Sunday, April 08, 2012

Seawolf Completes Sea Trials after Maintenance Period at PSNS

From Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 5 Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- The attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) returned to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap April 3, after successful sea trials, capping a major maintenance period which lasted more than two years.

"Seawolf has worked hard to return to the fleet, and we are glad to be back at the tip of the spear," said Cmdr. Dan Packer, Seawolf's commanding officer.

For the past 31 months, Seawolf has been at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF), where it underwent a $280 million maintenance package as part of a Depot Modernization Period.

PSNS & IMF has handled all intermediate and depot-level maintenance for Seawolf-class submarines since 2008.

"The Seawolf Depot Modernization Period was very challenging for the shipyard, as this was a first-time major availability for this unique submarine," said Greg Wolfe, Seawolf's project superintendent. "An incredibly talented shipyard management team and seamless teamwork with the ship guaranteed our success through the maintenance period."

While underway for sea trials, Seawolf was put through her paces, testing all systems and verifying that the boat had been restored to full combat capability.

"The talent and professionalism this crew demonstrated in getting our ship underway is a testament to the hard work, training, and dedication of all hands during our maintenance period," Packer said.

Seawolf's next challenge includes a series of training and certification periods for improving the crew's warfighting readiness.

"This crew is confident in their abilities and in the quality work Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Seawolf project management team accomplished over the last two years," Packer said. "We are ecstatic to be at sea again, and Seawolf is even more capable and effective than at any time in her 15 years of service."

Seawolf and the other two submarines in her class - USS Connecticut (SSN 22), also based in Bremerton, and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor - are the fastest, quietest, deepest diving, and most heavily armed fast attack submarines in the fleet.

USS New York Sailors and Marines to Run Around the World

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Carver, Amphibious Squadron 8 Public Affairs

USS NEW YORK, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) are challenging themselves to collectively run enough miles to circumnavigate the earth - a competition that started April 1 and will continue until New York returns home from its maiden deployment to accumulate the 24,900 miles needed to complete the challenge.

Chief Logistics Specialist Carl A. Hunt came up with the idea of running around the world by use of tracking the distance on cardio machines to help encourage physical training.

"So far the ship has tracked 537 miles, which is phenomenal but we need everyone's help to track their cardio distances. I see a lot of Sailors running who are not on there yet," said Chief Hull Maintenance Technician Joshua Boeltz.

"Working out on a ship during deployment can start to become routine, so having something to track and work for can help improve motivation," said Hunt.

"The challenge definitely gets me motivated to get out and do more cardio work," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Cameron Sword. "Having a ship-wide goal to work toward is great for morale and I personally enjoy being able to use all the different cardio equipment the ship offers."

Participants can use a variety of training equipment to complete the challenge, added Hunt. Treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, and rowing machines are all acceptable and track distance.

"It is up to the individual Sailors and Marines participating to track their own distances and put them in a spreadsheet that calculates personal and collective miles," said Hunt.

The deployment-long challenge shows yet another example of blue and green coming together, as a team to accomplish one goal.

"It is cool that this competition is not putting the Sailors against the Marines, instead it helps bring us closer together since we are all working toward a common goal," said Sword.

"The biggest part of this event is not just to challenge our Sailors and Marines, but to encourage fitness and unit cohesion," said Hunt.

New York, on her maiden deployment, is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. New York will support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

Fitness is one of the key elements of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.

White House Announces ‘Joining Forces Challenge’ Winners

From a White House News Release

WASHINGTON  – First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden today announced the five winners and “The People’s Choice Winner” of the Joining Forces Community Challenge, an effort to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary efforts of citizens and organizations across the country that are working to improve the lives of military families.

The announcement comes in advance of the one-year anniversary of the launch of Joining Forces, the national initiative started by the first lady and Dr. Biden to support and honor America’s service members and their families.

The Joining Forces Community Challenge, launched in July, captured the innovative ways Americans have stepped up to support and honor military families.

“Jill and I are so proud of all of these finalists and the work that they have done for our military community,” the first lady said. “Our military families demonstrate such strength, service, and sacrifice every single day, and we’re so grateful for everyone who is stepping up to give back to these families. The challenge winners are leading by example, and showing that all of us can find a way to serve those who serve us.”

Dr. Biden also praised the winners and all efforts to support military families. “As a military mom, I know firsthand the impact a small act of kindness can have on a military family,” she said. “So the great work we have seen through the Joining Forces Community Challenge has been inspiring. I hope others can look to these incredible examples for ways to support service members and military families in their own communities.”

The Joining Forces Community Challenge winners are:

-- Our Family for Families First Foundation, East Greenwich, R.I., also chosen as the “People’s Choice Winner.” The foundation supports military families pursuing higher education by supporting military children through scholarships and military spouses through grants and assistance identifying educational opportunities. Since 2006, Our Family for Families First has provided more than 20,000 hours of outreach in communities surrounding seven military installations, and its scholarship program has given more than $3.5 million in direct scholarship and grant awards to the children and spouses of active duty service members. John G. Picerne, president and chief executive officer of Picerne Military Housing, created the effort.

-- Armed Forces Service Center, St. Paul, Minn. The service center is a 24/7 “all free” lounge staffed by volunteers at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport for active-duty military personnel, their families, activated reservists and National Guardsmen and other members of the uniformed services. Maggie Purdum founded the center in 1970 after her son was killed in action in Vietnam. More than 766,800 active duty service members have passed through the center since its inception, and more than 25,800 military family members have been served since Sept. 11, 2001.

-- Defending the Blue Line, Hastings, Minn. This organization works to ensure that children of military members have access to participate in hockey through free equipment, hockey camps, special events and financial assistance toward association and other hockey-related costs. Since it was founded by two Minnesota National Guard soldiers in 2009, more than 3,000 families across the United States have been served, including more than 300 recipients of hockey equipment, more than 700 children attending hockey camps. In addition, more than 2,000 professional hockey tickets have been donated.

-- Give an Hour, Bethesda, Md. Founded by Washington, D.C.-based psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen, this organization is dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of military personnel, their families, and the communities affected by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of February, Give an Hour had about 6,000 providers across the nation -- in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam -- with more volunteer mental health professionals joining its network every day. In addition to counseling, providers also consult to schools, first responders, employers, and community organizations. Give an Hour has provided nearly 50,000 hours of free service, valued at roughly $5 million.

-- Project Sanctuary, Parker, Colo. This organization brings military families together in the Rocky Mountains after deployments to help them reconnect through recreational activities and therapy. Follow-up support beyond the retreat is also provided, and includes support to families with housing, job placement and veterans’ assistance. Project Sanctuary has hosted 22 therapeutic retreats and is providing support and services to 164 families, 80 percent of which are those of wounded warriors.

-- City of Richfield, Utah. The city has supported its local Army National Guard unit through four deployments since Sept. 11, 2001. Additionally, Richfield provides several programs and services for military families, including a city utility abatement program and distribution of the city’s newspaper to deployed soldiers so they can stay in touch with the community. The Richfield community has contributed more than $250,000 in monetary and in-kind donations to build a Veterans Memorial.

Since 20 finalists were announced in February, the public voted to select Our Family for Families First Foundation as the “People’s Choice Winner.” The additional five winners were selected with input from a panel of judges:

-- Tom Brokaw, NBC News special correspondent and author of five bestsellers, including The Greatest Generation;

-- J.R. Martinez, Iraq war veteran, motivational speaker and “Dancing with the Stars” winner of season 13;

-- Sloan D. Gibson, USO president and CEO;

-- Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, one of the nation’s largest military communities; and

-- Deanie Dempsey, military family advocate and wife of Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

San Diego Arrives in Namesake City

From USS San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS San Diego (LPD 22) arrived in her homeport and namesake city to the cheers of family and friends April 6.

During her maiden voyage from Mississippi to San Diego, the ship stopped in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Cartagena, Colombia; and transited the Panama Canal.

"I am proud of my crew - they sailed this ship for the first time as a team and handled it like seasoned professionals," said Cmdr. Kevin Meyers, commanding officer, San Diego. "They have worked very hard to reach this point. Now we are eager to share San Diego with her hometown."

The arrival of San Diego represents years of work, time and dedication. Construction of the ship began May 23, 2007 at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., and finished when the Navy accepted delivery Dec. 19, 2011. After months of training and certification, they departed the shipyard for California March 15.

The precommissioning crew began reporting to the ship as early as 2009 to train and oversee everything from the loading of equipment to policy creation.

"It is unreal to finally be back in San Diego," said Electrician's Mate 1st Class Manuel Aponte, one of many crew members who have been away from family for as long as two years. "I've been in Mississippi since August 2010 and I can't believe we're finally here. I'm so glad to be back."

San Diego is the sixth ship in the San Antonio class, the fourth ship named for the city and the first "San Diego" to be homeported here. San Diego will also be the only ship in the fleet currently homeported in her namesake city. The ship will be commissioned in San Diego in May 2012.

Navy Recruiting, ROTC Students Honored at NSBE Golden Torch Awards

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (AW/SW) Jeremy J. Siegrist, Navy Recruiting District Pittsburgh Public Affairs

PITTSBURGH (NNS) -- Five Navy-bound college students took home more than $591,000 worth of scholarships during the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 15th Annual Golden Torch Awards ceremony March 31.

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) annual convention concluded three days of events with the special awards ceremony honoring outstanding academic achievement and community and cultural responsibility. The Navy was honored as the diamond sponsor of the awards ceremony.

Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, provided the keynote address for the awards event. Speaking on the extensive ongoing relationship between the Navy and NSBE, Greenert noted the distinct similarities of both organizations.

"They share the same values as our Navy - values of dedication, leadership, and a commitment to values and that is what we are looking for," said Greenert.

The Golden Torch Awards are designed to highlight the accomplishments of distinguished black engineers and technical professionals, as well as college-bound students. Rear Adm. Earl L. Gay, commander, Navy Recruiting Command, joined Greenert in presenting five Navy ROTC scholarship checks to Taykor Mitchman, Gafar Odufuye, Quincy Benbow, Domenick Brunner and Dominique Wilson in front of more than three thousand audience members.

In addition, The Gene Washington Champion of Champions award was presented to Navy Recruiting Commands Diversity Director, Commander Roy Harrison. Harrison, in a moment of humility, acknowledged and re-presented his award to Navy Recruiting Command Chief Navy Counselor Steven Martin. The Champion of Champions award, named after former Minnesota Viking Gene Washington, is presented to one individual each year for their outstanding service to NSBE.

The award ceremony was the culmination of three days of events featuring displays from hundreds of agencies and companies looking for some of the best and brightest engineering students in the world. Greenert was pleased at the caliber of students attending this year's NSBE conference and the opportunity to connect those students to attending Navy recruiters.

"The Navy is all about technology; aeronautical engineering, technical engineering, nuclear engineering," said Greenert. "Every medium we operate in is technical, so it is all about connecting those kids, and having them come in to our Navy and design and repair and maintain our Navy. That is our future."

The three days of events began March 28 with a job fair, the first hour of which was specific to those students with a 3.0 GPA or higher. The highly competitive attendees impressed Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Pittsburgh recruiters, who had no problem finding a multitude of highly qualified applicants to speak with. A second career fair was held on day two, with an entire hour dedicated for outstanding high school students.

Also highlighting the second day of events was a workshop by Capt. Cynthia I. Macri, special assistant to the chief of naval operations for diversity. An accomplished doctor, Macri presented, "Special Delivery! The intersection of Health, Medicine, & Engineering: Adventures in Robotics." Macri's presentation connected the disciplines of engineering and medicine together in a way that was engaging and interactive for all students attending. Using a series of simulation stations, Macri provided opportunities to students to use medical tools and techniques that ranged from surgical manipulation to modern birthing techniques.

NSBE was established in 1975 to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and impact the community positively.