AT SEA – The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) assisted four stranded mariners in the waters off San Clemente Island Monday, Nov. 28 while conducting routine training operations in the Pacific Ocean.
“The United States Navy always stands ready to provide assistance,” said Cmdr. David Oden, Benfold’s commanding officer. “It was our privilege to help these seamen.”
Benfold initially detected the small fishing craft using the ship’s state-of-the-art optical sight system. The ship deployed a rigid-hull inflatable boat with engineers and medical personnel aboard to assess the condition of the vessel and crew, as well as render assistance. A helicopter assigned to the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Three (HSC-23) provided aerial support during the assistance operation.
After determining that the small boat was no longer seaworthy, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sea Otter quickly responded in order to take the mariners aboard and their vessel in tow.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my crew for going above and beyond,” said Oden. “Particular credit was given to Fire Controlman 3rd Class Lisa Stamp for first sighting the craft. It’s exceptional Sailors like FC3 Stamp that make this the best ship in the Navy and the best Navy in the world.”
Benfold is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer home ported in San Diego. The ship has a crew of approximately 300 Sailors and serves as one of the Navy’s premier ballistic missile defense ships.
SAN DIEGO – The Chilean Submarine CS Carrera (SS 22) departed for Chile from Naval Base Point Loma Nov. 23 after taking part in the Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI) with Commander, U.S. Third Fleet.
DESI 2011, a three-month partnership, allows the U.S. and other partner navies to work together to train and test underwater warfare capabilities through engagement tactics, weapon systems tests and close encounter operations. This training helps the American and Chilean navies to train their crews and test capabilities while helping foster bilateral cooperation and further improve joint interoperability.
“This year we are improving this program with a new class of submarine that the Chilean Navy has, the Scorpene-class,” said Chilean Lt. German Espinoza, the liaison officer for Carrera. “We’ve been doing a lot of exercises that were once done with the older, 209-class submarines. Now that we have the Scorpene-class, we’ve been able to conduct exercises with helicopters, submarines, and strike-force units.”
Scorpene-class submarines are noted for their ability to transit quietly at low speeds, run on diesels at periscope depth, and the capability to operate exclusively on battery power for extended periods of time.
“In this year’s DESI, we were able to participate in several important exercises including CHILEMAR, a submarine rescue operation where the Carrera intentionally bottomed and a team from the U.S. Navy’s Deep Submergence Unit conducted a simulated submarine rescue,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hogan, operations officer for Commander, Submarine Squadron 11.
The situation simulated a submarine that was disabled and seeking assistance. Deep Submergence Unit and Carrera showcased the two nations’ ability to mate submarines and rescue vehicles successfully and safely rescued the distressed submarine’s crew.
“We get the best of both worlds in this case,” said Hogan. “We have our own goals with our submarines and we have shared goals. We learn from them and they learn from us. It strengthens our relationship.”
“This partnership is very important for us,” said Espinoza. “We are improving our relationship between countries, institutions, and especially crews. Now that we are here, we can understand the conditions in this area and improve relations for future operations.”
The DESI program increases partnerships and encourages cooperation between partner nations, furthering the core capabilities of the maritime strategy. Other participating DESI partners include Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Joseph M. Buliavac, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
SAN DIEGO – A change of command ceremony will be held Nov. 3 aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45).
During the ceremony Capt. John C. Ring will relieve Cmdr. Lance Lesher to become the 14th commanding officer of Comstock.
Capt. Ring is relieving Cmdr. Lesher after serving as the executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from Oct. 2009 to June 2011.
Cmdr. Lesher served as commanding officer of Comstock from April 2010 to Nov. 2011, during which he lead the ship through a seven-month Western Pacific deployment. His next billet will be as the Operations Officer for Expeditionary Strike Group 2.
Comstock was commissioned in 1990 as the second ship to be named after the Comstock Lode, an early American pioneer mining site near Virginia City, Nev. The Comstock Lode, founded in 1859, has become indelible in the history of our American West; it produced more than $500,000,000 in gold and silver.
Comstock is 5th ship in the Whidbey Island class. The ship is charged with transporting U.S. Marines and their equipment to designated areas around the world and launching and supporting landing craft and helicopters during amphibious operations.