Military News

Monday, August 01, 2011

Richard Certified 'Operational' Following Maintenance Period

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Kurt Riggs, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

Read about the adventures of the Bonhomme Richard during the War of Independence

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) passed its latest round of operational tests July 29, becoming certified in both amphibious operations and aircraft operations, accomplishing both within two weeks of leaving an extended maintenance period in its homeport of San Diego.

Bonhomme Richard Commanding Officer Capt. Jonathan Harnden credits the crew's hard work and dedication in accomplishing this nearly unprecedented achievement.

"It's never been done this well - and this quickly, that I know of," Harnden said. "Really, the crew deserves all the credit. They're the ones who've just been teeing off on these assessments and drills. It's been a lot of hard work, but the pride, professionalism and preparation is all paying off now. The crew is on fire, and I love being a part of it."

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class (AW/SW) Cherry Pizzarelle, air department leading petty officer, said she is very happy with the accomplishments of her team.

"We're pretty happy to get the assessments out of the way, so now business can return to normal," she said of the crew achieving their certification on the first try. "It sure is nice to know we've got that kind of skill level on board."

Bonhomme Richard is currently underway en route to the Seattle Seafair, an annual maritime-themed festival aimed at displaying naval pride and the resources of the city through several community relations events including ship tours open to the public.

With their operational assessments complete, following a $140 million maintenance and dry dock period, Bonhomme Richard is scheduled to return to its homeport of San Diego following Seattle Seafair.

Overhauled Tennessee, Families Return to Kings Bay

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class(SW) James Kimber, Commander, Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returned to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., July 29, following a 30-month refueling and overhaul (ROH) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

The ROH period required more than 400,000 workdays to ensure the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine can perform its critical global nuclear deterrent missions.

The reactor found in Navy nuclear-powered ships typically uses up its nuclear fuel about halfway through the desired 50-year lifespan. At the same time a ship is refueled, an overhaul is performed to provide extensive maintenance and renovation to extend the ship's service life. This can include removing systems and equipment onboard and replacing them with contemporary equivalents, as Tennessee had with some analog gear being upgraded to digital electronics.

According to the submarine's project supervisor Dennis Bevington, a project manager at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., Tennessee received a thorough cleaning and modernization during the ROH.

"We performed a complete overhaul of its steering and diving systems," said Bevington. "We also overhauled numerous hull valves and components based on the planned maintenance schedule. We then installed the reverse osmosis, a new battery and installed the first alteration on its engineering plant control systems, upgrading it from analog to microprocessor controls."

"This was the first major availability performed on a Trident that had an upgraded missile fire control system," said Bevington. "This made the testing program and follow on operational checks very challenging. The dedication and skill of the mechanics involved was always at the highest level though. We also implemented numerous improvements in our project management strategy."

The improvements included the employment of updated programs like Lean Release 3.0. The streamlined Navy project management program assists planners to better prioritize evolutions during maintenance periods. This maximized efficiency at the executive level leads to increased production in the project team and ship's work force efforts.

"Projects like this cannot be accomplished without the highest level of cooperation and teamwork between the ship and the yard," said Bevington. "Our focus and attention to safety and cleanliness led to the best safety record of any refueling to date. The crew of the Tennessee was the best, most highly motivated group of professionals I have ever seen. Our shipyard team also put in long, hard hours and overcame numerous obstacles along the way. In the end, the Tennessee was a perfect integration of not only the project and the ship, but every single shop and department in the yard. We all got there together as a shipyard team."

The submarine's move from the shipyard in Virginia to the submarine base in Kings Bay may offer battle commanders an additional asset in the protection of national security, but it also created an unavoidable matter for family members living in the Old Dominion: a mass permanent change of station, or PCS.

Tennessee command ombudsman, Michelle King, said the boat's command helped provide as much assistance as needed for families feeling the inevitable stresses of relocation.

"[The command] arranged a Smart Move meeting for the Sailors and their families last February," said King. "The meeting covered change-of-homeport letters, who would be affected and what to know when planning a move back down to Kings Bay. Representatives from personal property, the Camden County Chamber of Commerce, MWR, TRICARE and base housing attended the meeting and provided information to make the transition to Kings Bay a smooth one."

The meeting's name was borrowed from the Naval Supply Systems Command's online portal Smart Web Move, a program developed to help active duty personnel and their families plan and arrange household goods moves from their home computer. Tennessee Family Readiness Group (FRG) president Sarah Suarez said the command's initiative to push this web-based program and in inviting the experts to talk to the soon-to-be travelling families was appreciated.

"Happy families make happy Sailors," Suarez said. "Family readiness practices good moral values for families and because of that it makes a huge impact directly relating to the morale of the Sailor. Our husbands' mission is to go underway, get the job done right and return home safely to their families."

In addition to the command's proactive efforts, the FRG provided support and advice to other families who may have been transferring for the first time, or facing other strains.

"Our purpose is to help our families by building social bonds," Suarez said of the importance of the FRG. "Positive attitudes are more likely to grow along with a better understanding of deployments, and FRG meetings are a great way for the commands to hear the voice of family members."

No meeting was necessary to hear the voice of family members at the homecoming held at the Clubs of Kings Bay on base; this group was glad the Tennessee family was back at homeport.

"[Kings Bay] has such a small town feel to it," said Amy Murray, a Tennessee family member from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. "I have no family in the area, but if I'm ever sick or need help taking care of my son for a few hours, somebody will be at my door probably before I can even get out of my bed. I really like this area."

Jennifer Lanclos, another Tennessee spouse who recently separated from the Navy, said despite the heat and gnats in the southern Georgia summer, she feels the community is very supportive.

"The submarine community is a tight-knit community," said Lanclos, an Afghanistan veteran. "There's good communication and everyone here is friendly and trustworthy."

USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to be named for the Volunteer State.

Navy, Academic Medicine Team Up During LA Navy Week

By Valerie A. Kremer, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

LOS ANGELES (NNS) -- Navy Medicine and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined shared initiatives in humanitarian assistance, family care programs and Wounded Warrior care, as part of Los Angeles Navy Week, July 29.

Rear Adm. Alton Stocks, commander, Navy Medicine East and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP), met with leadership and staff and toured the facility during the visit.

"It was a great opportunity to show the admiral our Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and patient care capabilities, especially since UCLA is involved in helping America's wounded military personnel through our Operation Mend Program," said Shannon O'Kelley, chief operating officer, UCLA Health System. "In addition, it was wonderful to learn more about the extraordinary and tireless care both UCLA and Navy Medicine provided during the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief mission to Haiti last year."

During the visit, top medical personnel and Stocks shared similarities and best practices in Navy Medicine's Project FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) and Wounded Warrior care programs such as UCLA's Operation Mend.

Navy Medicine and UCLA collaborated in 2009 to establish Project FOCUS, a family-centered resiliency training program based on evidence-based interventions that enhance understanding, psychological health, and developmental outcomes for highly stressed children and families.

Stocks expressed his appreciation for the successful collaboration with UCLA on Project FOCUS in caring not only for patients, but the family as well.

UCLA medical personnel also shared their experiences with Stocks about UCLA's Operation Haiti. During this time, UCLA medical personnel contributed medical expertise to the Department of Defense's relief effort in Haiti.

"I have a deep connection to Operation Unified Response, Navy Medicine's humanitarian assistance/disaster relief to Haiti, since many of the Navy medical personnel who worked non-stop providing world-class care, were from NMCP," said Stocks. "We are extremely proud of the work Navy Medicine did in working closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civilian institutions such as UCLA.

During his presentation to staff, Stocks shared how Navy Medicine's emergency medicine and trauma care is a critical piece of the chief of naval operation's maritime strategy. Along with traditional roles like deployments and projecting power abroad, Stocks discussed how international partnerships and providing care through humanitarian assistance missions has further demonstrated how Navy Medicine's emergency medicine and research and development has made an impact on a global scale.

"UCLA plays an outstanding role in supporting the military's mission while providing high quality care to service members and their families," said Stocks. "We look forward to continuing the conversation with shared initiatives with UCLA in the future."

Operation Mend is a unique partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the V.A.-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and has been established to help treat U.S. military personnel severely wounded during service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more than half a century, UCLA Health System has provided outstanding healthcare and the latest in medical technology to the people of Los Angeles and throughout the world. Comprised of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, and the UCLA Medical Group with its wide-reaching system of primary-care and specialty-care offices throughout the region, UCLA Health System is among the most comprehensive and advanced healthcare systems in the world.

Navy Medicine is a global healthcare network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

Los Angeles Navy Week is one of 21 Navy Weeks across the country this year. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they make in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Lincoln Sailors Visit Downtown Disneyland

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Jerine Lee, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

ANAHEIM, Calf. (NNS) -- The happiest place in the world just got happier as Sailors of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) visit Downtown Disney to enjoy the Navy band's performance, the attractions and the support from locals and tourists in celebration of the 2011 L.A. Navy Week, July 27.

Visiting Downtown Disney gave Lincoln Sailors an opportunity to express their gratitude for the patriotism from all civilians. Sailors had the opportunity to shop for souvenirs, eat at hot-spots such as the 'House of Blues' and listen to local bands.

"I think it's great that the Sailors are out here and having some well-deserved relaxation and fun," said Walter Prescott, a fellow Los Angeles native visiting the sites of Downtown Disney. "I am so thankful for their service and hope they enjoy their time in the city."

The Navy Region Southwest Show-band performed songs in support of L.A. Navy Week and to boost morale for the audience.

"I love performing during Navy Weeks because it gives us an opportunity to bring something to civilians, and those who have friends and family in the service," said Musician 2nd Class Heather Downing, a baritone saxophone player, piccolo player and singer for the Navy Region Southwest Show-band. "It's even better when we boost morale for other Sailors. Performing is our way of saying thank you."

The band was great and I had a really great time," said Cryptologic Specialist (Technical) 1st Class Darryl Hitchcock. "We are in a great place with great people, celebrating together."

Navy Week is an opportunity for the officers and crew of the visiting ships to help the Navy showcase the quality of its personnel to local citizens. Lincoln's participation in L.A. Navy Week will demonstrate to area leaders and the general public that the Navy remains an effective and vital tool of national defense and a viable career opportunity for young men and women.

The Navy conducts approximately 20 Navy Weeks each year, reaching out to communities across the country to showcase for Americans the investments they have made toward their national defense.

Participating in L.A. Navy Week 2011 are USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), mine countermeasures ship USS Champion (MCM 4), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and personnel from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 31, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 3 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit 1.

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is in Los Angeles between at-sea training and certification periods ahead of a deployment scheduled for the end of the year.

For more information and a schedule of L.A. Navy Week 2011 events, visit www.navyweek.org/losangeles2011.