Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono Visits Navy Test and Training Facility

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan,
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- U.S. Senator from Hawaii Mazie Keiko Hirono, a member of the Democratic Party, visited Fleet Integrated Synthetic Test and Training Facility (FIST2FAC) at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Detachment Pacific on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, March 20.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, one of Hirono's missions is seeking to further explore the areas of research and development within the realm of national defense as well as to learn more about the collaboration to support needs specific to the local area of responsibility.

"I serve on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee," said Hirono. "I often visit centers and facilities so that I can better understand and be supportive of all of the people that are here and the work that they do."

Hirono toured the training facilities to learn about daily procedures at the command, education that is provided to service members in operations at sea, and observed training as well as meeting the civilian and military personnel who operate the facilities and attend the training.

Lt. j.g. Beth Reed, anti-submarine warfare officer stationed aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) was one of the Sailors who had a chance to meet and speak Hirono upon completion of her training tour.

"I think it is great that the Senator is coming by and meeting with personnel in uniform, it's a good civilian-military interaction," said Reed. "We can show her a little bit about cutting-edge technology that is being developed in her state of Hawaii."

Reed also spoke about the services and training provided by FIST2FAC to service members stationed on the island.

"It is a state of the art facility; it's hard to simulate what you actually do at sea but they have done a very good job simulating the command and control climate aboard an actual ship," said Reed. "It is a great tool for training and for keeping skills fresh while ships are in port."

Senator Hirono was introduced to the current and future goals of the training facilities and its activities. The FIST2FAC staff also provided demonstrations of several simulation stations of Navy destroyer such as the bridge, bridge wing, combat information center, small caliber weapon stations and others.

"This is the first time that I have visited this center," said Hirono. "I will make sure that this center is a very important part of our naval warfare, and that it will stay in Hawaii and continue to maintain jobs and be a part of national security."

Hirono is slated to visit other facilities in Hawaii including the University of Hawaii Applied Research Laboratory and the Maui High Performance Computing Center.

According to the U.S. Defense Department Science Blog, FIST2FAC provides an affordable, adaptive way to train. It combines a hassle-free setup, software and gaming technology to help naval forces develop strategies for a variety of missions and operations. "FIST2FAC allows Sailors to 'train like they fight' by presenting realistic forces in a visual, tactical and operational environment," said Glenn White, Office of Naval Research's integration and transition manager for the project.

"This is the future of training for the Navy," said Dr. Terry Allard, head of ONR's Warfighter Performance Department. "With simulation, you can explore endless possibilities without the expense and logistical challenges of putting hundreds of ships at sea and aircraft in the sky." FIST2FAC allows sailors to interact with artificially intelligent forces in countless settings and train for multiple missions simultaneously. The system can replicate simple and complex situations involving aircraft carriers, helicopters, lethal and nonlethal weapons, and more.

Ashes of Pearl Harbor Survivor Theodore F. Roosevelt Interred Aboard USS Utah

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tiarra Fulgham, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor Quartermaster 2nd Class Theodore Franklin Roosevelt were interred at the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during a ceremony held in his honor, March 20.

Roosevelt, a distant relative of former U.S. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, was born April 24, 1924 in West Allis, Wis., and joined the Navy shortly after his 17th birthday.

After graduating from boot camp he was briefly assigned in Long Beach and later requested to be transferred to the battleship USS Utah (BB 31).

On the morning of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt was three decks below the main deck of USS Utah when the call was given for Sailors to man their "bombing" stations.

"These areas were to protect the crew from falling bombs, however this time bombs were not the problem," said Pearl Harbor Survivor Liaison Jim Taylor. "The ship took two torpedoes, and everyone had to change their locations and get to the main decks."

Following the strikes to Utah, the ship began to take on water and could not maintain watertight integrity due to open compartment hatches.

Taylor recalled the story of this infamous day and spoke about how Roosevelt never forgot the scene he witnessed watching Sailors drown because they could not escape their spaces.

"When Roosevelt got to the main deck he faced machine gun bullets flying all over the place, he took cover under gun turrets and at the same time the ship was rolling over," said Taylor. "He still didn't know what was going on, he only thought it was weird and that someone had really screwed up a training evolution."

Capt. Lawrence A. Scruggs, U.S. Navy deputy commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, spoke about the importance of the Utah and her crew in the Pacific Fleet during her years in service.

"Utah and her crew played an important role in developing the Navy's cutting edge technology, breeding innovation and delivering combat ready ships, planes and crews," said Scruggs. "She was the ship that trained thousands of Pacific Fleet Sailors until Dec. 7, 1941"

It was Roosevelt's wish to have his remains brought back to Hawaii so he could be reunited with his shipmates who lost their lives during the 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor.

"Interments in Pearl Harbor, both at the USS Arizona and the USS Utah, are unique ceremonies that we are all honored to take part in," said Amanda Carona, ranger at the National Park Service. "It is an opportunity that not many people can say they have had, but it is an obligation we do not take lightly. We are proud to stand with the United States Navy to return Sailors back to their brothers-in-arms that were lost just over 72 years ago."

Interment ceremonies are rare events, having fewer than 40 interments of remains on Utah and Arizona. The Navy began interring and scattering ashes of Pearl Harbor survivors in the late 1980s. Only survivors of the Arizona and Utah may return after death to their ships.

Divers from the National Park Service returned Roosevelt's ashes to the site of the attacks to join his shipmates and received full military honors including a flag presentation to his family, playing of Taps and a three-volley rifle salute from members of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonies and a member of the Pacific Fleet Band.

Navy Continues Effort to Combat Hazing Among Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Military customs and traditions are an integral part of the Navy and for the Sailors that serve today. As part of the Navy's efforts to ensure a safe, professional working environment Sailors need to understand the distinction between honorable, traditional ceremonies and actions that go too far.

According to Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, Director, Military Personnel Plans and Policy, hazing is considered to have occurred when a Sailor is exposed to cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning, or harmful activities by another Sailor or group of Sailors. Hazing can be physical, verbal, or psychological in nature and is contrary to the Navy's core values of honor, courage, and commitment.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Jacob Terry, stationed aboard the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) explained how hazing has the potential to essentially weaken the Navy.

"Hazing degrades operational readiness," said Terry. "If Sailors are being hazed they do not fill comfortable in a workspace, they are unable to operate at the conditions they normally would."

"I think hazing has been significantly reduced, a lot of the things that have been set in place have made it to where it's not an everyday occurrence. Clearly defining traditions is important. 'Tacking on crows' used to come from everyone stitching in and it turned into where people would pound them in. 'Stitching on crows' or 'tacking on crows' is a great tradition, but then it became more than was originally intended. So clearly defining what the traditions are and how they should be carried out is key," said Terry.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hatt, assigned to Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) N70, the distinctions between naval traditions of the past and the core values of today's Navy are important to maintain.

"Hazing has a severe, detrimental impact on combat readiness and operational readiness. It can have significant impact on how we get the job done," said Hatt. "Traditions don't demean, and that's the key. Traditions are there to make you feel good about service. Tradition may be a reading of a passage from a historical event during submarine qualifications whereas hazing at the same event may include tacking on the dolphins, for example, it may not be perceived as demeaning, but it may be hurtful and cause pain. It also establishes aggressiveness over an individual."

Hatt emphasized the importance of including Sailors of every rank in the efforts to effectively combat hazing.

"The only way I see hazing to be eliminated is through deckplate leadership. We have to continue to have a stance that we have as an organization that demeaning and hurtful activities are eliminated from our force through petty officers second classes and petty officers first classes as well as chiefs not accepting that type of behavior," said Hatt.

"For those who are subjected to hazing, it takes away from the hard work that they do, specifically in the submarine force, and depending on the extent of the hazing, it can take that individual out from doing his or her duties. It has impact on whether or not they enjoy their service to their country. As for persons initiating the hazing, the negative impact is the wrong spirit of service. Service to our country is honor, tradition. A person who acts on hazing brings dishonor to that service," added Hatt.

The Navy Office of Hazing Prevention is adding information about hazing incidents to a database, a standalone online web-based program that tracks and reports administrative actions associated with the primary duties of Equal Opportunity advisors and Command Managed Equal Opportunity program managers.

Tracking these hazing events can aid in determining the extent that these events are occurring, the type of events and keeping track of trends. Incidents of hazing are reported by the Navy Office of Hazing Prevention to the Chief of Naval Personnel.

Hospitalman William Brown, assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24 at Kaneohe Bay, deals with hazing in his workspace by focusing on prevention and creating the appropriate work environment.

"If there is hazing in a work center or in a workspace, the work is not going to be done as efficiently as it could be," said Brown. "In the past, hazing was a lot more prevalent. Now we started educating people and we talk more about hazing, and actually punishing people for hazing outside of what Navy traditions are, it has been greatly reduced over the past few years."
Seaman Apprentice Ruben Nunez, Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Detachment Pearl Harbor, explained how respect relates to hazing.

"The Navy is definitely trying to get away from hazing, and it isn't as bad as it was before," said Nunez. "Some people don't have the same mind set as others when it comes to hazing and they act upon it. I think if my chief, for example, were to haze me, I would look at my chief in a different way, I would not respect him and rather experience fear than respect. I think there always will be some form of hazing, when anything gets to the point where it disrespects people it is a problem," added Nunez.

The Department of Navy policy on hazing can be found in SECNAVINST 1610.2A, where it emphasizes that Sailors and Marines are our most valuable resources and that DON leadership has a responsibility to create and maintain an environment free from hazing.

Bonhomme Richards Sailors, Marines Celebrate Women of Character, Courage and Commitment

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Carla Burdt, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 Public Affairs

EAST CHINA SEA (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) gathered for a Women's History Month celebration, March 21.

In keeping with this year's theme, "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment," Chief Intelligence Specialist Sha'keena Sparks spoke about the opportunities available to women today because of the trailblazers who came before them.

"I am proud to say that I am consistently amazed to see how far we have come and where we continue to go," said Sparks. "I'd like to tell each of you that I am extremely envious of you. I am envious of you because of the doors that are open for you and the opportunities that are in front of you."

Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eleven Capt. Heidi Agle spoke of what Women's History Month truly means in her keynote address. She explained that the month is dedicated to women who broke down barriers, created opportunities, and gave their lives in the service to their country.

"March is designated as women's history month, and it is a chance to acknowledge past pioneers, thank the heroes of today and inspire future leaders," said Agle. "It is a reminder that, if we believe in ourselves, we can make a difference. Our Nations' military holds a wealth of heroes who encourage us and provide examples of how to make that difference."

Currently, women make up 14 percent of the U.S. military. There are more than 165,000 enlisted women and 35,000 officers. Nearly every Naval community is open to women both ashore and afloat.

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the U.S. military ban on women serving in combat, overturning a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to ground combat units. In a letter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Panetta said, "The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service."

Blue Ridge Strengthens Ties During Visit To Manila

By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jeff Troutman, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

MANILA, Philippines (NNS) -- U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) departed Manila after a four-day port visit, March 22.

During the visit, crew members, Sailors from embarked 7th Fleet, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12, and Marines from Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific participated in several military-to-military exchanges with Republic of Philippines Navy (RPN), which included guided ship tours, a friendly sports competition, and a reception hosted by RPN.

"The reception was a great opportunity to reinforce our partnership with the Philippine navy," said Senior Chief Electronics Technician Darin Vazquez. "These engagements are important for our respective militaries, because we're partners with the same interests in this part of the world."

Sailors from Blue Ridge and RPN competed in friendly basketball and soccer games. Blue Ridge has a longstanding tradition of engaging in sporting events with host-nation military members.

"Our soccer match with the Philippine navy was the highlight of this port visit for me," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Christopher Dugas. "Both of our navies are very passionate about sports, and the sportsmanship and camaraderie we shared with the Philippine players made for a very enjoyable game."

Many Sailors, who were born and raised in the Philippines, had the opportunity to take leave and see family and relatives in the area.

"I took leave to go visit my aunt, uncle and cousins, whom I hadn't seen in eight years," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class (SW) Michael Balitaan. "Needless to say, they were thrilled to see me, having been away from them for so long."

Blue Ridge port visits presents opportunities to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, and demonstrate commitments to regional partners.

Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan for 34 years. As the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Blue Ridge is vital in maintaining partnerships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.