Military News

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Navy Hosts Senate Energy Subcommittee Hearing


By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Phil Beaufort, U.S. Fleet Forces Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Navy hosted a field hearing for the Senate Energy subcommittee on water and power aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), moored at Naval Station Norfolk, March 12.

The subcommittee received testimony on energy and water policies being implemented by Department of the Navy (DoN) operations and facilities.

During his testimony, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus spoke of the DoN's fuel and water conservation efforts and the importance of energy independence.

"Today, the United States controls just two percent of known global oil reserves, but we consume over 20 percent of the world's oil," said Mabus. "The math is clear, even if we opened up every possible source of oil available to us, it wouldn't be enough to supply our needs."

Mabus said the Navy and Marine Corps cannot remain content or complacent in how they use, produce or procure energy.

"For every dollar charged for a barrel of oil, the [DoN] spends $30 million. When unrest in some oil producing regions broke out last year, the price of a barrel increased by $30, which increased the Navy's fuel bill by over $1 billion," said Mabus. "That additional $1 billion in fuel costs, that we could not have planned for, left us having to take money out of operations, meaning our Sailors and Marines steamed less, flew less and trained less."

Mabus said Navy's investments in biofuels have brought costs down and he believes those prices will continue to come down with increased demand.

"Alternative fuels cannot become competitive with oil unless there is a demand for them. But demand at a commercial scale will never be possible unless there is the supply to meet that demand," said Mabus. "Purchases of small amounts for our research efforts has shown dramatic results in lowering the cost of biofuels, which cost half as much today as they did just two years ago."

Former U.S. Sen. and former Secretary of the Navy John Warner, led one of the panels and spoke about the impact further Navy research and development will have going forward.

"Since we are here to talk specifically about the Navy, I would note that the Navy is on the leading edge across all initiatives, especially when it comes to development and use of biofuel," said Warner. "Navy scientists and engineers have developed great expertise in assessing both the advantages, and even the limitations, of biofuels. Their research and development has proven the concepts of 'drop in fuels' in aircraft and ships."

The Navy plans to launch what Mabus calls the "Great Green Fleet" during this year's Rim of the Pacific Exercise. Mabus said the ships and aircraft of RIMPAC will demonstrate their ability to run on biofuel later this summer and the Green Fleet will deploy operating on biofuel in 2016.

"The Great Green Fleet is not about some environmental agenda," said Mabus. "It is about maintaining America's military and economic leadership across the globe in the 21st Century. In the middle of the 19th Century, it was the Navy that shifted from sail to steam. In the early 20th Century, we shifted again from steam to oil, and in the middle of the 20th Century it was the Navy that pioneered nuclear power. At each of those transitions, there were those who questioned the need, challenged the cost or simply opposed change of any kind."

In addition to the Green Fleet, Mabus unveiled a number of short- and long-term DoN energy goals he said are designed to achieve energy security and independence.

* Energy Efficient Acquisition: Evaluation of energy factors will be mandatory when awarding contracts for systems and buildings.
* Reduce Non-Tactical Petroleum Use: By 2015, DoN will reduce petroleum use in the commercial fleet by 50 percent.
* Increase Alternative Energy Ashore: By 2020, DoN will produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources; 50 percent of DON installations will be net-zero.
* Increase Alternative Energy Use DoN-Wide: By 2020, 50 percent of total DoN energy consumption will come from alternative sources.

"Maximizing the combat capability of our platforms through energy efficiency and energy innovation is what the Navy's energy program is about," said Vice Adm. Philip Cullom, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics.

Cullom addressed the congressional panel about the need to take this sea-change to the deckplate in order for it to succeed.

"We are driving this change through formal education, in the training pipeline and on the deckplate," said Cullom. "With contributions from every Sailor, at every level, we will achieve our energy vision so that we remain 'Paratus et Potens'...'Ready and Able.'"

In addition to Mabus, Warner and Cullom, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Tom Hicks, Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic; Maj. Gen James Kessler, commander of Marine Corps Installations Command; and Col. Bob Charette, director of Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, each provided testimony.

Carl Vinson Marks 30 Years of Service


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Byron C. Linder, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) celebrated the carrier's 30th year of service March 13.

Navy veterans who commissioned the ship joined them from afar as they recalled their service aboard Vinson.

Commissioned March 13, 1982 in Newport News, Va. with Capt. Richard L. Martin as her first commanding officer, the Navy's third Nimitz-class carrier has completed 11 deployments spanning the world's oceans.

"We were named after an American patriot who knew the value of a strong Navy," said Vinson's Commanding Officer Capt. Kent D. Whalen. "Vinson's vision was a Navy that would protect our nation, keep the sea lanes safe for commerce, and sustain the capability to take the fight to any enemy, anywhere in the world."

"When you look at the amount of time Carl Vinson has spent at sea over the last thirty years, it's a tribute to the dedication of every Sailor who's served aboard her. Prolonged success for a ship always equals one thing - and that's exceptional maintenance practices," said Vinson's Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Jeffrey Pickering. "It's something we focus on in 2012 and it's obvious that it was just as important to the Sailors who sailed Vinson for three decades before us."

Vinson Plankowner Boiler Technician 3rd Class Michael Dorgan reported to Carl Vinson in 1981 as part of the pre-commissioning unit (PCU). He said via email that there are multiple moments throughout his tour aboard CVN 70 that stay with him to this day.

"It's a collection of memories of the people I served with as well as the ports of call," he said. "My years of service aboard the Vinson are very special to me, and I will always cherish them."

Mess Specialist 3rd Class Pierre Wheaton, also part of the PCU and a plankowner, shared his fondest memories.

"Watching the ship being brought to life on commissioning day, seeing the ship for the first time at Newport News, and knowing I would be forever affiliated with the greatest carrier in the fleet," are moments he still holds dear, he said in an e-mail exchange.

Carl Vinson was the first modern aircraft carrier to conduct operations in the Bering Sea in 1986. In 1990, the ship earned the first of what would be six Battle Efficiency (Battle "E") awards.

The Discovery Channel boarded Carl Vinson in 1995 to film a documentary titled "Carrier: Fortress at Sea", chronicling the carrier's six-month deployment to and from the Persian Gulf. In 1996 and 1998, Vinson Sailors earned the ship its second and third Battle "E" awards.

Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Casey Hall, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22 from 1997 to 2000, recalled an instance where he relied on his Shipmates after falling overboard during Vinson's 1999 operations in the Arabian Sea.

What sticks with him more than a decade later is "the way the medical staff worked on me after I was brought back on board," he wrote in an e-mail.
Coming together for one purpose and mission is something Vinson has become well known for. On Oct. 7, 2001, Vinson launched America's first air strikes in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, launching more than 4,000 combat sorties. Vinson was recognized with a fourth Battle "E" award for her work that year.

Plankowner Aerographer's Mate 2nd Class (AW) James O'Brien said he felt nothing but pride when he heard of Vinson's involvement in the war on terror.

In 2004, Carl Vinson earned a fifth Battle "E" for her successes in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The ship was the third carrier to undergo a refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) in 2005. When the ship returned to the fleet in 2010, her Sailors remembered what her first commanding officer said to them during their RCOH. "It's the crew's job," Martin said during Vinson's stepping-the-mast ceremony in 2007, "to bring the ship out of the yards with the same kind of spirit that has been with it forever."

Immediately following her RCOH the ship changed homeports from Bremerton, Wash. to San Diego. When she began her transit from Virginia to California intending to go around the Horn of South America, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Vinson changed course just hours after getting underway to provide humanitarian assistance to the island nation as part of Operation Unified Response.

From the flight deck, Vinson provided medical supplies, food, and fresh water to the victims.

Vinson Sailors departed on her first combat deployment since RCOH November 2010 to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, returning June 2011. On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011, Carl Vinson hosted the inaugural Quicken Loans Carrier Classic NCAA basketball game on the ship's flight deck between the Michigan State Spartans and the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Carl Vinson Sailors departed San Diego for her current deployment 19 days later. Vinson was awarded her sixth Battle "E" in February 2012 for her performance the previous deployment.

"You have done us plankowners proud. You've picked up the torch we passed back in the '80s and ran with it in ways I would have never believed," Wheaton said. "Remember to stay modest and humble, and keep working hard to maintain the Vinson's good name. You're part of the best carrier in the best Navy in the world."
Vinson Sailors acknowledged the importance of maintaining the legacy they carry on.

"It is a testament to our naval superiority that with teamwork and a lot of maintenance, this ship is ready for anything," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class (AW) Logan Judd, assigned to Air Department's V-1 Division.

"I'm proud of everything this ship has been through and achieved. It has definitely had a name in the past and has carried that name with honor throughout the years," added Seaman Jessica Hamilton of Deck Department's 3rd Division, temporarily assigned to Supply Department's S-2 Division.

Kearsarge Displays Energy Initiative


By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (AW) Tamara Vaughn, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE, Norfolk, Va. (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) hosted the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources and Chair of the Subcommittee on Water and Power, aboard March 12 to discuss Navy and Marine Corps energy initiative programs.

The committee members toured exhibits showcasing new green technologies which will help the military conserve energy and improve consumption efficiency. Each exhibit provided a glimpse of environmentally friendly equipment that will enhance operational, tactical and fuel efficiency which is critical to the today's military.

"Energy is at the core of everything," said Senate staff member Charles F. Stanton. "With any company, even the Navy, we need to identify our weakness when it comes to energy. With events like this one we can see what new technologies are out there and implement them with today's military. It not only saves money but it is the right thing to do."

The members stopped at each booth, receiving demonstrations by technical experts on alternative fuels and information on programs that provide cleaner forms of energy to help make the military more self sufficient. With record oil prices and the ever-rising cost of energy, maintaining energy security is a priority in today's military.

"Our vessels are powered by fuel," said Rear Adm. Ann C. Phillips, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO. "So anything we can do as the Navy to provide efficiency and flexibility on how - and what - we use to provide that energy, is going to provide us with battle capabilities in the future."

Phillips, who commands amphibious units on the East Coast, noted that energy efficiency is the first step toward finding oil alternatives.

"Being more energy efficient gives us the opportunity to look at other sources of energy other than fossil fuels, which is better for the environment; reduces green house gas; and provides a cleaner source of energy. The Navy's energy policy is the right way to go and to be able to host an event like this and showcase a ship like the Kearsarge, that has been enhanced with energy saving equipment, is the icing on the cake."

The demonstrations educated the committee on energy saving technologies, which will improve operational readiness, lower mission cost, and decrease dependency on foreign oil.

Family Matters Blog: Military Vets Aid Families’ Pets


By Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2012 – Active duty service members and military retirees who own a pet and live near a military installation have a great service at their disposal: veterinary clinics.

Clinic providers ensure the health of our furry friends by providing preventive care and wellness checks.

These clinics are run by the Army's Veterinary Corps, a special group of dedicated soldiers who have a host of missions. They care for pets stateside, handle veterinary medical and surgical care, food safety and defense, and biomedical research and development.

Caring for pets is beneficial not only for the pet owners, but also for the veterinarians, explained Army Col. Robert Vogelsang, program manager for clinical veterinary medicine for U.S. Army Public Health Command. “Along with the primary animal-care mission for military working animals, providing some care to authorized beneficiaries' pets helps veterinarians and technicians sustain skills they need for wartime and contingency operations,” he said.

Animal doctors travel to conflict-affected areas around the world to administer vaccines and other treatments for farmers’ livestock in rural areas and underserved communities where care for animals is limited or unavailable. In many countries, the veterinarians are part of the Army’s civic action teams, meeting with government leaders and helping them with sustainable agricultural programs. These “soft power” programs help build rapport in the community and can help weaken support for insurgent activity, officials said.

Most service members’ primary interaction with the Army’s veterinarians is through the military’s 160 veterinary treatment facilities, which provide wellness checks, preventive medicine and outpatient services.

Veterinary care is funded by nonappropriated funds generated through services charged to pet owners, Vogelsang explained, which limits how much care can be offered. However, clinics try to keep pet owners’ costs reasonable while still covering the expense of clinic operations.

Vogelsang pointed out some common issues Army veterinarians experience when working with military families, including a lack of knowledge of the import and entry requirements when moving to a new installation. He recommended service members contact the Army VTF at their prospective duty station and find out the base’s requirements.

He also addressed the stray animal issue. “Though the vast majority of pet owners consider their pet as a member of the family and take very good care of them, some installations have experienced increases in stray animals assumed to have been abandoned by owners,” he said. “We encourage service families who can't move their pets to find homes for them.”

To stay informed on the latest developments in their field, military veterinarians have a working relationship with the American Veterinary Medical Association, a nonprofit organization representing veterinarians working in private and corporate practice, government, industry, academia and uniformed services.

The AVMA website has numerous videos, pamphlets, and other frequently asked questions on pet care. The website also lists resources for understanding symptoms affecting animals and information on other topics such as disaster preparedness for pets, pet food safety, heartworm prevention, pet first aid and animal dental care.

Taking on the lifetime responsibility to care for an animal is a huge commitment for any family, especially a military family who deals with regular moves. A pet should be a carefully thought-out decision, taking into account alternative homes of care and what pets are able to travel with the family. Our Army veterinarians can provide another great resource to answer your questions and to ensure your pet stays healthy.

(Guest blogger Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly, of U.S. Pacific Command, is the owner of Hawaii Military Pets, which provides pet resources for military families. She’s offered to share her pet-related knowledge in a series of blogs for Family Matters.)