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BULLHORN #81     13 January 2011

 

Happy New Year!  We hope your Christmas was most wonderful and that the New Year has started comfortably and that it will bring health and happiness to All Hands!

 

ADMIN NOTE!!          PROXIES PLEASE!!                                     PROXIES PLEASE!!

It is imperative we soon reseat our Board of Directors.  To that purpose, we very much need your proxies! If you have not already mailed or emailed your proxy, all you need do is hit “reply” to this message; that will signify giving your proxy to the secretary for the coming vote for the Board of Directors.

 

INDEX

 

ANA Squadron Changes of Command

ANA Dorothy Flatley Award

EMALS – First Launch

Naval Aviation Museum Foundation Symposium May 2011

USS ENTERPRISE Underway

First Annual Coast Guard Aviation Air Ball

Boeing Celebrates C-40A Delivery to Navy

Final Voyage Of The Mighty Ark

Navy Patrol Squadron 46 Returns Home

2011 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Heritage Celebration

HS-11 In Prep Mode

RhumbLines Helicopter Contributions to the Maritime Strategy

RhumbLines Executing the Maritime Strategy

Gates Touts US Air Power Role In Afghanistan War

Everett is Nimitz 's New Homeport

Fleet Snapshot Closing 2010

Aviation Milestones for 2011

 

ANA Changes of Command

The following Changes of Command have been reported.  Our greatest Thank You! to those who have served so well and long and now stand relieved.  And our great thanks, too, to those who have stepped up to the plate to serve as the new COs.

Port Ludlow, WA  Olympic Squadron (# 37) RADM James D. (Jamie) Kelly USN (Ret) relieved CAPT  John Payne, USN (Ret)

Two-Block Fox Squadron (#22)  CAPT Richard S. Zeisel, USN (RET) relieved CDR Ed Philips, USN (Ret)

Palm Springs “Desert Storm” Squadron (#42) Mr. Tom Ackland relieved CAPT Peter Richardson, USMC (Ret)

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ANA Dorothy Flatley Award

Navy News Service - The Source for Navy NewsThe Source for Navy News                               

NAF Misawa Family Member Recognized with Spouse of the Year Award
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Sanford, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan Public Affairs

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- A Misawa-based family member received the Association of Naval Aviation's 2009 Dorothy Flatley Naval Spouse of the Year Award during a ceremony aboard Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa, Japan, Nov. 9.

Shelle Napier, spouse of Naval Air Facility Misawa's Command Master Chief Michael Napier, received the award during a ceremony where she was cited for her inspirational support of Navy families while her husband served as Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27's command master chief.

The Dorothy Flatley Award is given annually to one spouse from Naval Air Forces Pacific and one spouse from Naval Air Forces Atlantic. Napier was named Pacific's winner due to her support of squadron families in which she focused on building strong morale among her fellow squadron personnel and their family members, especially during deployments.

She was recognized for bringing the COMPASS program aboard NAF Atsugi. Sponsored by the Naval Service Familyline in Washington D.C., COMPASS is a spouse-to-spouse mentoring program that covers naval history and traditions, benefits, finances, and multiple-related topics of acute interest to Navy families.

Napier originally became involved with COMPASS while stationed aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

"COMPASS is such a worthwhile program for spouses and family members," said Napier. "It was definitely a program that Atsugi needed for the spouses, and we found early on the sharing of all the resources available benefited the entire community."

Beyond COMPASS, Napier also initiated several innovative, family-oriented projects.

She coordinated a summer pool party where children made "welcome home" banners for their deployed parents. She also constructed a squadron "gratitude tree" and encouraged family members to participate by writing brief messages on a leaf or sending a picture of their family for decoration.

"The squadron was coming home a few days before Thanksgiving, and we had gone the whole deployment without any incidents," said Napier. "I felt we should focus on being grateful. Many families took part in this; the tree ended up being about five-feet tall, and was placed in a very prominent place at the squadron hangar.

Napier was also a huge component behind numerous baked-good giveaways for single Sailors, potluck dinners and fundraisers – all in support of VFA 27 families.

"Look, everything I did was part of a larger team effort," said Napier. "I grew up in a family where service was just something we did; it's always been a part of my life. As far as the award goes, I think I was just lucky to be recognized, and for that I am extremely humbled."

Napier and her husband arrived in Misawa in June. She said while she is still looking for her niche in Misawa, she is already firmly involved aboard the facility.

"I'm very busy volunteering at church, with the family readiness group and substitute teaching," she said.

Napier said she would also like to bring the COMPASS program aboard NAF Misawa. She said regardless of the capacity, she is committed to helping others, no matter where she may reside.

"Helping others just has a ripple effect," Napier said. "When it comes down to it, if you have an unhappy spouse you have an unhappy family, and it then leads to good Sailors leaving the Navy. If we can help a spouse be more knowledgeable and involved with Navy life, as well as their respective commands, everyone benefits from it, especially the Navy."

 

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EMALS

Navy launches first aircraft using EMALS

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Navy News - The Navy made history when it launched the first aircraft from the Naval Air Systems Command, Lakehurst, N.J., test site using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, technology.

The Navy has been using steam for more than 50 years to launch aircraft from carriers. Saturday, the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet using the EMALS technology that will replace steam catapults on future aircraft carriers.

“This is a tremendous achievement not just for the ALRE team, but for the entire Navy,” said Capt. James Donnelly, ALRE program manager. “Saturday’s EMALS launch demonstrates an evolution in carrier flight deck operations using advanced computer control, system monitoring and automation for tomorrow’s carrier air wings.”

EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and future Ford-class carriers.

“I thought the launch went great,” said Lt. Daniel Radocaj, the test pilot from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) who made the first EMALS manned launch. “I got excited once I was on the catapult but I went through the same procedures as on a steam catapult. The catapult stroke felt similar to a steam catapult and EMALS met all of the expectations I had.”

The current aircraft launch system for Navy aircraft carriers is the steam catapult. Newer, heavier and faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult system.

The mission and function of EMALS remain the same as the steam catapult; however, EMALS employs entirely different technologies. EMALS will deliver the necessary higher launch energy capacity as well as substantial improvements in system weight, maintenance, increased efficiency, and more accurate end-speed control.

“I felt honored to be chosen as the Shooter to help launch the first live aircraft tested on the new EMALS track at Lakehurst,” said Chief Petty Officer Brandon Barr, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Test Department, Lakehurst. “It was very exciting to knowingly be a part of naval aviation history. Petty Officers 1st Class Hunsaker and Robinson, Petty Officers 2nd Class Williams, Wong, and Simmons, were the sailors on my team who worked together to help make this test a success. We all look forward to seeing this cutting edge technology deployed on the Gerald R. Ford."

“I’m excited about the improvement EMALS will bring to the fleet from a capability and reliability perspective,” said Cmdr. Russ McCormack, ALRE, PMA-251, deputy program manager for future systems. “EMALS was designed for just that purpose, and the team is delivering that requirement.”

The system’s technology allows for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the carrier’s ability to launch aircraft in support of the warfighter.

The system will provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms – lightweight unmanned to heavy strike fighters.

Engineers will continue system functional demonstration testing at NAVAIR Lakehurst. The team will expand aircraft launches with the addition of T-45 and C-2 aircraft next year.

 

NOTES

The general Atomics web site provides a great description of EMALS at http://atg.ga.com/EM/defense/emals/index.php

A video of the launch can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euLsg_viWW0

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NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM FOUNDATION SYMPOSIUM

All Hands are reminded that the Naval Aviation Museum 2011 Symposium will be May 4 – 6.  The Symposium schedule can be found at 

http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/NewsAndEvents/Symposium/Symposium2011.aspx

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USS ENTERPRISE UNDERWAY

Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) while family and friends wave goodbye as the ship departs from Naval Station Norfolk.                            

NORFOLK (Jan. 13, 2011) Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) while family and friends wave goodbye as the ship departs from Naval Station Norfolk. Enterprise is deploying as part of the Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 12 in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Garst/Released)

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First Annual Coast Guard Aviation Air Ball

Coast Guard Aviators -

                As you all know, this year we celebrate the first centennial of Naval Aviation, the rich Coast Guard Aviation heritage that it spawned, and the legacy of Coast Guard Aviators that have gone before us - some of whom have gone but never returned.  Coast Guard Aviation is more robust and more relevant today than ever before in our nation's history. Taking the time to reflect upon and celebrate the history and legacy of what Coast Guard Aviation has accomplished and what the CG Aviators of today still do for our country seems only fitting.

                As we close the chapter on the first century of Naval Aviation and open the next chapter, Coast Guard Aviation needs an annual event, one worthy of providing a means to celebrate its rich heritage.  Additionally, this annual event could serve as a more formal "hail and farewell" to welcome newly assigned or retired CG Aviators and their spouses to the Capital Region and to bid a fond farewell to those departing the Capital area to future assignments.

                The First Annual Coast Guard Aviation Air Ball is scheduled for Saturday evening, May 7th.  This Flight Suit Formal will be held at one of the DC area's many hotel ballrooms or military officer's club.  Cost is anticipated to be approximately $50 per person.  All CG Aviators and their spouses/guests will be invited.

                Assuming we have enough interest more details and official invitations will follow.  Please use the voting buttons above to determine the interest for the event so we can identify the right location based upon attendance.  Your response is requested by 20 January. Thanks in advance.

From "the Committee",

CDR's Campbell, Andres, & Cooper

Please R.S.V.P. to msmithairlines.org if you would like to attend and support our active duty Coast Guard Aviation forces!

The Coast Guard Aviation Association

Visit the The Ancient Order of The Pterodactyl

At their great web site = http://www.aoptero.org/

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Boeing Celebrates C-40A Delivery to Navy

It's going to be anchors away for the C-40A as Boeing Wichita delivers the modified 737 to the United States Navy.

The C-40A has been modified for the U.S. Navy and is equipped with a main-deck cargo door and can be configured for troop transport, cargo transport or both. With a state-of-the-art flight deck; 21st century avionics; and quiet, clean, fuel-efficient engines, the C-40A increases the Navy's capability for rapid response to the fleet worldwide.

"The C-40A plays an important role in the Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift (NUFEA) fleet," said Vice Adm. Dirk Debbink, Chief of Navy Reserve. "These fuel-efficient, extremely flexible logistics-support aircraft are an integral part of every maritime mission, from humanitarian assistance to power projection. The bottom line is the ability of the C-40A to provide our nation important, Navy-unique airlift capability at a lower cost. We welcome this new aircraft into the fleet!"

A lot of Wichitans have a hand in building the plane. The work on the plane starts at Spirit Aerosystems where the entire fuselage is built. The fuselage is then shipped to Renton, Washington for final assembly, then flown back to Wichita for the modification work that is a specialty of Boeing Wichita.

"The C-40A plays an important role in the Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift (NUFEA) fleet," said Vice Adm. Dirk Debbink, Chief of Navy Reserve. "These fuel-efficient, extremely flexible logistics-support aircraft are an integral part of every maritime mission, from humanitarian assistance to power projection. The bottom line is the ability of the C-40A to provide our nation important, Navy-unique airlift capability at a lower cost. We welcome this new aircraft into the fleet!"

The Navy C-40As, which replace the service's fleet of C-9s, are based at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Joint Reserve Base (JRB) in Forth Worth, Texas, at NAS Jacksonville, Fla., and at NAS North Island in San Diego, Calif. The new aircraft will be immediately stationed at NAS JRB Fort Worth, where crews will provide transition training for crews at NAS Oceana, Va., a new C-40A location scheduled to open next year.

This is the 10th C-40 delivered to the Navy since 2001, but the first since 2006. Boeing brass say celebrating a delivery like this is particularly satisfying because of the current economic challenges.

"Things are tough. So to be able to celebrate and have a satisfied customer that's actually coming back for more, as you heard the admiral say," Wade added. "We have another plane here that we're modifying today and one more coming so we are excited."

Boeing is on contract to deliver two additional C-40As; one 737 is currently being modified at the Wichita facility, while the other is on the Boeing Commercial Airplanes production line in Renton, Wash.

"We're looking forward to continuing to enhance the Navy's fleet of C-40As with as many aircraft as are required to support this mission," said Wade. "The C-40A is a proven workhorse, whether it is delivering humanitarian aid to the scenes of natural disasters or military equipment to ships and troops on the ground."

 

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Final Voyage Of The Mighty Ark

(NEWCASTLE NORTHERN ECHO (UK) 22 NOV 10)

(This is a tad dated – BUT still newsworthy – Dutch)

A quarter of a century ago, HMS Ark Royal slipped majestically into the waters off the North-East.

Now she is preparing to weigh anchor for the final time after the Government announced her decommissioning. Dani Webb joined the crew on her farewell tour to find out about life onboard.

Cutting proudly through the waves of the North Sea, HMS Ark Royal could be in the midst of any of its many voyages from the past 25 years.

But as four Harrier fixedwing aircraft break through the dark clouds to make their final landing onboard a British warship, it is clear this is no ordinary trip.

Lieutenant Chris Roy may be making his 50th landing on the deck of the carrier, built by Swan Hunter, in Wallsend, North Tyneside, but impressive as it is, it is not that which catches the eye – rather the red “For sale” sign he has put up in his cockpit.

It brings a smile to those watching from the flight deck, but behind it there is a more serious message.

The Government sent shockwaves through the 650- strong crew when it announced last month that, as part of millions of pounds-worth of defence cuts, the end was nigh for the vessel known as the Mighty Ark.

For the Harrier jet pilots, it could mean the end of their jobs, as their role will no longer be required.

“In the Royal Navy, when the chips are down we have to do something to keep us smiling,”

says Lt Roy. “That’s what I was doing because it is a sad day.

“We just don’t know what the future holds, but hopefully we will find something.

“It wasn’t the best landings any of us have ever done, but I really enjoyed it. It is the last of them and now we have to look forward.”

Many of the flagship carrier’s crew have already received assurances about their futures in the Royal Navy, but it is not their jobs, rather the end of the relationship with Ark Royal that brings a tear to the eye.

Everyone from Captain Jerry Kyd through to the administration staff and the chefs are feeling the pain of losing an illustrious name that has been in service for more than 500 years.

Executive Officer Rob Bellfield, second in command to the captain, says: “The decision had a huge impact on everyone, but we are delighted to have been given this chance to show her off one last time.

“We are a fully functioning warship and, if we were called away now, everyone would be ready.”

Experiencing all 22,000 tonnes of Ark Royal from the inside is a real eye-opener.

The steel corridors are lined with miles of exposed piping, water-tight doors are in place every few metres and steep metal ladders separate the many floors.

In some areas, up to 21 sailors can share a cramped dormitory made up of threehigh bunk beds and during rough seas a “seatbelt” is provided to stop you falling out.

Those who work onboard do not hanker for luxuries – they are here to carry out a very important job.

HMS Ark Royal may be on her farewell voyage, but watching the crew going about their roles with meticulous precision, you would never think it.

Whether they have been onboard for a few weeks or many years, they know what they have to do. No one is winding down or even thinking about life after the Mighty Ark until that last switch is pushed and the landing ladder drawn up.

They may have removed most of the ammunition at its last port of call – Glenmallan, near Glasgow – but the crew could still step into action if the call ever came.

Nothing stops them from doing their job. Not the rough seas we encounter as we sail around the top of Scotland or, on a lesser scale, the bouts of inevitable sea sickness.

“If there is an incident, you just have to get on with it,”

says 20-year-old steward Daniel Phillips, from North Shields, in North Tyneside.

As we’re given a guided tour of the ship “flood, flood, flood” booms out of the tannoys.

There’s no panic, just half-adozen engineers rushing by en route to solving the problem while everyone else carries on as if nothing is happening.

As she sailed smoothly back to Northumbria Quay on Friday, the realisation among the crew that the end was near began to hit home. Their jobs will continue after HMS Ark Royal has been decommissioned, but each one of them hopes her name, at least, will return to the high seas one day.

As Executive Officer Bellfield says: “She will bow out with dignity, but it is a great name and hopefully we’ll see it used again in the future.”

HMS Ark Royal’s great journey

·        HMS Ark Royal was built by Swan Hunter Ship Builders’ Wallsend yard between 1978 and 1981. She is the fifth vessel to bear the Ark Royal name.

·        She was accepted into service on July 1, 1985, and commissioned by the Queen Mother on November 1, 1985.

·        In the early Nineties, she was a major force in the Balkans conflict, based mainly in the Adriatic Sea.

·        In 2003 she played a significant role in the Gulf War, as part of the coalition force that liberated Iraq.

·        In 2007 HMS Ark Royal underwent an £18m refit, securing her place as the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier.

·        Originally due to be retired in 2016, the Government last month announced plans to decommission HMS Ark Royal early next year.

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Navy Patrol Squadron 46 Returns Home

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 “Grey Knights” is coming home from a six-month deployment.

The first 87 Grey Knights arrived by airlift on Monday, Nov. 29. The remainder of the squadron will bring their stable of P-3C Orion aircraft back to NAS Whidbey Island over the next two weeks.

During the squadron’s deployment, VP-46 supported various missions across three different theaters of operation. In Iraq, they flew intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over-watch missions, supporting ground commanders as they safely withdrew from Iraq, representing the departure of the last major U.S. ground combat troops in Iraq.

Crews supported 6th Fleet, flying missions with Combined Task Force 151’s counter-piracy campaign. The Grey Knights also provided anti-submarine warfare support for 7th Fleet. Even with a rigorous flight schedule, VP-46 participated in numerous joint exercises with British, Kuwaiti, Pakistani, Thai and South Korean forces.

Throughout the deployment, the Grey Knights continued their tradition of safe, effective and efficient mission execution and furthered the command’s safety record with over 46 years and 312,000 mishap-free flight hours – a Pacific Fleet record.

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2011 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Heritage Celebration

In recognition of the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CoNA), the 2011 Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Heritage Celebration will be held on-board NAS Jacksonville from 4-6 April, 2011. Heritage events run from Monday-Wednesday and include a Flight Suit Dinner with guest speaker Vice Admiral Myers, Commander Naval Air Forces. Other highlights include a Heritage Fly-in, Heritage Golf Tournament, PBY Monument rededication and more. As we are looking for maximum participation from every era of MPR aviation. Events are open to all interested.

 

Information on the event, as well as, registration, is provided on the CoNA website (http://www.mprfcona.org). The website includes information on travel, lodging, base info and a detailed description of each event. There is a $20 registration fee, which includes an official patch and coin designed for the celebration. The event is fully supported by the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force and we intend to make it one of the most memorable events to date.

POC is LCDR Rob Wilkerson

E-mail: Vp30_mprfcona@navy.mil

 

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HS-11 In Prep Mode

"It's always a great feeling to be back on the flight deck of the legendary ‘Big E,'" said HS-11 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Max Clark.

"Next to the USS Constitution, USS Enterprise is the Navy's oldest commissioned warship - yet you wouldn't know it when you look at her."

After its recent two-year stay in the Northrop Grumman Shipyard in Newport News, Va., the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) will serve as the flagship for Commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve (CCSG-12) as the carrier prepares for its 21st deployment.

"As of Thanksgiving, our squadron finished with the heavy portions of our workup as part of CSG-12. The composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) Oct. 4 - 26 was the last major dragon that we had to tame as part of Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) embarked on the Enterprise. As part of COMPTUEX, the Dragonslayers executed two live-fire Hellfire missile shots" said Clark.

"HS-11 was evaluated highly in every mission area of COMPTUEX," said Executive Officer Cmdr. Tony Moreno. "After we complete the joint task force exercise (JTFEX) in early January, the Enterprise strike group will be certified for deployment.

"During the training, our operators worked to achieve a more robust and integrated anti-submarine mission between Enterprise and other aviation assets."

Moreno noted that since the disestablishment of the S-3 Viking squadrons, HS-11 has pushed the integration of its anti-submarine mission with land-based P-3C Orions and the HSL (SH-60B) detachments embarked with the strike group's destroyers and cruisers.

After COMTUEX, HS-11 sent a four-helicopter detachment to Atlantic Undersea Test Evaluation Center (AUTEC) located on Andros Island, Bahamas.

Pilots, aircrew and maintainers participated in three days of intensive anti-submarine warfare training where they worked with other aviation and surface assets to locate and track submarines.

While at AUTEC, the Dragon-slayers also trained for Helicopter Visit Board Search and Seizure (HVBSS).

Clark added, "We are about to embark on JTFEX on board Enterprise for our final pre-deployment exercise. After JTFEX, we will return home for our holiday leave period before deploying with CVW-1 in mid-January."

When asked to name a 2010 mission that stood out for him, Moreno said, "Our people received the Humanitarian Service Medal for their contribution to Operation Unified Response in Haiti. We fielded one of the first earthquake-response calls early on Jan. 12 - and by that evening we had four helicopters on board the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), which spent 10 weeks operating near Port-au-Prince. Our maintainers and operators are top notch, as evidenced by their accident-free mobilization."

AFCM(AW/SW) Rodney Feliciano agreed, "I talk to these guys all the time at our morning and evening maintenance meetings and let them know how important their job is to the fleet. They are doing real good because it takes a lot of work to maintain these Seahawks. The SH-60F first joined the fleet back in 1988, so there's a lot of stuff that just wears out. Our guys put in the extra time necessary to keep them mission-ready and flying safely."

The HS-11 Dragonslayers deploy with SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk helicopters that, in addition to anti-submarine warfare, perform search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift and special operations missions.

 

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RhumbLines Helicopter Contributions to the Maritime Strategy

 

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RhumbLines Executing the Maritime Strategy

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Gates Touts US Air Power Role In Afghanistan War

Agence France-Presse ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (AFP) -- Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Monday told the crew of a US aircraft carrier that the ship's warplanes were dealing "lethal blows" to insurgents in Afghanistan.

"When your aircraft come screaming, our troops hear the sound of relief and the enemy knows what's coming next," Gates told hundreds of sailors in a vast hangar on the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea.

"You are delivering lethal blows to them and protecting the lives of our men and women on the battlefield," he said, standing near parked F/A-18 fighter jets.

Amid a surge of US reinforcements, American commanders have stepped up the use of air strikes to try to turn the tide in the nine-year-old war.

In his first visit as secretary to a deployed aircraft carrier, Gates acknowledged the bombing raids carried the risk of civilian deaths, but said US forces were taking extensive precautions.

"Recognizing the complexities of this battle environment, you have been extraordinarily conscious about the need to avoid civilian casualties," Gates said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has often expressed anger over air strikes that have claimed civilian lives, but US and NATO officials say Taliban insurgents have caused a much higher number of civilian deaths, through bombing attacks or by using civilians as cover.

The Nimitz-class USS Abraham Lincoln, with a crew of about 5,000, supports US-led troops in Afghanistan with its fleet of F/A-18 Hornets as well as EA-6B Prowlers and E-2C Hawkeyes.

Pilots on the ship fly a total of about 27 sorties a day to Afghanistan, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the carrier in the Arabian Sea, requiring mid-air refueling on both legs of the mission, Rear Admiral Mark Guadagnini told reporters.

Asked if tensions over Iran's nuclear programme had prompted his tour of the carrier, Gates said the visit had been in the works for some time.

"I'm sure someone will try to make it into one but it's not (a signal)," Gates said.

With public attention focused on roughly 150,000 coalition troops on the ground in Afghanistan, Gates wanted to pay tribute to the "largely unseen and unheralded" role played by naval ships and aircraft in the war effort, his press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

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Everett is Nimitz 's New Homeport


From USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and 2,800 Sailors arrived at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash., Dec. 9 after completing a four-day transit from San Diego.

Nimitz is in Bremerton to conduct a year-long dry-docked maintenance period at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship will receive major upgrades to its combat, self defense, navigation and potable water systems and numerous other components.

The Navy also announced Dec. 9 that Nimitz will be homeported at Naval Station Everett, Wash., upon completion of the ship's maintenance period at Bremerton. Nimitz is expected to complete the maintenance period in December 2011.

"Great job to everyone for making this all happen," said Capt. Paul O. Monger, Nimitz's commanding officer. "Maintenance of the ship, moving families and other factors went into the decision."

The general reaction of Sailors was mixed. Sailors were relieved to hear the decision was made but some were hoping to return to San Diego after the ship's dry-dock period. Others, however, were excited about the ship being homeported in Everett.

"I'm excited to finally know," said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Melody Rogers. "We've been up in the air wondering where we were going to go after Bremerton. I'm just happy I'll be closer to home."

Prior to pulling into port, Kitsap county officials, Bremerton city officials and the mayors of both Bremerton and Port Orchard, Wash., flew aboard to welcome the ship and crew to the Kitsap area.

"It is exciting to see the dedication of the men and women who defend us every day," said Lary Coppola, the Port Orchard mayor.

Hundreds of family members, friends and shipmates welcomed Nimitz at the pier in Bremerton as the ship arrived.

"I'm happy to see my husband again, and I'm excited to be here in Washington. It's a beautiful area," said Jessica Rubio, the wife of a Nimitz Sailor.

For the Nimitz' crew, the next week will be busy as the crew moves from the ship into their new homes in the Kitsap area and into barracks rooms at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton.

"I'm excited to be in the barracks," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Brandy McHayle. "It's going to be more comfortable than living on the ship, and it's better to be sleeping in a bed than a rack."

Additionally, the ship will be offloading nearly 400 privately-owned vehicles that were onloaded in San Diego as part of an opportune lift program to help Sailors and families move their vehicles from California to Washington.

While in dry-dock, the Navy expects to accomplish approximately 450,000 man days of work during the docking-planned incremental availability. Much of the work will be conducted by government workers at PSNS, but a substantial amount, around 72,000 man days, is expected to be accomplished in the private sector, with a significant effort being accomplished by the Nimitz crew.

 

Third Carrier To Replace Nimitz Coming In 2016

The Navy aircraft carrier Nimitz will not return to San Diego, instead staying in Washington state after an overhaul, but another carrier will call San Diego its home port in 2016.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said national defense strategy and $100 million in cost savings are behind the decision to permanently move the Nimitz.

The savings come from the lower cost of living in Everett, Wash., and reduced moving expenses by keeping the flattop in the Puget Sound region after its maintenance period.

"Many factors were considered here, including the quality of life for our sailors and their families, and the considerable cost savings to the American taxpayers," Mabus said in a statement from the Navy. "Maintaining a carrier in Everett will ensure long-term strategic dispersal and operational readiness of our fleet which is critical to our national security."

Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, said she's been told by the Navy that there's an expectation of a new carrier in San Diego by 2016. She wouldn't reveal the incoming ship's name.

"Given the importance of the Pacific region to the prosperity and safety of the United States, I believe San Diego remains the most important strategic location for the United States Navy and will continue to advocate for a robust naval presence in San Diego and Coronado," she said, in a written statement.

"After discussing this issue with the chief of naval operations, I am confident that the Navy fully understands the importance of San Diego. In fact, San Diego is in place for a third carrier in 2016."

If that happens, Davis added, the city's time without three carriers on its skyline is "really just a long sabbatical."

A Defense Department official confirmed a third carrier for San Diego in 2016, saying that North Island Naval Air Station remains a capable home port for up to three flattops. "And, over the long term, that is the plan," the official said, who added that the ship hasn't yet been named.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, said he is disappointed by the Nimitz move and wants more information from the Navy.

"Relocating the Nimitz appears to be a decision based more on strategic planning than regional politics. Regardless of the Navy’s reasoning, I want to know more about how the Navy arrived at this decision and why it believes moving the Nimitz out of San Diego – where certain infrastructure and training facilities already exist – is in our national interest," Hunter said, in a statement from his office.

The Nimitz, with its 2,800 sailors, left San Diego Bay on Monday for a year-long maintenance period in the Navy's Bremerton, Wash., yard.

Now it will stay in the Puget Sound region, moving over to Naval Station Everett., and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln will head into a Virginia shipyard for a major overhaul.

For the present time, that leaves the Navy with two of its 11 flattops in San Diego and two in Washington state.

The Carl Vinson and the Ronald Reagan will remain stationed at North Island's piers for the foreseeable future.

It’s a major economic hit for San Diego, as a carrier brings with it $203 million yearly in sailor salaries, plus $4 million in annual utility spending. On top of that, Navy families pour cash into the region’s restaurants and shopping malls.

The Navy estimated that the carrier Carl Vinson brought $417 million in annual economic impact when it arrived in San Diego in April.

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Fleet Snapshot Closing 2010

            The aircraft carrier Enterprise spent early December at sea for joint task force exercises with its carrier strike group as they prepared for an early 2011 deployment. This is expected to be the ship's final deployment.

            Nimitz, fresh from the announcement of a permanent change of home port  from San Diego to Everett, Wash.  saw its hull go dry Dec. 16 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., the start of a yearlong overhaul. By the end of 2011, the carrier will shift across the sound to Everett.

            Dwight D. Eisenhower, after back-to-back deployments, is going through a six-month yard period for maintenance and the revamping of its living and work spaces. It will then conduct work-ups in the coming year.

            Carl Vinson left San Diego Nov. 30 to finish its pre-deployment work-ups and will begin 2011 fresh into a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf regions.

            Theodore Roosevelt will begin the year nearly halfway through its major 36-month midlife refueling and complex overhaul in Newport News, Va, and will come out of dry dock this coming year.

            Abraham Lincoln will begin the year deployed in the 5th Fleet region in the midst of a busy schedule that will bring the carrier home to Everett this spring. Months later, it will change its home port to Norfolk, Va., where it will begin its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul, expected to last four years.

            George Washington spent the holidays at home in Yokosuka, Japan, after fall joint exercises and a highly-visible presence in the 7th Fleet region amid escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

            John C. Stennis in mid-December wrapped up a maintenance period at Puget Sound and went to sea before returning to Bremerton. It will begin work-ups for its next deployment

            Harry S. Truman returned to Norfolk on Dec. 20, ending a seven-month deployment spent mostly around 5th Fleet. It is not scheduled to deploy in 2011.

            Ronald Reagan prepared for its joint task force exercise before a deployment  its fifth in six years  to the Western Pacific in early 2011.

            George H.W. Bush will celebrate its first deployment in 2011 after at-sea work-ups with its strike group.

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Aviation Milestones for 2011

From CHINFO = Key advancements coming for Naval Aviation in 2011:

            F-35 Lightning II. The F-35B Marine Corps variant will continue flight test envelope expansion, including short-takeoff-and-vertical landing testing, aboard an amphibious ship. The carrier variant, the F-35C, will continue flight test envelope expansion, including catapult and jet-blast deflector testing, at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, N.J.

            Fire Scout. The unmanned MQ-8B helicopter has two deployments scheduled for 2011. The system will support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions aboard the frigate Halyburton in the Mediterranean Sea and Horn of Africa, and ground-based operations in U.S. Central Command.

            X-47B unmanned strike aircraft. This carrier-based UAV will continue flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

            Cargo UAS. The Navy intends to field the cargo unmanned aerial system this fall for a six-month deployment, then choose one of two contractors' designs for production.

            P-8A Poseidon. The P-8A will continue integrated testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and is on track for fleet introduction in 2013.

            EMALS. The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System planned for Gerald R. Ford-class carriers just launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet and will expand its test envelope by launching T-45 and C-2 aircraft at the Lakehurst test site in 2011.

 

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