Saturday, August 07, 2010

USS Georgia Returns from Maiden Deployment

By Commander, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- The fourth of the four guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) returns home from its maiden operational deployment as a newly converted SSGN to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., August 7.

USS Georgia (SSGN 729) (Gold), commanded by Capt. Mike Brown, returns to its homeport after a 12-month deployment in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

"These Sailors transformed the ship from a shipyard environment to completing its first deployment, conducting the full spectrum of submarine operations," said Brown.

Georgia has two crews, Blue and Gold, which alternated manning the submarines while on deployment. Each crew completed two deployment periods, swapping crews in Diego Garcia.

"As two crews, team Georgia achieved great success in a myriad of mission areas, demonstrating the SSGNs full capacity to support the combatant commander in forward deployed operations," said Brown.

Georgia's deployment accomplishments include three mission periods supporting national and theater tasking and multiple Tomahawk strike exercises in the European Command and Central Command areas of responsibility. The Kings Bay Trident Refit Facility conducted four voyage repair periods in Diego Garcia to maintain the high operational tempo of Georgia.

"The ship operated for over a year away from home, traversing thousands of miles, piloting many straits, including two liberty ports of call in Souda Bay, Crete, and Manama, Bahrain," said Brown.

Georgia has been homeported in the state of Georgia since December 2007 and is one of two U.S. Navy vessels named after their namesake states that are currently homeported in their namesake state.

"Now it is time for Georgia's Sailors to spend some much deserved time with their family and friends," said Brown. "We sincerely appreciate the continued support of our families, the Kings Bay community, and the citizens fro the great state of Georgia as we prepare for Georgia's next deployment."

Georgia completed its conversion from a ballistic missile submarine to a guided-missile submarine and returned to service March 28, 2008.

Seattle Mariners Host Navy Appreciation Night During Seafair

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Thomas Brennan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-West, Det. Northwest

SEATTLE (NNS) -- The Seattle Mariners hosted a Navy appreciation night at Safeco Field Aug. 6 as part of Seattle Seafair Fleet Week.

Hundreds of Sailors & Marines from the three visiting ships, USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS Port Royal (CG 73) and USS Kidd (DDG 100), and from around the Puget Sound attended the baseball game as the Mariners played against the Kansas City Royals.

Service members received early admission to the ball park to watch the teams warm up prior to the start of the game and had countless pieces of memorabilia signed by several of the major league players.

The Naval Hospital Bremerton color guard paraded the colors, and Navy Northwest Band performed the national anthem, beginning the ceremony. The band also had a concert just prior to the game on the 3rd level of the stadium.

Seattle Mariner outfielder Lee Tinsley made a point of signing for every service member waiting in line for autographs before the game.

"It boils down to taking the time to show my appreciation for the dedication these servicemen and women display while they protect our country, especially when you consider how few games these Sailors actually get to attend," Tinsley said.

It was the least he could do to show his appreciation, Tinsley added.

Along with discounted tickets to the game, service members and their families also received a complimentary party sponsored by the United Service Organization consisting of food, drinks and entertainment.

Service members said they were enjoying their time during the game and Seafair.

"I have been having a great time so far, and I got to do almost everything in town for free," said Atlanta native Gas Turbine System Technician Mechanical 3rd Class Jeremy Hammock, who is stationed aboard USS Port Royal (CG 73).

Another Sailor from USS Green Bay (LPD 20), Boatswain's Mate 1st Class(SW) Munira Ferah said people have been very friendly.

Before the game began 50 new recruits from the Seattle Navy recruiting office took their oaths.

Seafair is a month-long event sponsored by the city of Seattle. During the last week of Seafair, the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Canadian navy participate in the event. Visiting ships are available for tours, allowing the public get an up close look at the life of a Sailor. Service members, their families and the general public also have the opportunity to attend an air show featuring the Blue Angels performing over Lake Washington, as well as hydroplane races.

MCPON Visits USS Kearsarge

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike Lenart, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The master chief petty officer of the Navy (MCPON) visited the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) to meet and speak with chief petty officers and crew Aug. 5.

MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West came aboard Kearsarge to not only meet with the crew, but to field their questions and address their concerns.

His visit began in the chief's mess, where West spoke about the exceptional level at which Kearsarge has performed during its preparation for its fall 2010 deployment.

"This ship and its crew are ready to support our 15,000 Sailors on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan," said West. "I can't wait to come out to Kearsarge while you are in the 5th Fleet area of operation to see Sailors doing what the deckplate leadership has prepared them for."

On his way through the hangar bay to the flight deck to address the crew, West witnessed some of the hard work he spoke of as Sailors were busy moving supplies and stores aboard in preparation for their certification exercise scheduled for the week of Aug. 9.

"It's the hard work and dedication of every Sailor that makes this ship and our Navy the force it is today," said West.

Keeping those hard-working Sailors in the Navy is one of the many areas West talked about with the crew as they gathered around the Navy's highest enlisted leader on the flight deck.

"Right now the Navy has a very high retention rate and a very low attrition rate," said West. "There is a year-long wait just to get into the Navy. About four times a week I get a Facebook message from Sailors who got out of the Navy wanting to know how to get back in. If you make the decision to leave the Navy, it needs to be carefully thought out because coming back may not be easy."

As if to emphasize his point that the Navy is holding on to its best and brightest, West took a moment to frock Chief Air Traffic Controller David Buehner to the rank of senior chief, an honor that Buehner said meant the world to him.

"How many people can say the MCPON promoted them?" said Buehner. "This was a thrilling experience, and I am honored he took the time to recognize me and my family."

West also spoke about important programs in the Navy, such as perform to serve (PTS), individual augmentees (IA) and warfare qualifications.

"Warfare qualifications couldn't be any more important," said West. "When a Sailor earns a surface warfare pin, it's telling everyone that they know what they need to do to fight the ship in case of a casualty."

For Quartermaster Seaman Ashley DeArmitt, the MCPON's stressing of the importance of warfare qualifications has given her the motivation to complete the program.

"He put everything in perspective when it comes to earning your pin," said DeArmitt. "It's something I've always known I had to do, but now I want to do it for me and the ship. You never know when you may need to use the knowledge you acquire on the way to earning your pin."

West also took time to pose for photos and speak one-on-one with Sailors, something that DeArmitt said she will remember for some time to come.

"I feel honored that out of all of the ships on the waterfront, he came to Kearsarge," said DeArmitt. "I have a lot of respect for him. He has reached the pinnacle of the enlisted Sailor, but he started as a quartermaster seaman, just like me."

West is the 12th Sailor to hold the Navy's highest enlisted rank and serve as the enlisted advisor to the chief of naval operations.

Marking 20 Years Since Operation Desert Shield

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 7, 2010 - When Iraqi forces began pouring over the border into neighboring Kuwait, most Americans would have had a hard time finding the country on a map.

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein ordered his troops to occupy Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990 – calling the oil-rich nation Iraq's "19th province."

At the top of the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is a strategic country. It is a prominent member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Controlling Kuwait meant that Iraq would significantly increase its share of the world's oil reserves.

The world was shocked by the Iraqi move, and neighboring Saudi Arabia was alarmed. No one was sure whether Iraq would stop at the border with Saudi Arabia or move forces into some of the most productive oil fields in the world.

A total of 140,000 Iraqi soldiers, supported by 850 tanks, entered Kuwait on Aug. 2. While tensions with Iraq were high, Kuwait had not alerted its forces. Iraqi aircraft bombed Kuwait City and the air bases in the country. Kuwaiti army units launched attacks against the invading forces, but they were far outnumbered, and the ruling family barely was able to escape to Saudi Arabia before Iraqi forces ringed Kuwait City.

Kuwait turned to the United Nations, and the Security Council passed a resolution calling for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and asking member nations to work together toward that goal.

President George H.W. Bush ordered American air, sea and ground forces to Saudi Arabia, beginning Operation Desert Shield on Aug. 7, 1990. That day, the Air Force sent 48 F-15 fighters of the 1st Fighter Wing from Langley Air Force Base, Va., to Saudi Arabia, where they immediately began patrolling the Saudi-Kuwait-Iraq border areas. The Navy sent the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Independence carrier battle groups to the region. The Army and Marine Corps mobilized to send ground forces to Saudi Arabia, with the leading edge of the Army's 82nd and 101st airborne divisions arriving Aug. 8.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Colin L. Powell began a schedule of near-constant traveling to meet with counterparts around the world.

Those other nations hurried troops, ships and aircraft to the area, where they fell in on the American and Saudi forces and what was left of the Kuwaiti military. The coalition that eventually formed was broad-based, and included 34 nations from Argentina to Bangladesh. Iraqi neighbors Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt also participated to roll back the aggression.

The troops landed in Saudi Arabia during the hottest time of the year. Anyone who can afford to tries to leave Saudi Arabia in August; the temperatures regularly rise to more than 130 degrees, and the prevailing winds from the Persian Gulf bring humidity. The media were full of pictures of American servicemembers slamming down bottles of water as sweat stained their "chocolate chip" desert camouflage uniforms.

In the United States, Desert Shield necessitated the first major call-up of reserve component forces since the war in Korea. Under an order Bush signed on Aug. 22, National Guard and other reserve-component forces reported for duty.

The coalition commander they reported to was Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. The media called him "Stormin' Norman." A West Point graduate who had served in Vietnam, Schwarzkopf had been the commander of U.S. Central Command since 1988. One of the plans on Centcom's shelf was the defense of the oil fields against an Iraqi invasion.

At the time, the Iraqi army was the fourth-largest in the world. American planners stressed the force was battle tested and had a large percentage of combat veterans from the Iran-Iraq War in its ranks. That war – the first launched by Saddam Hussein – lasted from 1980 to 1988, and Iraq held its own against a country three times larger. Centcom officials expected a battle to drive Iraq out of Kuwait would be long and costly.

At the beginning of August, there was little that would halt any Iraqi offensive into Saudi Arabia. By the middle of the month, air, sea and ground assets had grown. By the end of August, Desert Shield had grown to be able to defeat any attack into Saudi Arabia.

Now the question was: What next?

Father, Daughter Share Aircraft Heritage

By Greg Allen
27th Special Operations Wing

Aug. 6, 2010 - While many daughters may share similar interests with their fathers, one noncommissioned officer here relates the challenges of her job with an understanding dad. He's been there and done that.

When retired Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 William Seibt learned that his daughter, Jennifer, was going to be promoted from technical sergeant to master sergeant July 30, he made the trip here from Hillsboro, Ore., to share the event with her. As a retired avionics officer for a Coast Guard C-130, he got the opportunity to revisit his old airframe, albeit a 73rd Special Operations Squadron MC-130W Dragon Spear, courtesy of his loadmaster daughter.

"We had a different philosophy in the Coast Guard," he said as he looked at the electronic panels of the aircraft. "I fixed the equipment on the ground and was a navigator in the air."

He recognized most of the electronic panels as if 20 years had not passed since he retired, pointing his finger at various components. "That's the same, and that's the same, but over there, that's different," he said. He then tapped the frame holding the electronic components and said, "This used to be all mine."

After he had satisfied himself with a personal self-inspection, his daughter steered him through the rest of the aircraft, explaining its various configurations and capabilities. When she approached the back of the plane, she waved her hand over the neatly stacked pallets of equipment and announced, "This is all mine."

Sergeant Seibt grew up in a military environment. She was with her dad as he served three tours in Alaska: two in Kodiak, and one in Sitka. She lived in Astoria, Ore., and Elizabeth City, N.C. When her time came to serve, she joined the Air Force. Initially she worked in vehicle operations at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, but has been a loadmaster for the last seven years.

"When I was at Ramstein in vehicle ops, I was told that my personality might be better suited for that of a loadmaster," she said. "I took this as an incentive to crosstrain. I'm glad I did."

She said that perhaps the family tie to flying in airplanes was genetic. Her grandfather was a member of one of the first Army Air Forces units that became today's Air Force.

"He would tell me the stories about when he was a loadmaster during the Berlin Blockade," she said.

Although the two served in different services, their common bond with the venerable C-130 airframe has made their personal relationship grow stronger over the years, the Seibts said.