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.

Archive for May, 2012

USS Curts Departs for Final Deployment

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

SAN DIEGO – The guided-missile frigate USS Curts (FFG 38), is scheduled to depart for a scheduled, six-month independent deployment to the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), June 1.

Curts, commanded by Cmdr. Fermin Espinoza, 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.

The deployment is expected to be the last for the ship. Commissioned October 8, 1983, Curts is scheduled for decommissioning in 2013 after nearly 30 years of service to the nation.

U.S. THIRD Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international dateline.

USS Essex returns to San Diego after 12 years

 By USS Essex Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – USS Essex (LHD 2) returns to San Diego May 17 after completing 12 years as the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in Sasebo, Japan. The crew of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) took over Essex April 23.

“Essex departed San Diego in 2000 to serve as a forward deployed asset to 7th Fleet,” said Capt. Chuck Litchfield, commanding officer of Essex. “I know there are a lot of former crew members and fans of the ship still in the area, so it is going to be a real pleasure to re-introduce ’The Iron Gator’ to San Diego.”

Essex was the second ship to serve as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces having taken over those duties from USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3).

“John Paul Jones, the captain of the original Bonhomme Richard, said, ‘Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.’” said Litchfield, “In the last two years, I have been humbled to witness that truth in my crew. It wasn’t easy to turnover a ship we had poured so much blood, sweat, toil and tears into; however, the crew never looked back, they took immediate ownership of Essex. We have spent the last 18 days in transit across the Pacific defining for ourselves what it means to be Essex.”

Essex is scheduled to participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands this summer, and will undergo an extensive maintenance availability period at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego after its return.

Essex will be assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 within U.S. Third Fleet and homeported in San Diego. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the International Date Line.

RIMPAC to begin June 29

By Commander, U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Twenty-two nations, 42 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.  RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

Hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, and led by Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, commander of the U.S. Third Fleet (C3F), RIMPAC 2012 marks the first time non-U.S. officers will command components of the combined task force during the exercise. Commodore Stuart Mayer of the Royal Australian Navy will command the Maritime Component and Brig. Gen. Michael Hood of the Royal Canadian Air Force will command the Air Component. Other key leaders of the multinational force include Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd, deputy commander of the Combined Task Force (CTF), and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Rear Adm. Fumiyuki Kitagawa, vice commander of the CTF.

The theme of RIMPAC 2012 is “Capable, Adaptive, Partners.” The participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training syllabus includes amphibious operations; gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises as well as counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

RIMPAC 2012 will feature the first demonstration of a U.S. Navy “Great Green Fleet,” during which U.S. surface combatants and carrier-based aircraft will test, evaluate and demonstrate the cross-platform utility and functionality of biofuels. This demonstration will also incorporate prototype energy efficiency initiatives such as solid state lighting, on-line gas turbine waterwash and energy management tools.

This year’s exercise includes units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Details of RIMPAC activities and imagery are available at Media interested in covering the exercise should contact the C3F Public Affairs Officer at (619) 767-4382. Contact information for the RIMPAC Combined Information Bureau will be made available prior to the beginning of the exercise.

USNS MERCY (T-AH 19) departs for Pacific Partnership 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA – U.S. Pacific Fleet’s humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) mission, known as Pacific Partnership, deployed aboard U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) May 3, 2012, for a four-month deployment to the host nations of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Mercy was originally scheduled to deploy May 1, 2012. The ship’s underway was delayed due to a mechanical issue in the ship’s forward propulsion.

Mercy is the lead U.S. vessel and deployed with a joint, combined team of U.S. military and interagency personnel, representing the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps; U.S. Department’s of State and Justice, the Agency for International Development, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Japanese landing ship tank Oosumi (LST 4001), carrying a complete medical team, helicopters and representatives from

Japanese volunteer organizations will join Mercy during its stops in the Philippines and Vietnam. Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will also deploy teams of personnel as partner nations supporting the mission.

NGOs and international agencies are a critical part of the continuity that maintains and builds capacity with local populations. This year, NGOs participating include the East-West Center, Global Grins, Hope Worldwide, LDS Charities, Oceanit, Project Handclasp, Project Hope, U.C.-San Diego Pre-Dental Society, University of Hawaii, Vietnam Medical Assistance Program, and World Vets, along with numerous in-country organizations.

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THIRD Fleet Wraps up SAAM with a Unique Perspective

By Commander, U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Deputy Commander, U.S. Third Fleet, Rear Adm. Patrick McGrath, a Navy Reservist and prosecutor for the office of the district attorney of San Diego, brought his own unique perspective to the staff during the training sessions in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

Commander, U.S. Third Fleet conducted an all hands stand down during April, the month the Department of the Navy designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Our intention is to not make this a one-month event where Sailors follow the drumbeat,” said McGrath. “We have to do everything we can to prevent sexual assault.”

Third Fleet’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response representatives, in concert with the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions, hosted the staff training.

One of the key points of SAAM training at Third Fleet was the bystander intervention concept. “I’ve seen over the years that the buddy system is a way of protecting our Sailors,” said McGrath. “We are teaching our Sailors to know how to protect themselves from cases of circumstance. The case could be simply saying, “‘Knock it off, maybe you’ve had enough to drink,’ or ‘maybe you should head home.’”

During the two one-hour training sessions, McGrath, who heads the San Diego District Attorney’s Office Family Protection Unit, addressed a broad range of topics including prevention, response, family advocacy and the Victim Witness Assistance Program. McGrath used specific examples from his court cases involving Sailors, expressing how situational misinterpretation is not an excuse.

McGrath gave a final overall message to Third Fleet stating; “Nobody, regardless of rank, has the right to pressure a person to do something they don’t want sexually.”

USS Independence to Arrive in San Diego

By USS Independence Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) is scheduled to arrive at Naval Base San Diego May 2, marking the completion of the ship’s maiden voyage to her homeport.

Independence is the first Independence-variant of the new LCS class to transit the Panama Canal, conduct a foreign port visit and arrive in San Diego.

“We are proud to be pulling into San Diego and bringing our ship to her homeport for the first time,” said Cmdr. Gerald R. Olin, commanding officer of Independence’s Gold Crew. “This is the culmination of two years of testing and hard work by this crew since commissioning, and it feels great to be almost home.”

The 23-day transit, lead by the ship’s Gold Crew, included a port visit to Manzanillo, Mexico, and marks the successful completion of testing the ability of the ship’s Mine Countermeasures (MCM) mission package to detect, localize, and destroy mines in a tactical environment.

Upon arrival in San Diego, Gold Crew will begin the process of turnover with the ship’s Blue Crew, including a custody inspection of parts and an exchange of command.

LCS is a fast, agile, networked surface combatant designed to operate in the near-shore environment, while capable of open-ocean tasking, and win against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines, and swarming small craft. LCS’ modular, focused-mission design provides combatant commanders the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to ensure maritime dominance and access for the joint force.

U.S. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the west coast of North America to the International Date Line.

For more news from USS Independence (LCS 2), visit