Friday, October 22, 2010

George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group Rescues Sailor at Sea

From USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group search and rescue assets successfully rescued a Sailor at sea who was missing from the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) Oct. 20.

The Sailor was rescued after spending more than five hours in the water off the coast of North Carolina and was transported to USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) for evaluation by the ship's Medical Department.

George H.W. Bush Commanding Officer Chip Miller, said the Sailor was located by another Sailor standing aft lookout aboard USS Philippine Sea (CG 58).

Philippine Sea launched a rigid-hulled inflatable boat to rescue the Sailor, who was then transported to the carrier by Helicopter Combat Sea Squadron (HSC) 9, attached to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8.

"This was a total strike group effort," said Commander, Carrier Strike Group 2 Rear Adm. Nora Tyson. "From the helicopter squadrons and search and rescue swimmers to the shipboard lookouts and medical personnel, everyone played a role in saving this Sailor's life."

At approximately local time, USS Mitscher personnel could not locate the Sailor during a muster of the crew. The ship immediately conducted standard procedures to determine if and when a Sailor went overboard. After a complete personnel roll call, it was determined that the Sailor was not accounted for, and was assumed overboard.

The entire strike group immediately initiated search and rescue operations using all sea and air assets, and the Sailor was rescued at approximately local time.

"This is exactly what I mean when I talk about the awesome teamwork of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group," Tyson said. "I am so incredibly proud of everyone for their commitment and dedication. This Sailor is alive today because we train as we fight, and when the time came, we all knew what to do."

A full investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the incident.

Flags lowered to half-staff in Wisconsin Monday for Marine Cpl. Justin Cain

Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities across the state will fly at half-staff Monday (Oct. 25) in honor of U.S. Marine Cpl. Justin Cain of Manitowoc, Wis., who lost his life while serving his country in Operation Enduring Freedom. The Guard will render these honors in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Jim Doyle.

EXECUTIVE ORDER # 333 reads:

Relating to a Proclamation that the Flag of the United States and the Flag of the State of Wisconsin be Flown at Half-Staff as a Mark of Respect for Corporal Justin Cain of the United States Marine Corps Who Lost His Life While Serving His Country in Operation Enduring Freedom

WHEREAS, on October 13, 2010, Corporal Justin Cain, who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California, died while serving his country in Afghanistan; and

WHEREAS, Corporal Justin Cain provided faithful and honorable service to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the people of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin mourn the death of Corporal Justin Cain; and

WHEREAS, Corporal Justin Cain will be laid to rest on Monday, October 25, 2010;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JIM DOYLE, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me by Federal and State law, do hereby order that the flag of the United States and the flag of the State of Wisconsin shall be flown at half-staff at all buildings, grounds and military installations of the State of Wisconsin equipped with such flags beginning at sunrise on Monday, October 25, 2010, and ending at sundown on that date.

All Wisconsin state government facilities are covered by the governor’s order and a 2007 amendment to the U.S. Flag Code now requires all federal facilities in Wisconsin to comply. Other government agencies, businesses and private residences with flagpoles may also honor Corporal Justin Cain by lowering their U.S. and Wisconsin state flags to half-staff during the daylight hours on Oct. 25.

Coast Guard seizes a ton of marijuana

Written by: LT Connie Braesch

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta Disco, public affairs specialist, and Lt. Ari Fitzwater, CGC Edisto commanding officer, contributed to this post

The Coast Guard interrupted a suspected drug smuggling operation about 40 miles from San Diego last Friday, seizing 25 large bales of marijuana weighing almost a ton.

During a routine air patrol a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento sighted a vessel off the coast of Mexico heading north in international waters. The vessel was operating at speeds in excess of 35 knots without navigation lights, raising the suspicion of the aircrew. They alerted the closest Coast Guard cutter, the Edisto.

As Mexican authorities were being notified, the Edisto diverted to intercept the vessel. As the Edisto set its course and brought engines up to flank speed, the aircrew saw suspicious items floating in the water near where the vessel had been sighted.

Unable to intercept the speeding boat as it evaded authorities into Mexican Territorial Waters, the Edisto proceeded to locate the suspected jettisoned contraband. With the help of the powerful spotlights from the aircraft and Edisto, the cutter’s small boat began retrieving bale after bale of contraband, each weighing approximately 40 to 60 pounds with some closer to 80 pounds. After illuminating the entire area with flares, Edisto confirmed no further contraband was in the water.

The final count was 25 bales, which took up the majority of the open deck space on the 110-foot cutter. The bales later tested positive for marijuana.

“The successful outcome of this interdiction is the direct result of the outstanding teamwork that happens in the Coast Guard every day,” said Lt. Ari Fitzwater, Edisto’s commanding officer.

The bales of marijuana were offloaded from the Edisto on Monday and custody was transferred to members of Maritime Task Force San Diego.

Smoking Lamp Grows Dim On Submarines

By Kevin Copeland and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Todd Schaffer, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Since Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) announced a policy change which would ban smoking below decks aboard all U.S. Navy submarines effective beginning Dec. 31, the efforts by submarine personnel in meeting that goal early has been outstanding.

All levels of submarine force leadership fleet-wide have provided education and training to Sailors since the announcement on April 8, hoping to meet or better the deadline.

"Based on the input from the enlisted leadership, close to 50 percent of our boats have established cessation dates prior to the end of the year deadline, so we are absolutely headed in the right direction," said Cmdr. Mark Bourne, Deputy Force Surgeon at COMSUBFOR. "The senior leadership of the submarine force has done an excellent job communicating to our sailors that the deadline is quickly approaching. We've provided the training as well as the materials to ensure our sailors are successful in making the smoke-free transition."

The change in policy resulted after extensive research revealed the significant exposure to second-hand smoke for all hands within the self-contained environment of submarines at sea.

Once the policy was announced to the fleet, members of the SUBFOR Medical Staff traveled to medical training facilities (MTFs) fleet-wide to train and educate personnel on a Tobacco Cessation Program (TCP) developed by them with guidance and cognizance from the Bureau of Medicine.

Once the staff determined that the MTF personnel were well-versed on all training methods and techniques, they turned the TCP over to them and went into the monitoring mode.

The trained MTF personnel then conducted eight-hour TCP training courses with two tobacco facilitators from each submarine. The submarine facilitators, volunteer non-smokers, are currently conducting weekly TCP training sessions to smokers onboard their submarines. The training program incorporates education techniques and nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum.

However, trained facilitators on each submarine are not part of their medical division.

"The focus of the independent duty corpsman from each submarine will be implementing and monitoring the Tobacco Cessation program," said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman (Submarines) George A. Shelton, COMSUBFOR Force Corpsmen. "From lessons learned in previous efforts in tobacco cessation programs, it has been medical's perspective that the biggest difference makers and best facilitators for these programs are your hard charging first and second class petty officers. These are the Sailors who constantly interact daily with their shipmates on the deckplates while standing watches around the clock."

While the cessation dates for each submarine are set by the commanding officer, the targeted date for each submarine usually aligns itself with other significant events occurring with the boat, such as deployments or upcoming shipyard maintenance periods. Combining shipboard training along with limited smoking hours and smoke-free days established by submarine leadership, has produced some significant successes.

Considering that 40 percent of the submarine force personnel smoke, and 50 percent uses some form of tobacco product, it is a testament to the training and leadership that 21 submarines force-wide are completely smoke-free.

No TCP was more successful than the one onboard the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Blue), home ported in Bangor, Wash. The smoking lamp was extinguished nearly six months prior to the deadline – at on July 27th. The date and time were chosen by leadership to honor the ship's hull number.

"The TCP helped me to get over the hump of needing a routine after-watch cigarette," said Sonar Technician 2nd Class (Submarines) Joseph Camerlin, a 12-year smoker. "I feel really good about not smoking."

According to the boat's senior enlisted personnel, the command's plan was for the Sailors to quit while deployed, and then return home with a fresh start and plenty of support from their family and friends.

"As a former smoker for more than 10 years, I understand the challenges of quitting smoking," said CMDCM(SS) Victor Smith, Michigan blue crew's command master chief. "It is extremely hard to stop when you are at sea. We want our Sailors to be successful, so we decided to put the smoking lamp out during this mission cycle. The day we extinguished the smoking lamp onboard was a significant event in the lives of our Sailors. I cannot think of a more appropriate day to start a new and healthier life than 727 day."

The blue crew onboard the guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729), home ported in Kings Bay, Ga., had a similar success. The commanding officer and command master chief had announced for several months that the smoking lamp would be extinguished on an underway period, August 15, 2010.

"Not being able to smoke onboard after December 31st will be difficult for some," said CMDCM(SS) Richard Rose, blue crew master chief. "This change will be hard, but will be for the better in the long run. Promoting and building a healthier submarine force is the right thing to do for the Sailors in the Navy today."

Flag Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Navy Rear Adm. Gerald R. Beaman for appointment to the rank of Vice Adm. and assignment as commander, Third Fleet, San Diego, Calif.  Beaman is currently serving as deputy chief of staff for Global Force Management and Joint Operations/Concept Development and Experimentation, N3/N5/N9, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.

General Officer Announcement

The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignment:

Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Rock, commandant, Air Command and Staff College and vice commander, Spaatz Center for Officer Education, Air University, Air Education and Training Command, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., to director, Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission - Air Force, U.S. Forces - Iraq, U.S. Central Command, and commander, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Baghdad, Iraq.

Recapitalization: The Fast Response Cutter

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young

For more than two centuries, Coast Guard Cutters have patrolled America’s waterways, executing the service’s missions. In the coming months, the service will welcome a new generation of patrol boat to the fleet in the form of the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (FRC).

The new Sentinel-class patrol boats will patrol 95,000 nautical miles of U.S. coastline to conduct vital port, waterways and coastal security, fishery patrols, search and rescue and national defense missions for our nation.

At 154-feet long, Sentinel-class cutters have space and berthing to accommodate a 23-person mixed-gender crew, allowing the cutter to spend as many as five days underway and will spend 2,500 hours per a year at sea. These extended underway periods, longer than any previous coastal patrol boat, will enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out its underway missions.

Boosting the Coast Guard’s capabilities during security, law enforcement and national defense missions, the FRC will be capable of speeds of 28-plus knots and will be armed with a 25mm chain gun and .50 caliber machine guns.

FRCs will also continue to build on federal, state and local agency partnerships as their integrated command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems are fully capable of operating with existing Coast Guard assets along with those of our partners in the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.

The first FRC, Bernard C. Webber, held its keel laying ceremony on April 9. The cutter is named for one of the service’s most recognizable heroes and is expected to be delivered to its homeport of Miami, Fla. in spring of 2011 where it will support vital law enforcement and national security missions throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Following the commissioning of CGC Bernard C. Webber, all of the anticipated 58 fast response cutters in the Sentinel class will bear the names of heroes who served in the enlisted ranks of the Coast Guard and its predecessor services.

Tune into the Compass a week from today as we launch a series to announce the names of the next 13 FRCs and share the stories of these Coast Guard heroes.

This Day in Naval History - Oct. 21

From the Navy News Service

1797 - USS Constitution is launched at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Mass. The ship is now the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy.
1842 - Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones, commander, Pacific Command mistakenly seizes Monterey, thinking the United States has gone to war with Mexico.
1942 - A British submarine lands Capt. Jerauld Wright and four Army officers at Cherchel, French North Africa, to meet with a French military delegation to learn the French attitude toward future Allied landings.

Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr. to serve as the commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force; commander, Marine Corps Bases, Japan; and commander, Marine Forces Japan and for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general.  Glueck is currently serving as the director of operations and logistics, U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

Soldier Missing in Action from WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Staff Sgt. John R. Simonetti, 26, of Jackson Heights, N.Y., will be buried on Oct. 25 in Arlington National Cemetery.  Following the Normandy invasion, allied troops began the deadly task of engaging regrouped German forces in the pastures, hedgerows and villages of France.  On June 16, 1944, Simonetti was among the advancing infantrymen of the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division.  The soldiers were met with heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire and were forced to stop and take cover before they reached the French town of St. Germain-d’Elle.  During the battle, the Americans sustained heavy losses, including Simonetti.  Two members of his unit later gave conflicting information on the location and disposition of his remains.  In the first account, the witness stated his body could not be recovered due to enemy activity, and the second said his body was evacuated to the battalion aid station.  Two post-war investigations failed to recover his remains and he was declared non-recoverable by a military review board in 1950.

In May 2009, a French construction crew uncovered human remains and military equipment—including Simonetti’s identifications tags—when excavating a site in St. Germain-d’Elle.  French police turned over the remains and artifacts to U.S. officials for analysis. 

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used dental comparisons in the identification of his remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 74,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at or call 703- 699-1169.