Tuesday, March 29, 2011

9-11 Memorial Ship Christened

The USS Arlington(LPD 24)was christened on Saturday,24 March at Northrop Grumman Ingalls Operations in Pascagula,Mississippi.Sponsored by Mrs.Joyce Rumsfeld,wife of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,the Arlington is an amphibious transport dock ship,and was built in honor of the 184 people killed when American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the side of the Pentagon on 9-11.
Sporting an advanced composite mast that is as tough as steel but much lighter,the ship has the mission of transporting and sustaining U.S. Marines and their equipment.She can carry a mix of helicopters and vertical take-off and landing fixed wing aircraft,as well as various landing craft,in addition to up to 800 Marines and their gear.
The USS New York(LPD 21),another 9-11 memorial vessel,is in the same San Antonio class as the Arlington,and is now in commission,or fully in service.A total of 11 of these ships are planned.They defend themselves with missiles,30mm guns and .50 caliber machine guns.
In the christening ceremony,Mrs.Rumsfeld broke a bottle of champagne on the new ship.At a later date,a commissioning ceremony is held,when the ship begins its life in the fleet.
Northrop Grumman is spinning off its shipbuilding division to form a separate company,which is to be called Huntington Ingalls Industries,with the U.S. Navy's consent.
Northrop Grumman(NOC)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Marines Ready for Search and Rescue

The U.S. Marines have air crew recovery teams in place near Libya.The Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Teams,or TRAP,are based on amphibious ships such as the USS Kearsarge(LHD 3),which is now on station in the Gulf of Sidra,off the northern coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea.
TRAP teams employ both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to pinpoint and rescue downed aviators.One of the teams rescued Captain Scott O'Grady when his F-16 was shot down by a missile over Bosnia in 1995.On Tuesday,a TRAP team from the Kearsarge immediately picked up one crewman of a U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle which accidentally crashed in eastern Libya.
The other crewman was welcomed as a hero by Libyan rebels before he too was picked up.Both men had minor injuries.
The Kearsarge is an amphibious assault ship manned by Navy personnel,but with the mission of transporting Marines and their equipment,including aircraft.Its motto is "Proud,Trustworthy,Bold."
Also on Tuesday,a U.S. Navy submarine that had fired cruise missiles at regime targets in Libya withdrew from the area,having completed its mission.
Update:The rescue aircraft dispatched from the Kearsarge was reportedly an MV-22 Osprey,which is a fixed wing aircraft that can tilt its propellers up and fly like a helicopter as well.As it approached the downed crewman,it laid down covering fire to discourage anyone from interfering.Six civilians were slightly wounded in the incident.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fukushima Reactors Reaction:Navy Keeps Residents Indoors

Airborne radiation detected Tuesday at Tokyo-area bases resulted in naval base commanders advising residents to stay indoors.Low level radiation had drifted 200 miles south from the crippled Fukushima reactors-or 321.868 kilometers.
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington(CVN 73)had detected the radiation at 0700 hours at Yokosuka Naval Base.The Atsugi base also detected the radiation,along with civil authorities in Tokyo.
Base residents were advised to shelter in place,stay indoors and close all ventilation sources and windows.Military activities continued during the advisory.
The radiation was 50 times more than the level found in nature.This is not a health hazard,but the commanders decided to be on the conservative side.
Also on Tuesday,the U.S. Marines were negotiating to set up a base at Yamgata in northern Japan.Lieutenant Colonel Michael Coletta said they were ready to fly search and rescue and supply missions.
Yamgata is in a valley which gets about 491 cm of snow a year-or 193.3 inches.
Update:The Navy is now giving potassium iodide pills to helicopter pilots and crews before certain missions over Japan,a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.Before,the pills,which protect against radiation-induced thyroid cancer,were being given to some crews after their missions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Naval ROTC Returns to Harvard

The specter of the Vietnam War has receded from Harvard University.The Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps,expelled from campus beginning in 1969,has been reinstated by an agreement signed by Harvard President Drew Faust and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.A director of Naval ROTC will be appointed;the university will resume funding the program;and the program will be given office space,as well as access to classrooms and athletic fields.
The Reserve Officer Training Corps provides scholarships to those who undergo military training while in school and agree to serve in the armed forces after they graduate.Harvard was one of the six original schools to support ROTC in 1926.During the Vietnam War,supporting the ROTC was equated with supporting the much-despised conflict in Southeast Asia.
Dr.Faust said she decided to reinstate ROTC when Congress voted to repeal the Pentagon's "don't ask,don't tell" policy on gays in the military in December 2010.She hailed the armed forces' vital role in securing our freedoms.Secretary Mabus said the reinstatement will benefit both the military and the nation,because with exposure comes understanding,and through understanding comes strength.
There are currently 10 Harvard students who have participated in Naval ROTC at another school.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Navy,Marines On Call for Libya

U.S. military planners are working on various contingency plans for the Libya crisis and are repositioning forces to be able to provide for that flexibility once decisions are made,a Pentagon spokesman said.A destroyer,an amphibious assault ship,the USS Kearsarge(LHD 3),which is carrying part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit,and an aircraft carrier,the USS Enterprise(CVN 65),have passed through the Suez Canal and are on standby in the Red Sea or Mediterranean.
Options being considered include establishing a no-fly zone;safe zones for people sheltering from the Gaddafi regime;securing ports,airports and oil fields;rescuing refugees at sea;and providing guarantees for an attempt to set up a new Libyan government.Cooperation with British and French forces would be particularly important,but Germany is deeply reluctant to get involved militarily.
Rebel forces augmented by rogue Libyan army troops were holding much of Libya as of Tuesday evening,and had successfully repulsed attempts by Gaddafi loyalists to retake ground.
The amphibious assault ship Kearsarge can carry a number of Marine Corps helicopters and Harrier jump jets,besides up to 1871 Marines.The aircraft carrier Enterprise can carry about 80 aircraft and is on one of its last missions,as it is scheduled to be retired in 2012.
Update:A second amphibious assault ship,unnamed as of yet,has reportedly joined the flotilla.