Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Time for Recognition:SecNav Thanks 7th Fleet for Japan Aid

In celebration of a large task well-performed,Navy Secretary Ray Mabus thanked and praised U.S. 7th Fleet sailors and Marines for their multi-faceted work in Operation Tomodachi,which helped the Japan Self-Defense Forces deal with the recent overwhelming earthquake and tsunami.Speaking on 20 April at Commander,Fleet Activities Yokosuka,Mr.Mabus cited the Fleet's flexibility in being able to change missions and respond immediately to the disaster,saying no other country can do that and no other service can do that like the Navy Department people there in Yokosuka.
The 7th Fleet is commanded from the USS Blue Ridge(LCC 19),a ship with a crew of 786 plus the Fleet flag staff,or administrative arm,of 637 service members.Built at the old Philadelphia Naval Shipyard,it can sail at a speed of 23 knots,enabling it to keep up with amphibious warfare ships.The Blue Ridge is homeported in Yokosuka.
In the course of Operation Tomodachi,the Blue Ridge and 21 other ships,as well as 132 aircraft,were used to ensure that harbors were cleared of hazards;more than 260 tons of relief supplies were delivered;Japanese ships and aircraft were fueled and supplied;and more than 2,000 square miles of ocean were searched for victims by over 15,000 sailors and Marines.The partnership between America and Japan was made stronger because of what you did,Secretary Mabus told the all-hands call of more than 1,000 gathered on the waterfront.
Mr.Mabus then took questions from the 7th Fleet personnel and personally greeted several members of the maritime forces.Twenty-two Navy ships and 132 aircraft had served in Operation Tomodachi,which means Friendship in Japanese.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Inside the Fleet:Navy Status Report

As of November 10,2010,the U.S. Navy had a battle force of 288 vessels.They were crewed and supported by 328,059 active duty personnel and 6,650 mobilized Reservists.The Navy Department was staffed by 202,597 civilian personnel.
There were 11 carrier strike groups,each clustered around a nuclear aircraft carrier and its Navy and Marine Corps carrier air wings.The carrier air wings typically include four strike fighter squadrons with Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18-series Hornets and Super Hornets,as well as electronic warfare aircraft and a helicopter squadron.
The carrier strike groups consist of guided-missile cruisers and destroyers,and are served by a fast combat support ship that delivers fuel,ammunition and supplies to the group.The fast combat support ships are crewed by civilian mariners.
Each carrier strike group is escorted by a fast-attack submarine.The submarines protect the group from hostile submarines,and can also carry out cruise missile strikes,as well as intelligence,surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.
For special missions such as theater air and ballistic missile defense,the Navy may constitute Surface Action Groups or other action groups of appropriate vessels.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Helping Japan:Operation Tomodachi

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been leading members of the effort to assist the Japanese people in their recovery from the recent cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami that afflicted them just over a month ago now.As of 1 April,more than 15,000 sailors had participated in the humanitarian relief project known as Operation Tomodachi.Often dressed in their blue camouflage fatigues,the sailors and Marines have been more than willing to lay out their all for the essential task at hand.
At least 22 ships and 132 aircraft have been delivering more than 250 tons of disaster relief supplies in support of the Japanese Self Defense Forces,as their military is known.Initially,search and rescue had been prominent,with helicopters accessing areas cut off from civilization by the cruel events of recent times.Recovery of bodies has become a greater concern as time passes.
Among those involved have been personnel from the destroyers McCampbell(DDG 85)and Curtis Wilbur(DDG 54);amphibious warfare ships Essex(LHD 2)and Germantown(LSD 42)with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditonary Unit;the command ship Blue Ridge(LCC 19);and Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Honors:Iraq War Not Over

The death of Army Sargeant Brandon S. Hocking,a native of Federal Way,Washington,on 21 March,is a reminder that,for the 46,000 Americans still serving in Iraq,despite a transformed mission,the enemy may yet threaten on quiet roads.Sargeant Hocking is one of the 11 U.S. service members to die in Iraq so far this year.
According to the Pentagon,as of 29 March,4,444 Americans had died in the Iraq War,which began in 2003.Formerly known as Operation Iraqi Freedom,it is now called Operation New Dawn.The U.S. role has shifted from combat operations to advising and training the Iraqi forces.
Like so many before him,Sargeant Hocking was killed by an improvised explosive device.A small arms repair specialist,the husband,father and stepfather was manning a gun for a convoy traveling from base to base,fixing small arms for various units.It was his second deployment to Iraq.He was buried on his 25th birthday in Tahoma National Cemetery,Kent,Washington.
A member of the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion,3rd Sustainment Brigade,3rd Infantry Division,Fort Stewart,Georgia,Sargeant Hocking posthumously received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Beisdes Army troops,less than 200 U.S. Marines still serve in Iraq,57 of them from Camp Lejeune,North Carolina.All U.S. forces are to be withdrawn by the end of 2011,Vice President Joe Biden confirmed in January while visiting Iraq.