Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise Begins Off South Korean Coast

BUSAN, South Korea, Oct. 17, 2017 — Maritime forces from the United States and South Korea, together with personnel from United Nations Command Sending State nations, began a multinational mine warfare exercise in waters off South Korea's eastern coast Oct. 15.

The mine countermeasures ship USS Chief left here after a short visit to join other participants. Integration procedures began to ensure all exercise participants can work together, officials said.

Over the next week, mine countermeasure ships, aircraft and explosive ordnance personnel will conduct a series of drills meant to practice procedures and tactics to detect and neutralize sea mines to create safe navigation routes. The evolutions are meant to provide increased mine countermeasure interoperability and readiness to respond to a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, officials explained.

"This exercise is an incredible opportunity for our [mine countermeasure] forces and our staff to conduct complex mine countermeasure operations with our much-valued allies and friends in support of the Republic of Korea navy and other nations committed to defending the Korean Peninsula," said Navy Capt. Jim Miller, commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, whose staff will participate in the exercise from Chinhae, South Korea.

Exercise Follows Symposium

Leading up to the exercise, U.S. Naval Forces Korea and the South Korean navy hosted their fourth annual Mine Countermeasures Symposium at the Republic of Korea Fleet Headquarters here Oct. 12-14. The three-day-long exchange was designed to enhance mine countermeasure coordination, training and cooperation and to improve capabilities in mine countermeasures operations.

The relationship between the U.S. and South Korean navies is stronger than it ever has been, said Navy Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of Naval Forces Korea.

"Together, our navies work to strengthen the alliance and relationships we have with the UNC Sending States through engagements like the symposium that highlight cooperation and interoperability, Cooper said."

In attendance at the symposium were representatives from nine UNC Sending States: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The UNC Sending States representatives also will observe portions of the exercise.
Participating nations contributing forces to exercise include Canada, the Philippines, South Korea and the United States.

Eight Bells – A sea-service celebration

by cmsaylor,

On Oct. 18 1974, the office of personnel promulgated the Coast Guard cutterman insignia program to “recognize the contributions and qualifications of our personnel….” Today, that insignia represents the personal fulfillment of the professional training and sea service associated with a seagoing Coast Guard career. Personnel who achieve this distinction stand out as significant contributors to the seagoing Coast Guard. Additionally, there are many serving who do not wear cutterman’s pins yet make considerable contributions to the cutter community.

The office of cutter forces’ “Eight Bells – A Sea-Service Celebration” honors the everyday traditions common aboard all Coast Guard cutters, highlights the shared experiences across all afloat platforms, and recognizes the hard work done by Coast Guard members who serve aboard the cutters.

Today, the Coast Guard has 243 cutters in the fleet and nearly 8,000 members serving aboard ships. We share some of the same nautical traditions held dear by the revenue cutters built after congress authorized the Treasury Department in 1790 to build a small fleet to, in Alexander Hamilton’s words, “be made useful sentinels of the laws.”

Four currently commissioned cutters share names of the original 10 revenue cutters: Vigilant, Active, Diligence and Eagle. In the coming years, with the acquisition of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC), we will also add Argus back to the fleet.

The striking of eight bells at noon harkens back to the days of sail, when time was kept by the trickle of sand through a half-hour glass. One bell was rung for each passing half hour to help keep track of the length of watches. At the end of a four-hour watch, with the striking of eight bells, the watch would change. Noon bells today are a way of honoring those traditions from long ago. Shortly before noon, when the ship’s captain is aboard, the officer of the day (OOD) approaches the captain with the “noon approach” to report on the general condition of the ship. The OOD will salute the captain and say, “Captain, the hour of noon approaches. The magazines have been inspected and found to be cool and dry. All small arms, ammunition and pyrotechnics are accounted for. Request to strike eight bells on time and test the ship’s emergency alarms and whistle.” The captain will salute back and say, “Make it so.”

“Eight Bells – A Sea Service Celebration” is intended to recognize the hard work done by everyone who serves on a cutter, including career cuttermen, cuttermen-to-be, and those that support cutters, every day, all week, all year, on every type of cutter. Despite the diversity in missions and capabilities among the cutter classes, the time-tested seagoing traditions unite and bind the entire cutter community together. A new crew member can go aboard a cutter of any size or class and be comforted by the shared traditions of standing double “4-8s,” ringing eight bells, testing the ship’s alarms and whistle at noon, completing underway checklists, checking the setting of material condition yoke, closing the brow at first call to morning and evening colors, and, of course, 1,000 coffee breaks for the crew, among many others.

Capt. Mark Frankford, chief of the Coast Guard’s office of cutter forces, said, “It’s important for us to celebrate the time-honored traditions that form the basis of our service, while recognizing that even with the benefit of today’s technology, going to sea to protect our nation still isn’t easy and still requires great dedication and sacrifice. Eight Bells is an opportunity for us to take a moment and appreciate the hard work done by cuttermen everywhere and the incredible efforts to support the cutters and their crews by shoreside maintainers, trainers, logistics chains and administrative, personnel and medical services.”

Local Eight Bells celebrations are planned for Alameda, California; Charleston, South Carolina; New London, Connecticut; and Washington.

Members were also invited to submit original video or audio content around the theme of Eight Bells and were required to incorporate the actual sounding of eight bells and highlight cutter sea service traditions. Videos are available for viewing on the Coast Guard’s YouTube channel playlist. You can vote for your favorites with a “like,” and the video with the most likes by Oct. 31, 2017, will be recognized as the winning Eight Bells video.

U.S. Marines complete school projects in Honduras

By Sgt. Ian Leones, Marine Corps Forces South

TRUJILLO, HONDURAS -- U.S. Marines with the Logistics Combat Element, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command, attended a closing ceremony at Once de Febrero School, Trujillo, Honduras, Oct. 13, to celebrate the completion of their renovation project at the school.

After the ceremony, residents of Trujillo held a reception in the city to thank the Marines, who come from reserve units across the United States, for their hard work and dedication to the community. This project concludes nearly five months of renovation work at several schools in and around Trujillo.

“We had four different schools identified by the Honduran government,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Jarrod D. Deitrich, engineer site officer in charge with the LCE. “We felt that, rather than build one school from the ground up, we would have more impact in the community if we refurbished four separate schools.”

The Honduran Department of Education identified four schools in the community that were most in need: Taufick Bendeck, Elvira Tome, Ana Palmore and Once de Febrero. From the onset of the projects, the Marines worked hand in hand with Honduran Army engineers with 1st Engineer Battalion to create new trusses, roofing, electrical wiring and other improvements to the school buildings.

“We were able to lock on six engineers from the Honduran Army who worked right beside us for the duration of the project,” Deitrich said. “We couldn't have done it without the help of these engineers, and it was a great experience for our engineers to see their capabilities. They live in the area, grew up in the area and could help identify what worked best for the community.”

Despite the language barrier, the Marines and Honduran engineers were able to pick up on each other’s methods and the differences in their processes.

“The Honduran engineers don't use the same procedures and materials, but they learned quickly, they were dedicated and had no problem working outside of what their normal jobs were,” said. U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Bradley E. Durbin, the site utilities staff noncommissioned officer in charge with the LCE. “It was eye opening for my Marines to see how the Honduran engineers operate, particularly their work ethic. The Marines really picked up on that and it was good working with them.”

In addition to the school projects, the Marines were also involved in various community relations events around the city.

“We worked with non-governmental organizations like ‘Little Hands, Big Hearts’ that helps support special needs students,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Romano A. Vargas, civil affairs specialist with SPMAGTF-SC. “I think these events helped the Marines see they could impact the community more than just the work they were doing on the schools.”

The lasting impact the Marines have made on this community will be something the Marines intend to remember and benefit from for the rest of their careers.

“I hope that this is an experience the Marines will never forget,” Deitrich said. “The Marines are helping out not only the kids who are currently attending the schools, but also the generations of kids who will attend after. They also got a lot of hands on training at the schools that they wouldn’t be able to get during annual training exercise back at their home unit.”

As the projects come to a close, the Marines will return to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, to prepare for redeployment to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in November. In addition to the school projects in Trujillo, Marines with SPMAGTF-SC completed engineering projects in Guatemala and Belize as well as conducted security cooperation training with their counterparts in several Central American and Caribbean nations. The unit also participated in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the Caribbean Sea as part of Joint Task Force - Leeward Islands in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.