Military News

Sunday, June 22, 2014

U.S. Conducts Successful Missile Intercept Test in Pacific



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2014 – The U.S. military today successfully intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile test target launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, according to a Defense Department news release issued today.

The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing, the Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Navy completed an integrated exercise of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System, according to the release.

“I am very proud of the government and industry team conducting the test today. Their professionalism and dedication made this test a success,” Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring, the Missile Defense Agency’s director, said in the release.

During the test today, the release said, a long-range ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile target launched from Kwajalein.

The test, designated Flight Test Ground-Based Interceptor-06b, will provide necessary data to assess the performance of numerous ballistic missile defense elements for homeland defense, the release said.

The successful test “is a very important step in our continuing efforts to improve and increase the reliability of our homeland ballistic missile defense system,” Syring said in the release.

“We’ll continue efforts to ensure our deployed ground-based interceptors and our overall homeland defensive architecture continue to provide the warfighter an effective and dependable system to defend the country,” the admiral added.

For this exercise, a threat-representative, intermediate-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Reagan Test Site, the release said. The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper, with its Aegis Weapon System, detected and tracked the target using its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, which provided data to the GMD fire control system via the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication system. The Sea-Based X-Band radar also tracked the target and relayed information to the GMD fire control system to assist in the target engagement and collect test data.

About six minutes after target launch, the Ground-Based Interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, according to the release. A three-stage booster rocket system propelled the interceptor’s Capability Enhancement II EKV into the target missile’s projected trajectory in space. The kill vehicle maneuvered to the target, performed discrimination, and intercepted the threat warhead with “hit to kill” technology, using only the force of the direct collision between the interceptor and the target to destroy the target warhead. This was the first intercept using the second-generation Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.

An operational crew of U.S. Army soldiers from the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, remotely launched the interceptor, the release said.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, according to the release. Program officials will spend the next several months conducting an extensive assessment and evaluation of system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

The test was the 65th successful hit-to-kill intercept of 81 attempts since 2001 for the Ballistic Missile Defense System, the release said. The GMD element of the system has completed four intercepts using the operationally configured interceptor since 2006. Operational Ground-Based Interceptors are currently deployed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, protecting the nation and its friends and allies against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack.

Future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) Keel Authenticated



From Team Ships Public Affairs

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- The keel laying and authentication ceremony for the amphibious assault ship, the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) was held at the Huntington Ingalls Industries Pascagoula shipyard June 20.

Ship Sponsor Mrs. Lynne Mabus and retired Lt. Cmdr. Steve Senk, the chief engineer of the previous Tripoli (ex-USS Tripoli, LPH 10) served as the keel authenticators. The laying of the keel traditionally marked the first step in ship construction. With today's advanced modular shipbuilding, the keel laying ceremony now recognizes the joining together of a ship's components and is a major milestone in the ship's construction. Fabrication of Tripoli started in July 2013.

"We're honored to have Mrs. Mabus with us today to confirm the ship's keel is truly and fairly laid. Mrs. Mabus is a part of this ship's history and together we can look forward to many more ship milestones," said Capt. Christopher Mercer, Amphibious Warfare Program Manager within Program Executive Office, Ships. "This keel laying ceremony marks a significant first step in bringing shape to the Navy's next amphibious assault ship."

Like the recently delivered America (LHA 6), LHA 7 incorporates key components to provide the fleet with a more aviation centric platform. The design of the future Tripoli features an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity. The ship will also be the first LHA replacement ship to deliver fully ready to integrate the entire future air combat element of the Marine Corps to include the Joint Strike Fighter.

"Like America, Tripoli boasts a very credible and capable aviation centric design that replaces the Tarawa class of amphibious assault ships," said Mercer. "The design brings with it increased capabilities and will maximize the Navy's investment in future aircraft."

Along with its pioneering aviation element, LHA 7 incorporates the fuel efficient gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution, and electric auxiliary systems first installed on USS Makin Island (LHD 8). LHA 7 will be 844 feet in length, will have a displacement of approximately 44,971 long tons, and will be capable of operating at speeds of over 20 knots.

"We look forward to working with the professional shipbuilders of Huntington Ingalls Industries as LHA 7 takes shape here in Pascagoula," said Capt. Joe Tuite, commanding officer of Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast.

LHA 7 is the third Navy ship to be named Tripoli. The name honors and commemorates the force of U.S. Marines and approximately 370 soldiers from 11 other nationalities who captured the city of Derna, Libya during the 1805 Battle of Derna. The battle resulted in a subsequent peace treaty and the successful conclusion of the combined operations of the First Barbary War.

As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Currently, the majority of shipbuilding programs managed by PEO Ships are benefiting from serial production efficiencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.

Navy Future Sailor Saves Child's Life



By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anastasia Puscian, Navy Recruiting District San Diego, Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A Future Sailor acted quickly to help save a 6-year-old boy from drowning at the San Diego Marriott while waiting to enter the Navy Delayed Entry Program June 18.

Chaney Bryant, 34, was staying at the hotel so he could complete his military processing and take the oath of enlistment the next morning. That evening as he was relaxing at the hotel pool he heard a mother frantic that her child was at the bottom of the pool and unresponsive. The mother jumped in the pool trying to save her child, but she was unable to swim and started to panic even more.

Hearing the commotion and seeing what was happening, Bryant reacted quickly by diving into the pool helping the mother to the shallow end of the pool. He then swam to the boy and pulled him out of the water and started to perform CPR.

"I saw that he swallowed a lot of water, so I pushed on his stomach and he threw up some water," said Bryant. "I then held his nose and gave him one big breath. He started to cough and breathe on his own. I stayed with him until the ambulance came."

First responders arrived within 5 minutes and took the boy to a nearby hospital where he made a complete recovery that evening.

After the situation had calmed, Bryant said all he could think about was how grateful he was that the boy was alive.

"I felt fortunate to be there," said Bryant. "I was about to leave the pool and the closest people were on the second floor who were watching what was happening."

The next morning when the Commanding Officer, San Diego Military Entrance Processing Station, Cmdr. Kyle Vernon, heard what happened she presented Bryant with a command coin and a big thank you for his actions during an impromptu recognition ceremony.

"This incident absolutely reflects the quality of applicants we have coming through USMEPCOM Freedom's Front Door," said Vernon.

Bryant wasn't looking for a thank you from anyone. But felt honored and grateful to be able to help someone.

"I feel incredibly honored that she recognized me. I hadn't been sworn in yet." said Bryant. "She was a little emotional because she is a parent and can understand what happened. It was really a powerful thing to me that the commander recognized me."

Bryant entered the Delayed Entry Program as a reservist June 19 with Navy Recruiting Station Mission Viejo, Calif. He will leave for recruiting training Jan. 12, 2015. After completing boot camp he will attend his technical school to become a cryptologic technician.

Search, Rescue and Save Lives: SAR Swimmers Committed to a Cause



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Lawrence Davis, USS Makin Island (LHD 8), Public Affairs

USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- Physical and mental prowess, exceptional attention to detail, rigorous training with an unwavering will to resist complacency, and most importantly, personal sacrifice "so others may live;" those are the principles and the motto that governs the lifestyle of Navy search and rescue (SAR) swimmers.

SAR swimmers carry an invaluable role in the mission readiness of United States naval vessels. For the safety of naval personnel, ships are mandated to have a qualified SAR team aboard at all times during ship's movement.

The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) carries a four-person team of qualified, highly-trained search and rescue swimmers. Expected to be always on the alert, Makin Island's SAR team mans the ship's boat deck day-in and day-out during evolutions such as flight and amphibious operations, and leaving and entering port, ready to answer the call if a person goes overboard.

"A SAR swimmer must be versatile in their preparedness," said Seaman Sean Youngwelch, a qualified collateral duty SAR swimmer aboard Makin Island. "The call could be a multitude of situations. Whether it is a man overboard of the ship's crew, a civilian vessel, the recovery of downed aircrew, or the retrieval of aircraft parts, SAR swimmers must be prepared 24 hours-a-day to perform search and rescue operations."

The Makin Island SAR team conducts both helicopter and small boat recoveries. The demanding challenge of leaping 10 to 15 feet out of an aircraft and swimming through six to eight-foot swells to someone's rescue is certainly no easy feat. This makes repetitive training essential to mission readiness.

"They're always learning, working to perfect technique," said Ensign Andrew Wondolowski, Makin Island's SAR officer. "Training never really stops. SAR swimmers don't just graduate rescue swimmer school and that's it. They constantly earn their qualification. That's what makes it special."

Swimming the seemingly bottomless ocean in an arduous attempt at saving lives, no doubt, requires skill, a constant tasking of both the mind and body.

"You cannot for an instant become satisfied with your level of knowledge or skill," Wondolowski said. "You can never prepare yourself enough to be called upon to save lives."

Hull Technician 2nd Class (SW) Amanda Beaverson, who is Makin Island's only female SAR swimmer and one of three on the West Coast, divulged her regiment for maintaining optimal mission readiness.

"Strength and endurance is a key to success during any rescue situation," said Beaverson. "My daily workout routine varies between cardio and strength training. I also incorporate a healthy diet to provide myself proper nutrition and energy."

Considering the rigors involved in search and rescue swimming, SAR team members must demonstrate the capability to accomplish certain requirements. SAR swimmers must pass a quarterly search and rescue fitness test, including a minimum of four pull-ups, a 500-meter swim and a 400-meter "buddy-tow" within 27 minutes. They are required to attend weekly SAR training and must be proficient in the use of rescue equipment as well as capable of performing basic first aid cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Even still, not just anyone can be a command search and rescue swimmer. Before being considered, an applicant must have a letter of recommendation from their commanding officer.

When it comes to putting lives of Sailors in the hands of other Sailors, such heavy prerequisites are designed to identify only the most dedicated.

"Being a SAR swimmer is essential to my life on the ship," said Youngwelch. "It's important to find something that drives you and your attitude upward towards your goals."

Wondolowski spoke about the measure of a collateral duty search and rescue swimmer.

"Oddly enough, they're just like any other Sailor," said Wondolowski. "They have their jobs and responsibilities in their respective divisions, but if the call comes to man the boat deck, they drop it all to answer the call."

Makin Island, assigned to Amphibious Squadron 5, is conducting Certification Exercise with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in preparation for their upcoming deployment.