Archive for October, 2008

Pathfinder Identifies Two Sunken Vessels During At-Sea Demonstration

Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

Our Naval Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US Navy and allied naval forces in action. Buy the Naval Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

Military Sealift Command (MSC) oceanographic survey ship USNS Pathfinder (T-AGS 60) identified two sunken vessels during a joint, at-sea capabilities demonstration in Ukrainian territorial waters.

German coastal submarine U-18 was the first target the oceanographers identified using underwater video capabilities with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

The second ship is believed to be RUS Prut, a Russian minelayer that sank during World War I in 1914.

“The sea floor is a resting place for brave sailors, regardless of the country they come from,” said Dr. Serge A. Gulyar, head of the Underwater Physiology Department at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, who participated in the search.

The ship’s civilian oceanographers used equipment such as a side-scan sonar, multi-beam sonar and ROVs to locate the vessels. The sonars use sound pulses on the ocean’s floor to locate possible shipwrecks. The ROV is deployed underwater to verify the sonars’ findings.

“It was interesting using all of the state-of-the-art equipment,” said Gulyar. “As a physiologist, it was nice learning about all the technical parts of the underwater exploration.”

Civilian surveyors from the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), a team of civilian oceanographers from the U.S.-base Institute of Exploration (IFE) and Ukrainian sailors, historians and surveyors headed the joint, at-sea demonstration.

“I am happy with the amount of work that we were able to accomplish during this survey,” said IFE Chief Scientist Katy Croff. “During this exploration we discovered many sonar targets that we hope to investigate and identify during future projects.”

MSC operates more than 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

NAVOCEANO employs approximately 1,100 civilian, military and contract personnel and is responsible for providing oceanographic products and services to all elements within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Jenniffer Rivera (NNS)


October 9, 2008 at 2:38 am

MH-53s fly final combat missions

MH-53 Pave Low

MH-53 Pave Low

Find the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) MH-53 Pave Low special operations helicopter on posters, art prints, and a 12-month calendar at The PatriArt Gallery.

Aircrews flew the remaining six MH-53 Pave Low helicopters on their last combat missions in support of special operations forces Sept. 27 in Southwest Asia.

The last mission, a SOF logistical resupply and passenger movement throughout central and southern Iraq, marks their last combat mission before the airframe retires after nearly 40 years in the Air Force inventory.

“We really feel like we are standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Lt. Col. Gene Becker, the 20th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron commander and a MH-53 pilot of 13 years. “(We owe it to) the folks, who over the past 40 years, have built the capability of this aircraft and the mission. We were just the lucky ones to be here at the end.”

“We felt a great responsibility to close the MH-53’s remaining months in the Air Force in a professional, disciplined and safe manner,” he said. “At the end of the last mission, we felt like we achieved that goal. A goal, that we believe, was the best way to honor those (who contributed to) the last 40 years of this magnificent helicopter.”

HH-53s, with their unique special operations mission and capabilities, have played a vital role in several operations during a career spanning four decades. The MH-53 was the lead command and control helicopter during a raid of Son Tay prison camp in 1970, a mission linked to improving conditions for prisoners of war in North Vietnam.

Again, in 1990, MH-53s led the way for Army AH-64 Apaches during an airstrike, which opened the air war in Operation Desert Storm. And since March 2003, the MH-53 has played a crucial part in special operations missions supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 20th ESOS MH-53 helicopters and their crews have provided much of the vertical lift, direct action and logistical resupply to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Iraq.

According to Air Force Special Operations Command officials, the MH-53 costs too much to maintain, fly and keep in the fight because of its age. Although its flying safety record is good, it has reached the end of its service life.

“It is a bittersweet ending,” said Tech Sgt. Corey Fossbender, a 20th ESOS MH-53 aerial gunner and a crewmember on the lead helicopter during the final mission. “These birds have been around for so long. Our maintenance (teams) have basically been magicians keeping them in the air.”

Sergeant Fossbender, who has spent 13 of his 16-year career in the MH-53 community, said he will miss the camaraderie the helicopter crews shared the most.

“It wasn’t just a job, it was a brotherhood,” he said. “A legacy is going away. With all the history they have been apart of, it’s sad to see them go.”

The six-man MH-53 crew consists of two pilots, two flight engineers and two aerial gunners.

“Most of the MH-53 crewmembers will head to AFSOC’s new weapons systems like the CV-22 (Osprey), AC-130 (Gunship) … and (MQ-1) Predators,” Colonel Becker said. “Some will head over to Air Combat Command and fly the HH-60G (Pave Hawk), and a few will retire.”

Senior Master Sgt. Mark Pryor, the 20th ESOS superintendent, will retire after more than 28 years; half of which he served as a flight engineer on the PMH-53.

“I don’t think it has had an opportunity to sink in,” Sergeant Pryor said. “When I grabbed those throttles and pulled them off for the last time and realized this is the last time I will fly on the Pave Low and work with this group of guys, it was bittersweet. The MH-53s are retiring, and then I retire. It’s a perfect ending to a wonderful career.”

From Iraq, some of the MH-53s will become relics of the past when they become displays in Air Force museums. Others will go to the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

“As the Pave Low goes on to retire from combat today. She goes out, as she came in — the very best,” Colonel Becker said.

Andrea Thacker (AFNS)

October 9, 2008 at 2:33 am

Defense contributions help NASA’s 50-year legacy

As the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration celebrate its 50th anniversary this week, Defense Department personnel also can take a bow for the key role they have played in lending technology and expertise to NASA’s space exploration and research mission.

NASA began operations on Oct. 1, 1958, just a few days short of the one-year anniversary of the Soviet Union’s successful Sputnik I launch. Concerned about the race for technological superiority in space, U.S. officials debated long and hard over whether the space program should be placed under military or civilian control, historical documents show.

Ultimately, NASA was established as a new civilian agency that borrowed heavily from the Defense Department and other government organizations as it built its own capabilities.

One doesn’t have to look hard to see the deep connection between NASA and DOD, beginning with the astronaut program. In fact, President Dwight D. Eisenhower almost assured that connection when he decreed that all astronaut candidates be test pilots with college degrees.

All seven original astronauts — known as “The Mercury 7” because they were chosen for Project Mercury, the nation’s first manned space flight program — came from the military. Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra and Scott Carpenter were Navy aviators; Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Gordon Cooper and Donald “Deke” Slayton were Air Force pilots; and John Glenn flew in the Marine Corps.

The long list of military members who became “firsts” at NASA didn’t stop there. John Glenn, who flew 59 combat missions during World War II and another 63 during the Korean War before joining the Naval Air Test Center, made history at NASA as the first American to orbit Earth on Feb. 20, 1962.

Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, got his initial flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., in 1949 and 1950, then went on to fly 78 missions over Korea during the Korean War. His words as he stepped from the Apollo 11 lunar module on July 20, 1969 — “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — are an indelible mark in NASA’s history.

Neil Armstrong’s fellow Apollo 11 crewmembers had deep military roots, too. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1951, before serving as an Air Force fighter pilot during the Korean War.

Michael Collins, who orbited the moon as Armstrong and Aldrin walked on its surface, also got his commission at West Point before joining the Air Force and receiving flight training at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

Thirty years later, Eileen Collins — no relation to the Apollo 11 astronaut — made NASA history in 1999 aboard the Columbia as the first woman to command a space shuttle. An Air Force colonel, she graduated from Air Force undergraduate pilot training in 1979. She was attending Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., when NASA selected her for its astronaut program.

Military members have participated in NASA’s great triumphs as well as its deep tragedies, including the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters.

Four servicemembers were among the seven Challenger crewmembers killed when a fuel tank exploded 73 seconds after launch on Jan. 28, 1986. Michael J. Smith, the pilot, was a Navy captain; Francis Richard “Dick” Scobee and Ellison Onizuka were Air Force lieutenant colonels; and Gregory Jarvis was an Air Force captain.

Again, five U.S. military officers, as well as an Israeli officer, died when Columbia disintegrated over Texas as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003. That incident killed Navy Cmdr. William C. McCool, the pilot; Air Force Col. Rick D. Husband; Air Force Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson; Navy Capt. David M. Brown and Navy Capt. Laurel Clark. Israeli Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon and Kalpana Chawla, the only civilian on the mission, also died.

But the connection between the military and NASA goes far beyond the astronaut program.

From its inception, NASA officials looked to the Defense Department and other interagency, academic, industry and international partners to build the agency’s capability, Roger D. Launius, curator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, noted in an article written for NASA’s 50th anniversary magazine.

The military had been looking to space and the development of rocket technology and expertise since the closing days of World War II, Air Force Space Command officials noted. NASA officials were anxious to tap into this expertise, and quickly absorbed several ongoing military efforts into its organization. These included the space science group of the Naval Research Laboratory in Maryland that would form the core of the new Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA officials also incorporated the Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed for the Army by specialists at the California Institute of Technology, and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Ala., where Wernher von Baun’s engineering team was developing large rockets.

Shortly after its formal organization, NASA specialists took over management of space exploration projects from other federal agencies, including the Air Force.

“These activities relied fully on the expertise and resources of the U.S. Air Force in seeing them to fruition,” Launius wrote.

One of NASA’s earliest borrowings from the military came in the form of launch vehicles originally developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

“Most of the launchers used by NASA during its formative years originated as military ballistic missiles,” Launius wrote. “It was, and remains, the fundamental technology necessary for civil space exploration, and it came largely from the military.”

Meanwhile, officials at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, another organization Eisenhower created in response to the Sputnik launch, have provided critical expertise that has benefited NASA throughout its 50-year history.

Defense Department officials stood up DARPA to find and quickly develop advanced technology for the military so the United States would never again suffer a technological surprise by another nation.

Initially, DARPA scientists and engineers concentrated on the first surveillance satellites that ensured U.S. presidents had accurate intelligence information on Russian missile program activities, historical records show. But DARPA experts advanced other space projects as well, developing the Saturn V rocket that ultimately enabled the United States to launch the Apollo missions to the moon.

As they observe its 50th anniversary, NASA personnel can look back on its many accomplishments that have brought mankind a better understanding of the solar system and universe. As they advanced this research, NASA scientists and engineers, like those in the military services and DARPA, have pushed the technological envelope in everything from weather forecasting to navigation to global communications.

Speaking at the recent NASA 50th anniversary gala, Neil Armstrong looked back on the agency’s history and its future.

“The goal is far more than just going faster, higher and further,” he said. “Our goal, indeed our responsibility, is to develop new options for future generations, options for expanding human knowledge, exploration, human settlement and resource development in the universe around us.”


October 9, 2008 at 2:25 am

100th Anniversary of the Great White Fleet Commemorated in New York

Naval Calendar 2009

Naval Calendar 2009

Our Naval Calendar 2009 features 13 images of US Navy and allied naval forces in action. Buy the Naval Calendar 2009 exclusively at the PatriArt Gallery for only $ 19.99. Worldwide delivery available.

The U.S. Navy commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet in New York Oct. 7 at Grand Central Terminal with the opening of an exhibit that will run through the 2008 Columbus Celebration ending Oct. 17.

The exhibit – which includes eight-foot models of battleships, artifacts, memorabilia from Sailors aboard the ships and photo displays that tell the story of an American naval mission – highlights aid provided by ships of the Great White Fleet to Italy in 1908 following a devastating earthquake.

“This is a great opportunity not only to recognize the accomplishments of the Great White Fleet but to also highlight our continuing Navy and Marine Corps mission to help keep international waterways safe and to reach out to those in need,” said Rear Adm. Terence McKnight, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2.

In 1907, then-President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships with the hulls painted white to circumnavigate the globe on a goodwill mission and display of American naval power. The ships were later known as the Great White Fleet.

When a devastating earthquake followed by a tidal wave hit Sicily and Southern Italy in late 1908, leaving an estimated 200,000 dead, ships from the fleet rushed to provide essential humanitarian aid and services.

The exhibit demonstrates the clear parallels between the Great White Fleet, sent on its deployment by Roosevelt, and today’s Maritime Strategy emphasizing increased global partnerships to promote peace and prosperity worldwide.

“Just as four ships from the Great White Fleet provided humanitarian assistance following an earthquake in Sicily [one] hundred years ago, our amphibious ships continue that important mission today,” said McKnight.

“USS Nassau (LHA 4)returned recently from relief efforts following Hurricane Ike, and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) spent a great deal of time rendering aid to Haiti following tropical storms and hurricanes that affected that nation.”

“I have the great honor and privilege to inaugurate this very special exhibit in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of one of the world’s worst natural disasters and the humanitarian assistance rendered by the Great White Fleet of the United State Navy,” said Richard Greco, former assistant secretary of the Navy. “Together the Department of the Navy and the Columbus Citizens Foundation, along with many corporate and governmental sponsors, have all co-sponsored this exhibit because we believe it is a story that needs to be told.

“This is a story that cannot be forgotten, a story of unspeakable loss of life and misery but a story of great charity and love by one nation to another nation in a time of need.”

The 2008 Columbus Celebration in New York will feature the U.S. Navy while remembering the Great White Fleet and the aid provided to Italy. It is the largest celebration of Italian and Italian-American culture in the world. The Columbus Celebration is organized by the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which raises scholarship funds for students of Italian descent.

“The significance of the rescue efforts in Italy is important because it shows the close relationship between the United States and Italy which continues today,” said Lawrence Auriana, chairman of the board of governors of the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

Noreen Kirk, from Connecticut, and her 2-year-old son stopped by the exhibit at Grand Central Terminal.

“I didn’t know about the Great White Fleet, but this is very informative,” said Kirk.

“We had been here a few days ago and saw the announcement that this exhibit would be opening,” said Debbie Friedman, a native of Manhattan visiting the exhibit with her husband. “This is very impressive, and it describes a part of history that is not very well recognized today.”

The amphibious assault ship Nassau will visit New York for the Columbus Celebration with Sailors participating in the New York City Columbus Day parade. The ship will be open for public visitation Oct. 13.

The Italian submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro (S 526) will also be in port alongside Nassau as a sign of the enduring partnership between the United States and Italy. Though she will not be open for public tours, Todaro can be viewed from the pier during Nassau’s public visitation.”


Lesley Lykins (NNS)

October 9, 2008 at 2:17 am Leave a comment