Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

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USS Gridley Returns from Deployment

By Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – The Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS Gridley (DDG 101), will return from a six-month, independent deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AOR) Feb. 5.

“Team Gridley performed exceptionally well for the past six months during our deployment,” said Cmdr. Rick Kratzer, Gridley commanding officer. “Team Gridley met and accomplished every assigned task with professionalism and served as great ambassadors during nine port visits, promoting peace and stability when interacting with the local population.”

While deployed, Gridley participated in various multi-national, high-visibility exercises bolstering interoperability and proficiency with regional naval partners. During the first International Mine Countermeasures Exercise in the Arabian Gulf, Gridley trained with international forces strengthening partnerships among participating countries.

The ship also participated in the “Keen Sword” exercise, improving combat readiness and strengthening the U.S. Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force partnership.

The ship conducted multiple successful Strait of Hormuz (SOH) transits, and conducted high-visibility operations in 7th Fleet, maintaining U.S. maritime presence and improving regional stability.

Gridley helped provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and humanitarian/disaster response.

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

For more information on USS Gridley (DDG 101) visit:

http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg101

Or follow them on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/USS-Gridley-DDG-101/116135718461603

File photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/navalsurfaceforces/collections/72157630825328672/

Nimitz Strike Group Surface Action Group ships depart for deployment

By Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Sailors from four guided-missile destroyers in the Nimitz Strike Group Surface Action Group (SAG), will depart for a Western Pacific deployment Monday. Jan. 14.

San Diego-based USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 will join Everett, Wash.-based USS Shoup (DDG 86), already underway.

The SAG will deploy with approximately 1,200 Sailors and will focus on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts, which help establish conditions for regional stability.

The Nimitz Strike Group is led by Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 11.

“We’ve had very rigorous training and certification to prepare us to execute any mission,” Gumataotao said, “I’m very confident in Warrior Team 11 and especially DESRON 23 Sailors – they will do us proud.”

In November 2012, the Navy announced a delay in deployment as the result of an emergent maintenance requirement for USS Nimitz (CVN 68). This delay does not affect the Nimitz Strike Group SAG deployment.

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

USS Benfold Returns from Deployment

By Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – The Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS Benfold (DDG 65), will return from its seven-month, independent deployment to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility Jan. 11.

Cmdr. Richard LeBron, Benfold’s commanding officer, credits the ship’s crew with a successful performance during the deployment. “Our remarkable success over the last seven months is testament to the skills, professionalism, and inexhaustible energy of ‘Team Benfold,’ said LeBron. “I woke up every day inspired by my reliable and resolute crew who gave their all each-and-every day to ensure Benfold lived up to our motto and remained ‘100 percent ready 100 percent of the time.’”

Throughout Benfold’s deployment, she performed thousands of helicopter deck landings and was handpicked to validate warfare doctrines for minesweeper and maritime infrastructure defense. With 10 port visits in 2012, Benfold Sailors served as international ambassadors during their time ashore. Operational commanders relied on Benfold for Ballistic Missile Defense missions as combat systems readiness.

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

For more information on USS Benfold (DDG 65) visit:

http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg65

Or follow them on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/ussbenfold

File photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/navalsurfaceforces/collections/72157626904510763/

USS Thach Departs San Diego for Deployment

By Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – The guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) will depart San Diego for a scheduled six-month deployment to the 4th Fleet Area of Operations, Jan. 8.

Thach’s crew of 220 Sailors and Coast Guardsmen will be performing Counter-Illicit Trafficking operations designed to improve maritime stability within the region and protect free use of the sea lanes by thwarting the activities of drug traffickers and criminal organizations.

“We are really excited to go down to Central America and do our part,” said Cmdr. Hans Lynch, commanding officer of Thach. “The crew is anxious to put all their hard training to good use.”

Along with the crew of Thach, the drug interdiction team includes an interagency partnership with the ship’s organic Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team providing support for the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment. Thach will be supported by helicopter detachment, HSL-49, Det. 2 based at Naval Air Station North Island.

Joint, interagency and international partnerships strengthen U.S Third Fleet’s ability to respond to crises and protect the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners.

USS Curts enroute for a port visit in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

By Lt.j.g. Monconjay Woewiyu, USS Curts Public Affairs Officer

AT SEA – The guided-missile frigate USS Curts (FFG 38), will arrive in Puerto Vallarta Nov. 28 for a scheduled port visit, after concluding a six-month deployment in the Fourth Fleet Area of Responsibility in support of Operation Martillo.

Operation Martillo, Spanish for Hammer, is an anti-narcotic operation whose goal is to disrupt and seize illicit drug flow from Central and South America into Mexico and the U.S.

Curts seized nearly two metric tons of cocaine, worth a street value of $140 million, and scuttled seven drug trafficking vessels during Operation Martillo.

Curts is commanded by Cmdr. Fermin Espinoza, a first generation American with Mexican roots.

“Being that my veins run with Mexican-American blood, our stop in Puerto Vallarta has a very special significance for me,” said Espinoza. “I feel extremely honored to be with both my countries: Mexico, from which my parents and all my ancestors are from, and the U.S., the country which watched me come into the world and has me where I am today. The privilege of being in Mexico while in command of a U.S. warship is proof of the strong connection that our two countries share.”

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

To learn more about USS Curts, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ffg38/Pages/default.aspx.

USS Vandegrift Returns from Deployment

By Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – The guided-missile frigate, USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), will return from its six-month, independent deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean, Nov. 28.

Vandegrift participated in five exercises in support of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2012. CARAT is an annual bi-lateral naval exercise series between the U.S. and Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Vandegrift also conducted operations with the carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) while deployed.

“The honor of commanding this outstanding crew and returning this proud warship to its homeport after a successful deployment is matched only by the respect deserved by our Sailors and their families,” said Capt. H. Thomas Workman, Vandegrift’s commanding officer. “Their mutual dedication to our national objectives is unmatched and represents the cornerstone of Vandegrift’s and our Navy’s success.”

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

For more information on USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) visit:

http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ffg48

– USN –

Navy’s Newest Amphibious Ship to Arrive

SAN DIEGO – The Amphibious Transport Dock, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Anchorage (LPD 23) is scheduled to arrive at her new homeport of San Diego Nov. 21.

Anchorage, under the command of Capt. Brian Quin, departed Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Shipbuilding site in Avondale, La. Oct. 30 to sail to its new home port.

“Just over two years ago, our first Sailors left their families to begin bringing life to this ship,” said Quin. “Sailing Anchorage to San Diego culminates those years of hard work by both her shipbuilders and her crew. We are excited to be reunited with our families and look forward to continuing the process of preparing Anchorage for her maiden deployment.”

During its journey, the ship transited the Panama Canal. With a beam measuring 105 feet, Anchorage, a San Antonio-class LPD, is among the largest class of ships able to safely pass through the canal, whose locks measure 110 feet across. The ship completed the transit in 13 hours. The crew also made a port visit to Manzanillo, Mexico.

Anchorage is the seventh San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock and was delivered to the U.S. Navy Sept. 17. The ship will be commissioned in May in her namesake city of Anchorage, Alaska and is the second ship to be named for the city.

The ship’s primary mission is to embark, transport and land elements of a U.S. Marine Corps landing force in a variety of expeditionary and special operations capable missions using expeditionary fighting vehicles (EFVs); landing craft, air cushion (LCAC); tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys and CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters.

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the west coast of North America to the International Date Line and provides realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

For more information on Anchorage, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/lpd23/Pages/default.aspx or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/anchoragelpd23

USS Michael Murphy to Report Nov. 21, Ready for Duty in Hawaii

By Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM – The Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) will arrive Wednesday, Nov. 21 to its new home port of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The ship, commissioned last month in Manhattan, honors Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, a New York native who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan in 2005. Murphy was the first person to be awarded the medal for actions in Afghanistan, and the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.

At the ship’s commissioning Oct. 6, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said, “USS Michael Murphy, the most flexible, lethal and multi-mission capable ship of its kind, represents the backbone of our surface combatant fleet. It is one of the best destroyers in the world. This ship will operate forward around the globe, assuring allies, projecting power and defending our nation. And, like its namesake Lt. Michael Murphy, this ship will serve to protect, influence and win in an era of uncertainty.”

Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, will personally welcome Commanding Officer Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz and his crew of 279 officers and enlisted personnel, as well as their families, to their new home.

“It is a special privilege to bring the Navy’s newest surface ship to our waterfront. USS Michael Murphy is joining a great team here with the finest shore support imaginable. They are coming to a welcoming and supportive community here in Hawaii where they will be greeted with the spirit of aloha and made part of our ohana (family),” Ponds said.

USS Michael Murphy will be welcomed to Hawaii with a traditional Hawaiian blessing on board, a special pier-side tribute by fellow service members, music by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, and a performance by local hula halau.

The 9,200-ton Michael Murphy was built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works. The ship is the 62nd ship in the Arleigh Burke class of Navy destroyers and the last of its class. It is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and has a navigational draft of 31 feet.

USS Michael Murphy will deploy periodically from Hawaii under the Middle Pacific Surface Combatant (MPSC) deployment concept in which Pearl Harbor-based ships are ready to deploy forward in support of operations primarily in the Western Pacific under Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.

“This new member of our team demonstrates a commitment to rebalance to the Pacific, where we are always ready to operate forward,” Ponds said.

The guided-missile destroyer is designed to counter threats from the air and sea, and from aircraft, ships and submarines. USS Michael Murphy is one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced, state-of-the-art warships in the Fleet.

Anchorage Stops In Manzanillo On First Port Visit

USS Anchorage (LPD 23) Public Affairs

MANZANILLO, Mexico – USS Anchorage (LPD 23) moored pierside in Manzanillo, Mexico Nov. 14 on her first liberty port call.

Anchorage is currently on her maiden voyage transiting to her future homeport in San Diego. The ship departed the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Shipbuilding site in Avondale, La. Oct. 30.

“The city is beautiful, and it will definitely open my eyes on my family’s upbringing and heritage,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Tracy Sierra, who was raised in the U.S.-Mexico border city of El Paso, Texas. “The advantage of making a port visit like this when you’re in the Navy is you really get the best of both worlds. I represent my country in uniform and explore my family’s history when I’m not. These are the kinds of moments I look forward to as a surface Sailor.”

Capt. Brian Quin, Anchorage’s commanding officer, said the stop in Mexico gives the crew an opportunity to have fun after working hard for several months to take custody of Anchorage and sail her safely to San Diego.

“The crew has impressed me with their drive and attention to detail,” said Quin. “A port visit where crewmembers can relax, explore, learn and have fun is one of the few ways to say thank you. We still have a few more miles to travel on this road to get Anchorage to the fleet, but the crew has already proven they are up to the task.”

After Manzanillo, Anchorage will complete the final leg of her transit to San Diego where a homecoming ceremony will welcome back the Sailors and Marines assigned to the ship, most of whom have been away from home for more than seven months.

Anchorage is the seventh San Antonio class amphibious transport dock.
She was built at the Ingalls Shipbuilding site in Avondale, La. and delivered to the U.S. Navy Sept. 17. The ship will be commissioned in May in her namesake city of Anchorage, Alaska and is the second ship to be named for the city.

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

For more information on Anchorage, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/lpd23/Pages/default.aspx or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/anchoragelpd23.

USS Nimitz Completes JTFEX

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nichelle N. Whitfield, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 successfully completed Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) Nov. 12.

JTFEX is designed to test a strike group’s ability to operate in hostile and complex environments with other U.S. and coalition forces. The integrated exercise combines specific warfare areas with the purpose of making preparations for the strike group’s upcoming deployment.

“Nimitz, CSG 11 and CVW 11 displayed enormous resilience and competence while being tested as an integrated force in the Joint Task Force Exercise,” said Commander, CSG 11 Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao. “I am confident with the integrated training we received we are now fully capable and combat ready to quickly respond to any maritime operation.”

More than 8,000 Sailors worked together to hone their operational skills in preparation for their upcoming deployment. Upon completion of the exercise, U.S. Third Fleet Commander, Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman certified the CSG as “major combat operations ready” and ready to deploy. The Nimitz CSG is now postured and capable of supporting any of the Navy’s maritime strategy missions prior to its deployment.

“I’m very proud of Warrior Team 11’s performance during these past two months of integrated and joint training,” said Gumataotao. “We are ready to support our Navy’s mission anywhere, anytime.”

The Nimitz CSG includes Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eleven (CSG 11), Carrier Air Wing 11 and Commander Destroyer Squadron 23. Ships assigned include: USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Princeton (CG 59), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Antietam (CG 54).

Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and is responsible for providing realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

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