next round of classes.

The classes provided more for participants than simply a Sunday morning distraction.

"I learned how to follow because I'm not very good at following," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Kia Calhoun from Pompano Beach, Florida. "In an environment where it is work, work, work, this was more of a release."

"I've always wanted to do swing," said Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Michaela Sherry from Patton, Pennsylvania. "My entire life I was told I couldn't do it. I even quit gymnastics so I would have more time in my schedule to try and do it, but my parents always said no. So, I've just been waiting for the opportunity to arise and I love it."

Machinist Mate 3rd Class Maximilian Cadena, from Chicago, Illinois, also attended the classes and said the sessions offered a distraction from the stress of his work center.

"It is something to really get you out of your comfort zone and you realize you are actually having more fun than you thought you would," said Cadena. "For that one hour, it takes you away from the stress and anxiety, or the next watch. It is just that little time to clear your head. That way when the time comes, you can go right back to work and do the things that we do."

With each new song and partner rotation, the dance floor became more jubilant and energetic as sailors took a break from the arduous tempo of shipboard life.

Dent said he plans to continue teaching classes for Stennis crewmembers for the duration of deployment and hopes that each participant takes away something personal and meaningful from classes.

Each sailor brings a different motivation to the dance floor, whether it is to relax and have fun or to learn a new skill. For Dent, however, it is a way to feel close and connected to his spouse back at home and continue the dance of his heart until he can meet his love on the dance floor once again.

March 11, 2016 at 12:37pm

Windows 10 for everyone

Louisiana Army National Guard Lt. Col. Henry T. Capello trains members of the Cyber Defense Incident Response Team to respond to cyber events within Louisiana. Louisiana Army National Guard photo by Spc. Garrett L. Dipuma

The Defense Department will deploy Windows 10 departmentwide by 2017 to strengthen cybersecurity and streamline the information technology operating environment, according to a Feb. 26 memo by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.

Work addressed the memo to secretaries of the military departments, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defense undersecretaries, defense agency directors, DoD field activity directors and other senior leaders.

"After consultation with department leadership and through discussions with the DoD chief information officer, I am directing the department to complete a rapid deployment and transition to Microsoft Windows 10 Secure Host Baseline," Work wrote.

"This decision," he added, "is based on the need to strengthen our cybersecurity posture while concurrently streamlining the IT operating environment."

The secure host baseline approach to the transition was developed in partnership with the military departments and other DoD components, including the DoD Chief Information Office, National Security Agency and Defense Information Systems Agency.

The deputy secretary directed U.S. Cyber Command, through U.S. Strategic Command, and in consultation with the CJCS and DoD CIO Terry Halvorsen, to lead the directive's implementation.

Halvorsen said the DoD-wide shift to a single operating system is unprecedented and offers several benefits.

"Transitioning to a single operating system across the department will improve our cybersecurity posture by establishing a common baseline," the CIO said, adding that deploying Windows 10 also will help lower the cost of DoD IT.

March 11, 2016 at 12:45pm

Henry M. Jackson welcomes a new commanding officer

Cmdr. Kevin Macy, left, from El Dorado, Calif., relieves Cmdr. Edward Robledo, from El Paso, Tex., during a change of command ceremony for the Gold crew of the USS Henry M. Jackson. U.S. Navy photo by 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray

The Gold crew of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) conducted a change of command ceremony at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, March 4.

Cmdr. Kevin Macy, from El Dorado, California, relieved Cmdr. Edward Robledo, from El Paso, Texas, and assumed the duties and responsibilities of commanding officer for the Henry M. Jackson Gold crew during the ceremony held at Deterrent Park.

"This is a thirty-one-year-old ship that has been in commission since 1984, and has done ninety patrols; she is our oldest operational ballistic-missile submarine," said Rear Adm. Jeffrey Trussler, Commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center, the guest speaker for the event.

"We build our ships and weapons to work all the time, every time, and we demonstrate it regularly without fail. None of that is routine; all of it is challenging and requires the focus, dedication and commitment of a well-trained, professional crew and a forward-thinking, cool under pressure commanding officer. Well done Cmdr. Robledo and crew of USS Henry M. Jackson."

Robledo assumed command of Henry M. Jackson's Gold crew Sept. 9, 2013. During his 907 days of leadership, the crew conducted four strategic deterrent patrols with 306 days at sea. The boat steamed over 67,000 miles, completed two dry-dock maintenance periods, conducted 10 weeks of midshipmen operations, and had 78 officers and enlisted sailors receive their submarine warfare qualifications, or "dolphins," under his command.

The Gold crew also received Retention Excellence Awards during fiscal years 2014 and 2015, with 49 officer and enlisted re-enlistments performed.

"Now to the superstars of this change of command, my crew; the sailors, chief petty officers, and officers of the greatest warship in the United States Naval arsenal, the crew of the USS Henry M. Jackson," said Robledo. "I stand up here honored and humbled to have been part of and command this great crew. "They had to endure the terms that my wife calls Robledoisms, all while accepting the challenges I gave them; to always strive to become better, ownership and do everything with pride and professionalism."

Robledo's next duty station is the Pentagon, where he will serve on the staff of the Undersea Warfare Division (N97) at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Macy comes to Henry M. Jackson from the Pentagon, where he served as nuclear strike branch chief on the Joint Staff, Operations Directorate (J33).

"For the men of Henry M. Jackson (GOLD), you should be justifiably proud," said Macy. "You have worked hard and won yourselves recognition as one of the top performing teams in the fleet. Well done. More than any other submarines in the force, this charge, to be effective warfighters from the first hour, rings true for us. From the day we take the boat, until we pass it to our reliefs, our commander, our Nation, and our families depend on us to defend their freedom. I am honored to meet this challenge with you."

Henry M. Jackson is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. She is the only U.S. Navy ship to be named after United States Sen. Henry M. Jackson and the only Ohio-class submarine that is not named after a state.

March 17, 2016 at 3:02pm

Kentucky departs for first strategic mission since 2011

The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) departed Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor March 13, for the boat's first strategic deterrent mission since 2011.

Kentucky recently completed a 40-month Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO) to extend the life of the submarine for another 20 years.

"By the time the Engineered Overhaul started in 2012, over twenty-five years after the keel was laid, the boat had been worked hard," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Smith, Engineering and Readiness Officer assigned to Commander, Submarine Group Nine (CSG 9), who served as Kentucky's commanding officer while the boat was in the shipyard. "It was well-maintained by its crews, but the reality is that things break and get old. When I took command in December of 2011, the ship and the crew were tired. They desperately needed the Engineered Refueling Overhaul because it is a rebirth for both the ship and the crew. We looked at the whole process as a recommissioning."

The keel for Kentucky was laid Dec. 18, 1987. Since the boat's commissioning, Kentucky has completed 91 strategic deterrent patrols. Kentucky is one of eight ballistic-missile submarines stationed at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

"The process of returning a strategic deterrent asset, like Kentucky, back to the patrol rotation requires the hard work and dedication of many people, including not just the crew, but also civilian workforce and sailors from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Trident Training Facility, Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific, Intermediate Maintenance Facility, and Submarine Squadrons 17 and 19," said Rear Adm. David Kriete, Commander, Submarine Group Nine. "This deployment demonstrates the teamwork among all these commands and I am extremely proud of them. Returning Kentucky back to patrol is also an important milestone because it reaffirms the credibility of the U.S. SSBN force with both allies and potential adversaries."

After completing the overhaul, the ship and crews had to successfully complete three major certifications. The first was the command and control exercise, which demonstrated the crew's ability to execute the mission and accomplish all required tasking. The second major certification was the Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASO), which determined whether or not the crew could effectively operate and maintain the weapon's systems. During this certification, Kentucky launched two D5 Trident Missiles off the coast of San Diego, California. Finally, there was the nuclear weapons acceptance inspection, which certifies that the crew can safely, securely, and effectively maintain the strategic weapon system.

"It is a challenging thing to get through the last year of an overhaul," said Cmdr. John Hale, Kentucky's Blue crew commanding officer. "There is a lot of work involved as the ship gets out of the shipyard and a lot of thought that it is going to get easier after the shipyard period. But my crew realized that the past eleven months did not get any easier. There were always new challenges. Now they are realizing that all of their hard work meant something, and that this is the challenge that they have been fighting for. We can actually turn that page and face the real challenge of the day-to-day business of being a strategic asset."

Submarines like Kentucky will eventually be replaced by the Ohio-replacement, the next generation of ballistic-missile submarines, which are still in development. Submarines like Kentucky were originally designed to have a 30-year hull life, so major overhauls allow the military to bridge the gap until the new submarines are available.

"I would say that a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into the process of returning the boat to strategic service, and it is something that the crew has worked towards for over a year, ever since the boat left the shipyard," said Kentucky Blue's Chief of the Boat Master Chief Sonar Technician Charles Barton. "No matter how many curve balls the crew has been thrown, they have been able to knock pretty much everything out of the park."

March 31, 2016 at 2:54pm

Great Green Fleet participates in Foal Eagle

John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) from Bremerton, the centerpiece of the U.S. Navy's Great Green Fleet (GGF), joined the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and the Republic of Korea (ROK) air force and navy to participate in Maritime Counter Special Operations Force (MCSOF) exercise, which is part of the annual Foal Eagle (FE16) exercise that wrapped up March 24 on the Korean peninsula and surrounding waters.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 launched 36 sorties to support MCSOF missions, with USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and USS Stockdale (DDG 106), part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, executing maritime air control missions to defend the Korean coastline.

MCSOF focuses on joint and combined defense-in-depth military execution using units over sea, air and land. The goal is to increase the interoperability of U.S. and ROK forces in the Korean Theater of Operations.

Chicago native Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Huck, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron's (HSM) 71 operations officer, said that the MCSOF mission was designed to help defend the Republic of Korea. "For our event specifically, we had U.S. and South Korean aircraft participating, and each aircraft had a specific role."

Ships from Destroyer Squadron 15, based in Yokosuka, Japan, provided forces to augment JCSSG throughout the exercise, further enhancing U.S. and ROK combined tactics and sea control.

As JCSSG executed the MCSOF mission, it also focused on energy conservation and demonstrating the capabilities of the GGF. The purpose of the GGF is to highlight a culture of energy efficiency and flexibility. JCSSG has different operational requirements depending on the mission at hand and completes those missions using as much smart energy use as possible. By using energy efficient systems while conducting operations, JCSSG increases its combat capability, flexibility, deployment range and duration.

FE16 was a series of joint and combined field training exercises conducted by U.S. and ROK Combined Forces Command (CFC) and United States Forces Korea (USFK) component commands (ground, air, naval and special operations). Approximately 10,600 U.S. servicemembers and ROK forces from all services participated.

Six of those ROK servicemembers embarked aboard John C. Stennis to provide cross-training and reinforce better understanding between the two navies. The ROK sailors were given tours of the ship and briefed on routine operations of the embarked air wing.

"The relationship between the U.S. and Korea can become better and stronger than before through this priceless experience," said Lt. Woo, Byung Sung.

The ROK sailors were impressed with the sheer size of John C. Stennis, the amount of personnel on board and most of all, flight operations. They enjoyed their brief of flight operations with John C. Stennis Commanding Officer, Capt. Gregory Huffman, on the bridge.

"I will tell my commanding officer this was a very exciting experience, and I am very appreciative," said Lt. Lee, Hyun Ho.

Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, JCSSG is operating on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

For more news on John C. Stennis Strike Group, visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or www.facebook.com/stennis74.