Saturday, August 28, 2010

USS Hawaii Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, (NNS) -- The Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific region Aug. 25.

With a crew of 136, this is Hawaii's first Western Pacific deployment and the first time deploying from Pearl Harbor.

Hawaii will be conducting a multitude of missions while assigned to 7th Fleet during the next several months.

"It has been a very busy year for the team as they have made the homeport shift from Groton, Conn., to Pearl Harbor in July 2009 and have progressed through the deployment certification process during most of 2010," said Cmdr. Steve Mack, USS Hawaii commanding officer and a native of Silver Spring, Md. "For a large part of the crew this will be their first deployment and for many it will also be the first time to the Western Pacific. Our goals are to complete all assigned tasking safely and return to our friends and family."

For Sonar Technician Submarine 3rd Class Marquis Perry, from Kansas City, Mo., this will be his first deployment.

"I am very excited and motivated to get underway on deployment where I will finally get the opportunity to utilize my training," said Perry. "I am also looking forward to all of the world travel and experiencing the different cultures of the places we will visit."

Measuring 377 feet long and weighing 7,800 tons when submerged, Hawaii is one of the Navy's newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines.

The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare.
By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 25, 2010 - The Defense Logistics Agency is taking steps to cut costs and boost efficiency as part of a larger effort to reform the way the Pentagon does business, defense officials said today.

"We recognize that we are asking the U.S. Congress and American people for a lot of money to maintain our national security," Robert F. Hale, the Defense Department's comptroller and chief financial officer, told reporters during a teleconference. "We've got to make sure every dollar counts."

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates laid out his plans to reform the way the Pentagon does business and to eliminate duplicative, unnecessary costs. Among his directives, the secretary tasked the services and defense agencies to achieve up to a $100 billion in overhead savings over the next five years.

Joining Hale on the call, Navy Vice Adm. Alan S. Thompson, director of DLA, outlined the steps his agency is taking to comply with Gates' initiative.

"Warfighter support is our organization's primary focus, but along with that comes the need to deliver products and services efficiently and to reduce prices," he said. DLA has taken several steps toward that end, he added, with additional actions planned for upcoming months.

Thompson said DLA will pursue a price reduction of up to 10 percent across the board by providing a greater focus on reasonable prices, incorporating price reduction factors in strategic sourcing opportunities and establishing more long-term contracts.

The agency also will work to improve business efficiency by enhancing documentation to ensure "nonconforming" and counterfeit parts don't enter the Defense Department's supply chain, the admiral said. The Defense Department has a "zero tolerance policy" for suppliers that provide counterfeit parts, and while the majority of suppliers are above board, the agency must weed the others out, he added.

Thompson also touched on a new enterprise business system that's enabling DLA to do a better job of demand planning and forecasting. The enterprise business system, he explained, is the "engine" the DLA uses to run.

"We don't want to underbuy, [and] we don't want to overbuy," he said. "This adds extra costs to our supply chain."

On the information technology front, the agency plans to use a procurement module, called e-procurement, to replace its legacy contract writing capability, Thompson said, and it also plans to merge a number of legacy information technology systems.

An operational evaluation team also is looking to reduce the risk of procurement fraud by seeking potential vulnerabilities and developing risk-mitigation strategies, Thompson noted.

"As a result of the team's work, we've implemented several actions to tighten up our acquisition processes," he said. To leverage buying power, the agency is consolidating purchases across the agency rather than entering into separate, smaller contracts, the admiral explained.

Also, agency officials are meeting with more than a thousand DLA suppliers and potential suppliers to discuss the need to work together to cut costs and increase efficiencies. DLA is a high-volume organization, Thompson noted, executing more than 10,000 contract actions daily. DLA has a history of continuous cost reduction, Thompson said, but it will redouble its efforts to meet Gates' initiative.

"We're focused on warfighter support and, frankly, good stewardship of American taxpayer dollars," he said. "We're going to hold support to the warfighter constant at the very high level we've been providing in recent years."

Volk Field open house a success

By Staff Sgt. Stephen Montgomery
115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Low clouds and uncertain weather didn't keep approximately 3,000 visitors away as Volk Field opened its doors for its biennial open house and air show Saturday (Aug. 21), giving the public a chance to see what the Air National Guard is all about.

"It's a great way to foster the relationship with the community and to help them better understand what we do here," said Lt. Col. Steve Dunai, Volk Field operations director.

There was a Madison-based F-16 Falcon and a Milwaukee-based KC-135 Stratotanker as well as a static display by the 128th Air Control Squadron.

Building and growing the relationship with the local community was one of the key goals of the open house.

"We are proud to be located where we are and this is one way to give back to our neighbors," said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Cullen, Volk airfield manager. "It's an affordable way to have fun and enjoy the day."

Another aspect of the open house was a fly-in for general aviation pilots and an aviation safety seminar hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. There were 145 pre-registered aircraft for the fly-in, some coming from as far as Milwaukee and Green Bay, but due to weather only 20 aircraft were able to make it in.

Some of the pilots flying in were there for the seminar, while others came for "the experience of landing on a military base," Cullen said - something that few civilian pilots ever get to experience.

The air show featured both military and civilian performers and static displays such as a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, F-86 Sabre Jet and T-6A Texan II, as well as displays by the Juneau County Dive Team and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

SECNAV Hosts Chesapeake Bay Commanders Conference

From U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs

ANNAPOLIS (NNS) -- The secretary of the Navy in conjunction with the governor of Maryland hosted the Maryland Chesapeake Bay base commander's conference at the U.S. Naval Academy Aug. 25.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley were joined by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and commanders of military installations in the Chesapeake Bay region.

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest and most biologically diverse estuary in the United States. According to the Chesapeake Bay Project website, the region is home to oysters, more than 350 fish species, hundreds of migratory bird species, approximately 418 million blue crabs and 17 million people.

As the Defense Department's (DoD) Executive Agent, the Department of the Navy is responsible for ensuring all of the 68 DoD installations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed adhere to environmental and clean water standards.

"We all recognize that what happens in the Chesapeake Bay is not just a concern for the people of the Chesapeake Bay," Mabus said during the conference. "It affects our entire country. It affects every American."

Both Mabus and O'Malley stressed partnership between state and federal governments and the military in fighting pollution in the bay area.

"I'm particularly happy that we have every service represented at this conference, because every service has a presence on the bay," said Mabus. "Every one of our armed services has a responsibility to preserve the Chesapeake for those who follow."

The Navy has already made strides toward becoming more environmentally friendly, upgrading wastewater treatment plants at various installations, implemented low-impact development practices to reduce storm water runoff, and applied building construction standards in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system.

The Navy is also buying more hybrid and electric cars, participating in shore restoration projects and partnering with local communities to reduce erosion.

"These projects both improve overall water quality and enhance and improve existing wildlife habitats," Mabus said. He also discussed the importance of the Chesapeake Bay throughout the Navy's history.

"For over two centuries we have been protected by our waters," Mabus said. "It is from this bay that countless thousands of service men and service women have shipped off to a dozen conflicts in order to preserve freedom around the world. It is on this bay, here at the Naval Academy, that we educate future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps."

The Naval Academy has been extensively involved in efforts to study and preserve the Chesapeake Bay. In 2005, the academy established the multidisciplinary Center for Chesapeake Bay Observation and Modeling, bringing together the expertise of engineers and scientists to improve knowledge of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

Since 2008, 82 midshipmen have been involved in Chesapeake Bay research, specifically oyster restoration, through class projects, capstones and independent research.

"We are charged with imbuing our midshipmen with a unique understanding of the special relationship we have with the water," Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller said. "Our profession depends upon a healthy ecosystem, and I believe that if we continue to educate our young men and women here, that can have a profound influence."

The academy's oyster aquaculture project, funded by Naval Sea Systems Command, involves the study of water quality and oyster growth rates, and researching the use of containment structures for both oyster culture and restoration of environmental conditions in College Creek and the Severn River, tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay that border the academy grounds.

MCPON Visits Misawa Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew M. Bradley, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The Navy's most senior enlisted Sailor visited Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 24.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West held an all-hands call and toured the base, visiting with Misawa-based Sailors.

This is West's first visit to Misawa as MCPON - a visit he has been anticipating.

"I've been looking forward to this trip for a long time," said West, as he addressed an audience consisting of hundreds of Sailors during the all-hands call.

MCPON had planned to visit Misawa in 2009, but inclement weather prevented him from making the trip to the northern-Japanese locale.

West made up for lost time by spending more than an hour answering a broad range of Sailors' questions with enthusiasm. He also pointed out that the Navy could not be successful without the very people in attendance.

"You're in the Navy and you get to do something that less than one percent of the country gets to do," said West. "The Navy does extremely well and we're good, not because we have the greatest technology or best platforms, it's Sailors like you that make the Navy so strong."

Navy Career Counselor 1st Class Todd Wean felt the visit was beneficial and offered a real morale boost to the more than 600 Sailors stationed at Misawa.

"I think this visit was good for Sailors here," said Wean. "It shows them that no matter what corner of the world they are stationed, the MCPON will take the time and effort to come out and personally thank them for the job they do."