Monday, February 16, 2015

Ambassador Kennedy and First Lady of Japan Visit Olympia

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Public Affairs

FLEET ACTIVITIES YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The crew of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) welcomed First Lady Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a tour of the submarine Feb. 12.

The tour was conducted to reinforce the strategic alliance that exists between the U.S. and Japan, highlighting U.S. 7th Fleet's partnership with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

"I think this was a great opportunity for Mrs. Abe to gain an appreciation for what we bring to the alliance in terms of capabilities - both material and personnel," said Cmdr. Thomas Shugart, commanding officer of Olympia.

Abe was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

"It was a great honor to have the wife of the prime minister, as well as Caroline Kennedy, who is a terrific representative of our country," said Lt. j.g. Erik Edwards, supply officer aboard Olympia. "Our two countries are close allies and it's an honor to be a part of these two countries working so closely together."

Sailors aboard Olympia were excited to show off what they do every day to ensure peace and stability in the region. The tour highlighted Olympia's torpedo facilities and control center.

"It's very exciting to be able to show off the hard work that we do here and for them to see our day-to-day activities," said Electronics Technician Seaman Alexander Pearce. "We take a lot of pride here."

Olympia visited Yokosuka as a regularly-scheduled port visit as a part of its Western Pacific deployment.

Olympia is a multi-mission platform submarine, capable of supporting anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operation forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare.

'First and Finest' to Depart For Field Training Exercise

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kim Martinez, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 Public Affairs

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 departed for Operation Bearing Duel, a field training exercise (FTX), Feb. 12, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi.

The scenario for this training exercise is a deployment to the fictitious location 'Semerica,' where the battalion will conduct construction operations and infrastructure repair in the wake of an invasion by the notional 'Chirean Armed Forces.'

"This is typical of the type of situations Seabees were made to support. The training environment will challenge each Seabee physically, tactically and technically," said Cmdr. Kemit Spears, NMCB-1 commanding officer. "I am excited to see the great work this team is about to showcase."

During the FTX, the bees will be graded on how well they execute the fundamental skills necessary to have a successful mission in a diverse area of operations.

"One of our goals during this exercise was to obtain real world projects that our Seabees could complete and turn over to the Nation of Semerica," said Lt. Cmdr. Ben Waite, NMCB-1 operations officer. "Overall, NMCB-1 will have more than 100 Seabees in direct support of enduring construction projects. These are also projects that could be constructed at any location around the world during a peacetime or contingency deployment."

Upon successful completion of Operation Bearing Duel, NMCB-1 will become Gulfport's ready battalion, who would immediately mobilize in the case of an emergency and be fully qualified for its upcoming deployment.

"The Battalion has undertaken a very rigorous homeport training program since returning from deployment," said NMCB-1 Command Master Chief Mike Lopez. "It has included combat and military skills and construction training, which has prepared us to complete our certification exercise at Camp Shelby. Our Seabees are charged and ready to tackle this challenge!"

The evolutions are graded by representatives from Naval Construction Group 2, who will also provide constructive feedback and training.

NMCB-1, "The First and The Finest," is homeported in Gulfport, Miss. The battalion is scheduled to deploy in 2014. NMCB-1's vision remains to serve the world's greatest Navy and sustain its proud Seabee heritage.