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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THIRD SENIOR LEADERSHIP SUMMIT HELD

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Terry L. Feeney, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

SAN FRANCISCO (NNS) — A Senior Leadership Seminar (SLS) was held aboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Oct. 4 and continues through Oct. 5.

The seminar focuses on the federal response capabilities to local and state requirements in the event of a major natural disaster in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“”The Senior Leadership Seminar is not just about the panels, it’s shaking a hand, looking each other in the eye and knowing we’re in this together,” said Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, commander, U.S. Third Fleet. “Each of us, together, bring capabilities to each situation.”

This is the third time the SLS has been held in conjunction with San Francisco Fleet Week, and the second time it’s been held aboard Makin Island. It offers an opportunity for senior Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard leaders to interact with local, state and regional leaders to focus on disaster preparedness and response.

In attendance for SLS was former Secretary of State George Schulz, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and various officials from the San Francisco and Oakland Fire and Police departments, along with medical and relief organizations. In addition to the sea services, the U.S. Army and Air Force were also represented.

“This seminar is invaluable,” said San Francisco Police Department Deputy Chief Denise Schmitt. “This is an opportunity to think ahead, to plan, and to expand our horizon. Meeting these senior leaders is a way to network. Knowing what equipment is available and to see it in action helps us to see the way ahead for improving our capablities.”

Being ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the event of potential natural or man-made disasters is a core capability of the Sea Services Maritime Strategy. Doing so takes advantage of the fact that the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are a rapidly deployable, technologically advanced team that is poised for action in a variety of roles as part of our nation’s joint force.

“The sea services bring a very important capability – logistics,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “What I saw yesterday at Ocean Beach was a demonstration of that. In one hour, an emergency surgical tent was set up to handle casualties. It’s that capability that will be important for this city if there is an emergency.”

The SLS is just one facet of San Francisco Fleet Week that recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of the sea services, past and present. Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are woven into the fabric of the community – as neighbors, volunteers and citizens actively working together to enhance the quality of life in the Bay Area.

Makin Island is the first United States Navy ship to be equipped with gas turbines and an electric drive system, replacing the older technology of steam boilers. With the ship’s electric drive running, which is similar in functionality to that of a hybrid car, it is possible to transit longer distances using less fuel.

Additionally, Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to have an advanced electrical plant that powers all of the ship’s auxiliaries, including the capability to produce 200,000 gallons of fresh water every day.

Operated by a crew of more than 1,000 Sailors, Makin Island is a multi-mission platform that is equipped to meet the needs of our country, whether that is supporting national objectives or by providing disaster relief.

Makin Island’s revolutionary technology is estimated to save the Navy $250 million throughout its 40-year lifecycle and is a model for future ship designs.

For further information about San Francisco Fleet Week, visit http://www.fleetweek.us//.

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U.S. 3RD FLEET SHIPS, SAILORS PARTICIPATING IN SAN FRANCISCO FLEET WEEK

SAN FRANCISCO (NNS) – Three ships of the U.S. Navy’s 3rd Fleet are scheduled to visit San Francisco to participate in the 31st annual San Francisco Fleet Week Oct. 4-9.

The ships participating include the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111) and USS Preble (DDG 88).

San Francisco Fleet Week 2012 (SFFW 12) is an opportunity for the American public to meet their Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard team and to experience the best of the sea services. More than 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are scheduled to participate in SFFW 12 to celebrate the shared maritime history of the naval services and the Bay Area. This event will showcase naval personnel, equipment, technology and capabilities with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HA/DR).

SFFW 12 will include the third annual Senior Leadership Seminar (SLS), which brings together leaders from the military along with local, regional, state and federal agencies and the private sector to discuss their capabilities to respond to a natural disaster in the Bay Area. The SLS provides senior Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard leaders an excellent opportunity to build partnerships with their local, state and regional counterparts that are involved in disaster preparedness and response.

There will be several opportunities for the public to interact with the crew and leadership of the participating ships during SFFW 12. In addition to the SLS, there will be an HA/DR-themed static display area at the Marina Green, ship tours, Urban Search and Rescue Training involving SFPD, SFFD, Sailors and Marines at Treasure Island, the Parade of Ships, Battle of the Bands in Golden Gate Park, and Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard participation in the Italian Heritage Day Parade and the San Francisco 49ers Military Salute game. Additionally, the Blue Angels will perform along the waterfront during the Fleet Week air show.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval operations across 50 million square miles of the eastern and northern Pacific Ocean, from the west coast of the United States to the International Date Line.

For further information about San Francisco Fleet Week, visit http://www.fleetweek.us/

For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.

Pacific Partnership 2012 returns to San Diego

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Regan

PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 7, 2012) – Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12), embarked aboard Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), will return to its home port of San Diego Sept. 14, after completing a nearly five-month deployment on the largest annual humanitarian civic assistance mission in the Asia Pacific region.

More than 1,200 service members and civilians took part in PP12, which visited the countries of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

At the invitation of the host nations, PP12 brought the expertise of U.S. service members and personnel from 13 partner nation militaries and 28 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) to build and strengthen relationships and work together to learn how to better collectively respond to natural disasters and crisis.

Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEE) were a large focus of this year’s mission, tallying more than 60,000 man-hours of contact with host nation government, military, and civilian personnel to learn from one another in the areas of disaster relief preparation/simulations, joint surgeries, medical/dental and veterinary care, engineering and clean water supply, culinary exchanges and cultural learning.

Overall, the PP12 crew medically treated and evaluated more than 49,000 people at ashore temporary medical clinics, conducted more than 900 surgeries aboard Mercy, and treated or evaluated more than 7,000 livestock and domestic animals. U.S., Australian and host nation engineers built or refurbished 13 buildings and the crew collectively participated in more than 100 community service projects to include the delivery of 244 pallets (more than 144,000 pounds) of donated supplies requested by host nations. Mercy will have sailed more than 20,000 nautical miles, nearly the distance of circling the equator.

PP12 Mission Commander Capt. Jim Morgan said during the closing ceremony in Cambodia that the really important parts of this mission are the professional and cultural exchanges between PP12 participants and the host and partner nations.

“It’s through increased understanding and trust that we will all work better and more efficiently together – not if, but when – a natural disaster strikes,” said Morgan.

Pacific Partnership, an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet sponsored humanitarian and civic assistance mission now in its seventh year, brings together U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and build disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

For more news from Pacific Partnership, visit:

Blog: http://pacificpartnership/wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook/pacificpartnership
Twitter: http://twitter.com/pacificpartner

B-roll available upon request.

USS Milius returns from deployment

SAN DIEGO – The guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) is scheduled to return to San Diego Sep. 11 after an eight-month independent deployment to the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility.

Milius conducted ballistic missile defense operations and participated in Maritime Security Operations in the Arabian Gulf. Milius enhanced relationships with foreign coastal states, provided local security to merchantmen and fishermen in international waters, and conducted approach-and-assistance visits to mariners at sea. Additionally, the ship conducted Iraqi infrastructure protection exercises with the U.S. Coast Guard, Kuwaiti navy and British Royal navy forces.

“Milius deployed to provide Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities,” said Cmdr. Nicholie T. Bufkin, commanding officer of Milius. “Our day-to-day operations were theater security cooperation conducting maritime security operations to build partnerships and good will. As a multi-mission capable destroyer, Milius was always ready to accomplish all tasking. I’m proud of the great job done by the officers and crew.”
USS Milius (DDG 69) is named in honor of Navy pilot Capt. Paul L. Milius. On Feb. 27, 1968, Milius was piloting an OP-2E observation aircraft on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos. While conducting his mission, the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft artillery fire. Milius elected to remain at the controls of his badly damaged aircraft, maintaining stable flight, and ordered his seven crew members to bail out, all of whom were rescued. Just before the aircraft crashed, Milius is believed to have bailed out, but rescuers were unable to locate him. Milius was declared “Missing In Action.” His status was revised April 26, 1978, to “Presumed Killed In Action.” He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
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 Milius (DDG 69) visit:
http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg69
or follow them on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/USSMilius

Deployment photos:
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=130520
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=122940
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=120977
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=120976
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=120650

USS Mobile Bay departs for deployment

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

SAN DIEGO – The Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser, USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), is scheduled to depart Sept. 1 for an eight-month deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean and Arabian Gulf as part of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Strike Group (JCSSG).

JCSSG is returning to the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility four months ahead of schedule after recently completing a seven-month deployment in March.

The ship is named for the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War in 1864.

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 Mobile Bay visit the ship’s website at:
http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/cg53
File photo:
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=115683

USS Sampson returns to San Diego following deployment to Western Pacific

SAN DIEGO – The guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) is scheduled to return to San Diego Aug. 31 after a six-month independent deployment to the Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility (AOR).

Sampson, commanded by Cmdr. Dwayne D. Ducommun, operated with partner nations in Southeast Asia during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises, Suez Canal escort operations, as well as assignments with the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). Sampson also took part in the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal celebration.

“I am very proud of the body of work and the effort of this crew for the last six months,” Ducommun said. “As with every deployment, the highlight is returning home today to happy loving friends and families and a grateful nation. We are truly fortunate and look forward to our next challenge.”

Sampson is the fourth U.S. destroyer named after Rear Admiral William Thomas Sampson, whose naval service lasted from 1857 until 1902, including command of the North Atlantic Station during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

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 Sampson (DDG102) visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg102
or follow them on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/USSSampson

Deployment photos:
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=132200
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=130338
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=130335
http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=130278

RIMPAC 2012 Concludes

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ernesto Bonilla, RIMPAC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — The world’s largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), officially concluded Aug 3.

The 23rd exercise in the biennial RIMPAC series, this year’s version involved 22 nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, and more than 200 aircraft that operated in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The exercise is designed to foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

Part of that cooperation involved more than 25,000 personnel working together from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“It is a testament to the power of RIMPAC that we can bring a record number of nations together and then conduct complex and purposeful training in challenging scenarios like humanitarian assistance operations,” said Adm. Cecil Haney, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “The partnerships, cooperation and camaraderie forged during this exercise are essential to the promotion of peace in the Pacific region and will be invaluable during future contingencies, wherever and whenever they might be.”

RIMPAC 2012 demonstrated a variety of exercise firsts, including the first time non-U.S. officers commanded components of the combined task force during the exercise. Commodore Stuart Mayer of the Royal Australian Navy commanded the Maritime Component and Brig. Gen. Michael Hood of the Royal Canadian Air Force commanded the Air Component. Other key leaders of the multinational force included 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.

“I am truly pleased with what we have achieved as part of this exercise,” said Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd, the Deputy Combined Task Force Commander. “The challenging scenarios allowed Canadians and our Pacific Rim partners to develop the skills we will need to work successfully with each other, wherever we may be called upon to deploy,” said Lloyd.

The U.S. Navy also demonstrated its “Great Green Fleet” with surface combatants and aircraft, functioning on biofuel blends for the first time in an operation. The demonstration highlighted the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus’ energy goals to reduce the Department of Navy’s (DON’s) consumption of energy, decrease its reliance on foreign sources of oil, and significantly increase its use of alternative energy.

“If you talk to anyone who lives within the rim of the Pacific they will tell you, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when the next natural disaster or crisis may affect one of the countries,” said Beaman. “We (RIMPAC participants) are forming a team. In the event of the next crisis or disaster, this team will have worked with each other and understand the processes that a coalition will have to go through in order to form and be able to accomplish whatever mission we may be asked to do.”

For the first time during RIMPAC, the exercise featured a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) event that facilitated training and certification for expeditionary forces to respond to foreign disasters as a Crisis Response Adaptive Force Package. Also conducted were three SINKEXS, multi-force Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training, live-fire exercises , surface-to-air engagements, air-to-air missile engagements, surface-to-surface engagements, amphibious assaults, vessel boardings, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, salvage operations, conducted air-to-air refuelings and mine clearance operations.

“Watching this 22-nation coalition come together, each with their own individual training goals and objectives; watching the team put a plan together that accounted for each one of those training goals and objectives, and then for the last three weeks watching it all unfold; for me, that will be a lasting memory,” said Beaman.

Reservists Support Naval Expeditionary Force Intelligence During RIMPAC 2012

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Dille, RIMPAC Public Affairs
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – As exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 entered the final weeks, 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 that dominated in the first half gave way to a coordinated, tactical phase, where a Navy Reserve intelligence team helped drive the scenario.

Thirteen Reservists specializing in military intelligence integrated with the naval expeditionary force (NEF), one of seven joint task force commands working under the combined force maritime component commander to respond to the military scenarios of RIMPAC. The Reservists’ analysis of things like bomb attack reports, enemy activities and civilian emergencies within the fictitious exercise scenario were directly accessible to expeditionary force leaders.

The Reserve intelligence team, made up of five officers and eight enlisted Intelligence Specialists (IS), integrated into the watch center at the NEF command post on the waterfront of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The NEF command post also housed Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 1 command operations.

Two of the Reserve intelligence team officers, both explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists, served as liaison naval officer (LNO) consultants at the Pacific Warfighting Center (PWC) on Ford Island, while two intelligence officers served at the NEF command post, one as a watch captain and the other overseeing intelligence operations. The third officer, Capt. Paul Jensen, is the commanding officer of the EODGRU 1 Reserve component, and served as deputy NEF commodore during the exercise.

“Getting to take part in a real world, high-level exercise, the training, the experience can’t be attained anywhere else,” said Jensen. “You can’t attain that on a drill weekend, you can’t get it at a Reserve-only exercise; our immersion into the jobs we would do if we were called upon to activate is the main point of us coming here, and the main value that we take away.”

The Reserve intelligence team’s immersion during RIMPAC involved living and working in air-conditioned tents at the EODGRU 1 compound, the unit whose headquarters became NEF headquarters during RIMPAC. According to Jensen, the NEF is a relatively new concept where an adaptive force package is assembled from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command forces based on a specific mission and then deployed as the lead element into a conflict to assist the host nation with internal defense, and air and sea port defense until the arrival of follow on forces. The adaptive force package is assembled with capabilities that can range from explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage, maritime security, naval construction (Seabees), maritime civil affairs, intelligence, riverine, and combat camera. This year, NEF had command and control over 18 units from coalition partner nations including Australian, Russia, and Canada, in addition to U.S. forces and the Reserve intelligence team who contributed niche support at the headquarters level.

“I have found that it is one of the best cases of integration of reservists and the active component,” said Jensen. “They’re not looking for stuff for us to do, we immediately integrated in and offered up increased capacity in those mission areas that they maintain.”

One key mission area during the tactical phase of RIMPAC was locating simulated improvised explosive devices. For the intelligence team, this meant the IS’s monitored the internal network known as “CENTRIX,” where the exercise scenario is played out in a sort of virtual reality. Intelligence information was sent, or “injected,” into the intelligence watch monitor by exercise controllers know as “the White Cell,” or by other exercise sources, through notes within CENTRIX, usually an email.

“In real life, it would be coming in from all different directions,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Brad Vancleave, a nine-year Reservist serving as request for information (RFI) and information collections manager. Information sources could include people returning from the field giving direct reports to the NEF intelligence team, or “cell.” They would also include field teams briefing the NEF commanders after a mission, or field specialists collecting information using sophisticated surveillance equipment.

“The intel guys don’t do as much outright collection as they do assessment — what it means,” said Jensen. “And then they have a product they can give the commander so he can make decisions based on that, and then potentially send out EOD or other forces as required.”

During RIMPAC, the field teams serving within NEF operated in simulated field conditions in order to add an element of increased reality to the scenario. Dozens of air conditioned tents were set up in compounds, known as tent cities, scattered across Ford Island and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. It was from these tent cities that expeditionary forces reacted to the information the seasoned Reserve IS’s analyzed.

“This is old-hat for me,” said Vancleave. As a civilian, this is what I do. I came from a tent in Afghanistan, and was a little hard-pressed to know I’d be in a tent in Hawaii; but this is how it is in theater, this is realistic.

Just before attending his first RIMPAC this year, Vancleave spent six months in Afghanistan as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilot with a military contractor. He also deployed in 2003, just after joining the Reserves, for more than a year with SEAL Team 5 as a targeting analyst focused on human intelligence. Between his job flying UAVs and gathering intelligence with the Navy, Vancleave has spent more than four years boots-on-ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, experience that helped him separate kernels of valuable information from chaff.

Vancleave and the other IS’s on watch stayed keenly focused on intelligence injects related to smuggling routes, weapons smuggling, narcotics, improvised explosive device detonations and discoveries, and other land-based reports.

“I tracked those instances, and then they got reported on our built-slides for the update brief, or for the PWC to focus in on imagery collection so that we could take that information and get something further,” said Vancleave. “It’s not as much about the capabilities right now as it is about the process.”

“A lot of them have done multiple deployments, and they’ve worked as [intelligence] specialists and intel analysts during those deployments; that’s an incredible value-added skill set to bring to the team that they didn’t have without our folks,” said Jensen. “It’s more, it’s better; it’s not an issue that they couldn’t do it without us, it’s that they can do it a lot better with us.”

The Intelligence Reservists made the exercise more dynamic for EODGRU 1’s Intelligence Exploitation Team (IET) by adding realism to their field operations. Chief Intelligence Specialist Eloy Rodriguez, EODGRU 1 Reserve element leading chief petty officer and watch supervisor, along with the other Reserve IS’s on his team, served as role players impersonating foreign nationals whom active duty IS’s on the IET, known as hum’inters because of their human-intelligence gathering specialization, interviewed. This interview activity simulated the way hum’inters would gather human-intelligence information in the field, a process involving interaction between human intelligence collectors and people living in the local population.

The information the hum’inters gathered from Rodriguez and the other Reserve IS’s wouldn’t have changed the course of the structured exercise, but if the hum’inters hadn’t asked the right questions in the right way, Rodriguez said it could have made reaching their goal more difficult.

“This side-play helps drive how the intel analysts from EOD build their target development so that they can defeat the IED networks,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez trained early on as an aerospace engineer, and has since become a paralegal at a law firm in San Diego. He joined the Navy as an IS in 1987 and gained experience along the way working with UAV aircraft as part of the Naval Special Warfare Command beginning in 2001. In 2007, he started working with EOD, and has maintained that connection ever since. RIMPAC 2012 marks his fourth, and his experience with the biennial exercise ranges over 20 years.

“My first one was in the ‘90s,” said Rodriguez. “My last three have been with EOD, and I’ve seen it grow to this point where there’s an incredible level of detail.” He said this year’s incorporation of human intelligence collection had direct impact on EOD’s actions.

“It’s like getting the ground truth from the locals to determine if there is infiltration of bad guys in the area of interest,” said Rodriguez. “They ask just general questions to find out if this individual that have moved into this area are actually from there, and if they’re coming from somewhere else, what their intent is: is their intent to be a part of the community and contribute, or is it something else?”

As the tactical phase of RIMPAC progressed, Rodriguez began rotating his team through the watch floor and out into the field with EOD technicians to exercise their full range of skills.

“What that does is, it builds a trust with the EOD techs; they’re like, wow, this guy can shoot,” said Rodriguez. “So, the credibility of that IS has now just grown exponentially, and that EOD tech can now come to us with confidence in our abilities.”

The Reserve intelligence team continues to support NEF and EODGRU 1 through the end of the 36-day RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise that involves twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. Members of EODGRU 1’s Reserve element also supplement real-world operations, in addition to exercises, including the unit’s eight-month mission as Joint Task Force (JTF) Troy in Baghdad in 2011 where they were responsible for exercising command and control of operational explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) forces throughout Iraq.

VX-1 Flies P-8 Poseidon during RIMPAC 2012

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – The P-8A Poseidon jet, a replacement maritime patrol aircraft for the P-3C Orion, made its Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise debut this year, flown by two air crews from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, during the 23rd edition of the biennial exercise .

“While the P-3C Orion is a very forgiving aircraft and has served the fleet very well, the P-8A Poseidon is easier to fly, trims well, and handles flawlessly [at low altitude],” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Artis, VX-1 maintenance officer and integrated training team pilot. “It’s easy to maneuver, and the situational awareness in the cockpit is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Getting used to the technology and the different displays can be a challenge, but overall it’s fun to fly.”

The VX-1 crews flew two P-8As during 24 exercise events ranging from routine test flights to simulated anti-submarine warfare. VX-1 officials said training requirements are extensive in the P-8A because of the complexity and the speed of the aircraft, and that RIMPAC provided extensive, open airspace and a robust exercise schedule where the squadron could demonstrate the capability of the new aircraft.

“The addition of two P-8A aircraft from Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 enabled us to get an early look at how we can integrate this new platform in a Joint and Combined operating environment,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, who flew a mission with VX-1 earlier in the week. “I had the opportunity to personally observe its great potential during a flight where the crew demonstrated each weapon system while we conducted ASW and ISR.”

The P-8A is based on the Boeing 737-800ERX airliner, but incorporates a host of modifications. The Poseidon will replace the P-3C Orion, now in its 50th year of service, as a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. It will maximize the experience and technology of the Orion but with significant growth potential, greater payload capacity, advanced mission systems, software and communications. Six additional fuel tanks in P-8As allow for the jet’s extended range.

“The P-3C is an aging airframe with aging systems on board.” said Cmdr. Gregory Sleppy, VX-1 operational test director for the P-8. “It’s becoming very expensive to operate because of the age of the airframe, and has been up for 50 years; that’s half the life of [naval] aviation.”

P-8As feature Raytheon multi-mission surface search radars, and incorporate a short bomb bay aft of the wings for torpedoes, sonobouys (small expendable sonar capsules that are dropped or ejected from the aircraft for anti-submarine warfare or underwater acoustic research), and cargo.

“We can look forward to an increased availability rate right off the bat,” said Sleppy. “Next you’re going to see a more interoperable platform. The communications suite on the aircraft is far more advanced. Those are going to be the immediate things that the fleet commanders are going to see.”

Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the RIMPAC exercise from 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.

U.S. and Australian Ships Conduct Anti-Piracy Exercise During RIMPAC 2012

By: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 25, 2012) – U.S. and Australian ships demonstrated visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) procedures to strengthen the crews’ abilities to conduct maritime security operations, July 25, as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012.

The exercise between the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) and the Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth (FFH 157), part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 176, was a joint VBSS demonstration that allowed Sailors from both ships to share techniques and experience regarding the boarding of vessels.

VBSS teams are responsible for boarding vessels suspected of conducting piracy operations that may include illegal activity like trafficking of humans or smuggling illicit drugs.

“The U.S. exercises international law to intercept, query and board a vessel to verify what they say they have on board, is actually what they have on board,” said Ensign Steven McClendon, Chosin’s force protection officer.

Perth played the role of a fictional ship suspected of illegal activity while Chosin took the role of deploying a VBSS team to verify that the ship was not involved in illegal activity.

Chosin began by querying the suspect ship, which was initially uncooperative.

“We then exercised simulating warning shots,” said McClendon, “they became compliant and let us board.”

The VBSS team aboard Chosin geared up with simulated weapons and prepared to conduct a boarding at sea.

“We disembarked with the RHIB (rigid-hull inflatable boat) and traveled to the other ship,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Leland Foltz, assigned to Chosin’s supply department.

“My normal role is to be a ‘breacher,'” said Foltz, “so I normally have a kit on my back and I carry the shotgun. Whenever we run into a locked door on a non-compliant ship, I break the lock and we break in the door.”

Once aboard Perth, the Australian and U.S. teams participating in the VBSS exercise conducted a safety brief. Chosin’s VBSS team of 12 split into three groups, each joined by safety trainers aboard Perth.

“So from there we went to verify their cargo, which was supposed to be carrots,” said Foltz, “We found automatic weapons, drugs, and a lot of simulated resistance from the crew–we didn’t find any carrots.”

After successfully conducting the exercise aboard Perth, U.S. and Australian sailors had a chance to connect and talk to each other.

“We got to talk to them before we got back into our RHIB. They were professional and really friendly,” said McClendon.

Chosin’s VBSS team practices boarding procedures inport, but has never had the opportunity to board a vessel while at sea.

“That was the first time our team has actually been able to do something like that,” said McClendon, “It was a real good experience to get into the RHIB and climb up another ship.”

“This was something new. It was fun and intense,” said Fultz.

CTF 176 is an expeditionary strike group (ESG) and consists of participants from Australia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Tonga, New Zealand, and the U.S. throughout RIMPAC 2012, the task force will participate in a wide range of amphibious exercises, non-combatant evacuation operation exercises, helicopter and mechanized raids, and Marine live-fire support exercises.

RIMPAC 2012 is the world’s largest international maritime exercise, and is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c3f/.