Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GW Families Connect With United Through Reading

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai
USS George Washington Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) are utilizing the ship's United Through Reading program to stay connected with their families.

"United Through Reading involves videotaping Sailors reading books for their children," said Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Champion, Washington's point of contact for the United Through Reading program. "We give the Sailors the privacy and time to read a book of their choice."

Washington has a shelf in its library dedicated to the program. After a Sailor finishes with the recording, Champion will copy the video to a disk and the Sailor can send it back home.

"I use United Through Reading because it's more personal," said Airman Alexander Atizado. "With a phone call, my family can hear my voice but cannot see my face. With e-mail or letters, they can't hear my voice or see my face. However, with the United Through Reading program, my family can see my face and hear my voice when I read a bedtime story and I am able to leave a message at the end of it."

Many Sailors that have used the program often participate more than once.

"I've used the program twice," said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Derek Erickson. "I e-mail and call home regularly but my two boys are too young to read and when I video-call them in port, they reach for the phone and accidentally hang up. With United Through Reading they can see my face and I can tell them things personally."

Some Sailors have received proof of their children enjoying their United Through Reading videos.

"My wife has mentioned how excited my children get when they watch me on video," said Erickson. "They point to the screen and talk to me as the video is playing. It's very heartwarming to hear my boys say 'I love you, Daddy'. To get that response with the United Through Reading program is priceless."

According to Champion, Washington had 145 Sailors sign up for the program in September. The program is immensely popular and 45 Sailors have already signed up for the first week of October.

Held by Commander, U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, SOUTHERN SEAS 15 is a U.S. Navy deployment to conduct Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) activities and exercises including UNITAS 2015 in order to enhance relationships and interoperability with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Washington is deployed as part of Southern Seas 2015 which seeks to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability and build and maintain relationships with countries throughout the region through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.

Singapore-based Sailors celebrate 240 Years of Navy History

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Micah P. Blechner

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Service members from Navy Region Singapore and Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC), celebrated 240 years of Navy heritage during a Navy Ball birthday celebration Oct. 10.

This year's Navy Ball theme was "Ready Then, Ready Now, Ready Always," and was punctuated by COMLOG WESTPAC Commander, Rear Adm. Charlie Williams' keynote remarks.

"For the last 240 years, our Navy has operated forward, when it matters, where it matters, guaranteeing the peace and, if needed, standing ready to fight for our nation and protect and defend the ideals of our republic," said Williams.

Williams went on to explain how Sailors, Civilians, and Navy families stationed in Singapore contribute to the U.S. Navy's forward presence mission. In particular, he highlighted Singapore-based personnel work with distributive logistics in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet and theater security cooperation engagements held throughout the year with 10 partner nations in South and Southeast Asia.

"For our Sailors and Navy Civilians in the audience this evening, I can assure you that your every-day work matters, and that you matter both individually and collectively in ensuring our Navy is ready to do our nation's bidding."

The ball highlighted many special events, including a formal colors presentation, singing of both the Singaporean and United States national anthems, and a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action remembrance ceremony.

Following remarks by both Williams and the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, the Honorable Blair Hall, service members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces along with members from partner nation militaries enjoyed an evening dedicated to U.S. Navy history and heritage.

"I think it's important to have venues like our Navy Ball to celebrate and share our Navy's proud history," said Quartermaster 2nd Class William Cedeno. "Getting together with shipmates in this environment is always a great way to build camaraderie within the command. Our Navy Ball was a great event for all involved."

USS Benfold Enhances Security, Stability to 7th Fleet

From Commander Task Force 70 Public Affairs

WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS
Benfold (DDG 65) entered 7th Fleet's area of responsibility (AOR), Oct. 13, in support of security and stability to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Benfold will enhance presence in the 7th Fleet as part of the U.S. Navy's long range plan to send the most advanced and capable units to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, while also adding to the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capable ships in the AOR.

BMD is one of the many missions the U.S. and Japan train for together. U.S. BMD-capable forces, combined with the sea-based missile defense systems operated by their counterparts in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, provide the U.S.-Japan alliance a regionally responsive missile defense capability.

"We are proud to join the Forward Deployed Forces family in Japan," said Cmdr. Michele Day, Benfold's commanding officer. "After a demanding shipyard period and training cycle, our Sailors are anxious to have an opportunity to prove their abilities among some of the most capable ships in our Navy. We look forward to the waterfront camaraderie and sense of community in Yokosuka."

7th Fleet's AOR encompasses more than 48 million square miles (more than 124 million square kilometers) from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south, and from the International Date Line to the 68th meridian east, which runs down from the India-Pakistan border. The area includes 36 maritime countries and the world's five largest foreign armed forces, People's Republic of China, Russia, India, North Korea and Republic of Korea. Five of the seven U.S. Mutual Defense Treaties are with countries in the area, Republic of the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Japan, and Thailand.