Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Enterprise Conducts First Underway Ammo Onload in 2 Years

By Yeoman 2nd Class Jarvis T. Griffin, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) began its first major ammunition onload in more than two years with the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) May 25.

This major ammunition movement is scheduled to last three days, and is very dangerous if not expertly conducted by the crews of both vessels.

Enterprise's Weapons department has dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to training personnel, preparing spaces and refurbishing ordnance-handling equipment for the onload.

Due to the amount of ordnance that will be supplied by vertical replenishment (VERTREP) and connected replenishment (CONREP), the operation is expected to run continuously during the daylight hours.

"We are taking on everything Enterprise is slated for," said Master Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) Gregg A. Erwin, Weapons department leading chief petty officer. "The sheer size and scope of this onload makes it uniquely different from the pier-side onload we conducted in April."

The ammunition onload conducted in April lasted just a few hours and was less dangerous. However, this onload is much more challenging and deals with a wider variety of ammunition.

"Safety is paramount," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Michael B. Tune, G-1 division's flight deck leading petty officer. "Our Sailors will be competing with long working hours with new personnel and receiving ordnance at a rapid pace."

The inherent potential for danger involved in VERTREPs and CONREPs is not the only concerns for the crew. The ammunition being brought aboard the ship is live, heavy and very dangerous.

"Everyone needs to pay attention to roped-off areas, because most of the ordnance being transported to the magazines weighs more than 2,000 pounds," said Tune. "Those ropes are for our safety as well as the rest of the crew."

While Enterprise spent more than two years in the shipyard, Weapons department spent that time training their Sailors and updating qualifications in preparation for these types of events.

"I am confident in the department's ability to get the job done safely and efficiently," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Richard J. Corrigan, G-3 division's production leading petty officer. "Our Sailors are highly trained and qualified in all facets of ordnance handling and explosive safety. We are motivated and excited to finally operate within our rating!"

Over the course of the next three days, all hands aboard Enterprise will be involved in the evolution.

"Deck department, Navigation, Air and Supply are making this onload possible," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Melissa J. Sweeting, an ordnance control console operator. "Those departments are playing major roles with us in this [weapons transfer], but it will take a group effort on behalf of every department to successfully complete the onload safely and efficiently."

The crew will have to pay extra attention while moving around the ship during the onload. Large portions of the ship will be roped off and some passageways may be blocked completely.

"We know it will be a discomfort for the entire crew to try and work around us while we conduct this, but we will be working around the clock to get it over with as soon as possible," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Kredrick A. Williams, G-5 division's leading petty officer.

Iwo Jima Arrives for Fleet Week New York

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Morgan E. Dial, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 26, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- The 23rd Annual Fleet Week kicked off with USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) making its way down the Hudson River for the traditional Parade of Ship May 26.

During the parade, Fort Hamilton fired a traditional 11-gun salute from its four-gun battery to honor Iwo Jima, USS De Wert (FFG 45), USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) and USCG Katherine Walker (WLM 552).

All ships paid honor to the site of the World Trade Center by manning the rails and rendering a hand salute by all Sailors topside as the ships passed the site.

The Fleet Week festivities from May 26 to June 2 will feature military static displays and ship tours, which gives the public a chance to experience firsthand the capabilities of the United States maritime services. "It is important to portray the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps in a positive way," said Master at Arms 3rd Class Brian McCafferty. "It lets the public know that we are not only capable of war fighting, but we're also able to roll up our sleeves and contribute to the well-being of the people we have the privilege of protecting."

While in town, the military will be able to volunteer with local community outreach organizations, experience the sights, sounds and hospitality of "the city that never sleeps" and visit places that are forever etched in our history.

"I am looking forward to going back to the World Trade Center Memorial. Last year, I left a message on a card and I want to see if my card was posted on the wall there," said McCafferty.

Sailors, Marines and Coast guardsmen will enjoy the local hospitality while visiting the Big Apple. The city is hosting over 3,000 maritime service members and organizing activities for service members such as Memorial Day parades and concerts, like the Staten Island Fleet Week Music Festival.

"Last year, I really appreciated the hospitality of the local citizens. New York is the friendliest city I've ever visited," said Air Traffic Controlman 2nd Class David W. Bohannon.

Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Gates, Kitazawa Confer on Korea, Futenma Relocation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 26, 2010 - North Korea was at the heart of discussions that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa held at the Pentagon yesterday.

Gates thanked Kitazawa for the Japanese government's strong response to North Korea's sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan in March. An international panel of experts concluded that North Korea fired a torpedo to sink the frigate in the Yellow Sea. The attack killed 46 Republic of Korea sailors.

"Both pledged unified support for the Republic of Korea and agreed to meet with their ROK counterpart for another trilateral meeting in Singapore on the margins of the June Shangri-La Security Conference," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in a written statement provided to reporters following the meeting.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said earlier this week that North Korea's action "cannot be condoned by any means, and Japan, together with the international community, strongly condemns North Korea." He said that Japan would continue close coordination and cooperation for regional peace and stability with the countries concerned, including the Republic of Korea and the United States.

Gates and Kitazawa covered a range of regional and global security issues, said Morrell, who noted the two senior defense officials had an "excellent discussion."

"They obviously discussed the way forward for the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Replacement Facility and the implementation of the military realignment agreement," Morrell said. A 2006 roadmap signed by Japan and the United States would relocate the air base to a much-less settled area of Okinawa. Part of that plan would send 8,000 Marines – now based on Okinawa – to Guam.

Gates and Kitazawa also spoke about the activities of the Chinese navy, and agreed to continue to cooperate and to monitor Chinese actions in the region, according to Morrell.

Gates also thanked Kitazawa for Japan's support for sanctions against Iran and asked for continued cooperation on this matter at the United Nations.

"Both men acknowledged that we face many challenges around the world, but that there are also tremendous opportunities to work together to confront them," Morrell said. "To that end, they agreed to find additional ways to strengthen and deepen the U.S.-Japan Alliance during this, the 50th anniversary of the Security Treaty, including more exchanges and intensified dialog."