Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember Pearl Harbor

Remembering Pearl Harbor

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941 the mettle and determination of a generation were challenged when the Imperial Japanese Navy unleashed a sneak attack on the U.S. Navy fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor.

In the face of these attacks the Sailors of the U.S. Navy responded with honor, courage and undying commitment.

Heroic actions were embodied by common men who, when suddenly faced with the challenge of battle, responded with the resolve and character that defined the Navy and nation.

The personal stories and accounts listed here provide a chance to reflect upon, ponder and understand what a rich heritage Sailors today share with veteran shipmates.

These accounts come from Sailors associated with six of the many commands and ships affected that fateful day.

In addition, they resonate the faithfulness, valor and ethos of that day and what it means to be a Sailor in the United States Navy.

Sailors today are part of this long blue line who have provided protection and security to the nation and the world.

Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941 -- Overview

DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.

Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. The Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued. In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.

By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan's diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.

The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8AM on 7 December. Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and over 2400 Americans were dead. Soon after, Japanese planes eliminated much of the American air force in the Philippines, and a Japanese Army was ashore in Malaya.

These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously divided American people into a level of purposeful unity hardly seen before or since. For the next five months, until the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, Japan's far-reaching offensives proceeded untroubled by fruitful opposition. American and Allied morale suffered accordingly. Under normal political circumstances, an accomodation might have been considered.

However, the memory of the "sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on. Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan's striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse her conquests and remove her, and her German and Italian allies, as future threats to World peace.

This page features a historical overview and special image selection on the Pearl Harbor raid, chosen from the more comprehensive coverage featured in the following pages, and those linked from them:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Policial State

The dream of some American politicians became true in Brazil.

Today, 08.21.08, the Brazilian government decided to unifies the data base from Brazilian Information Agency (used basically to spy Brazilians citizens), Military Intelligence agencies (used almost for the same reasons, but in the Military), Central Bank data base, IRS, Brazilian Federal Police Intel. Agency, Assents Recuperation and Juridical International Cooperation Department, Financial Actives Control Agency (control every financial trasation over US$ 5,000.00); all under the control of Brazilian Information Agency.

Since 2002 there isn´t anymore in Brazil any kind of banking privacy, in the same way, if you are called to splain our privacy life you are gilt until you are able to prove your innocence.

And the Brazilian Court granted already more than 10,000 permition of wiretapping in the last 5 years, some of then without any previous proves, just "fishing". Last week the Brazilian Supreme Court decides that the Federal Police must be have more caution in the use of ...algemas... , and the Federal Police replies that is a no can do situation, opening a crise with even one Supreme threatening to beat other one, all without any cover from the press, witch is more interest in the Olympic Games.

So technically I do believe we are already living in a Policial State. 8/21/08

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The continuing war at home

By ANDREW COUGHLAN

ON JULY 19, 2004, I didn’t die.

I can talk now about what happened that day, but it’s enough to know that I lost friends in a mortar attack in Baghdad. Pfc. Charles Persing, who had pushed me away and took the brunt of the blast, and Sgt. Dale Lloyd, my team leader who had run to help, both died that day. Two other friends, Sgt. Mike Ramirez and Spc. James O’Leary, and my team leader, Staff Sgt. Keith Adams, were injured.

Physically, I was unhurt, but I was living with the loss of my friends, recurring nightmares of the events of the day, and an overwhelming guilt for being alive. I’m not even really sure you could call it living. I felt worthless; although I was newly married with a daughter, I thought about suicide.

I didn’t know what to call it then, but I was suffering from survivor guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. The only people I could listen to were those who had been there with me. Hearing from them that they cared for me and that I could be proud of myself and my service meant so much more somehow than hearing it from my family, who love you in spite of a turmoil they don’t understand.

I had to get better not only to care for my family but to honor the friends we had lost by living a full life.

I underwent treatment at the VA, which involved group therapy sessions and meeting with counselors. But the thing that broke through more than any session was talking one-on-one with veterans of the Vietnam War. Those guys put me on a personal mission. “Don’t let your generation become like ours,” they told me. “Make your buddies aware, make the public aware.”

I could tell them things — one guy in particular. With all the doctors and social workers and other vets there, this big, tough Vietnam vet chose me to share a story that, although half a world and four decades apart, was a lot like mine. As he helped me, I was helping him, too.

This offered me a starting point. I didn’t have to open up completely then, but I could start, little by little, to unload the weight of my emotions and experiences.

If this set me on an upward slope, I reached a peak at a combat-stress retreat run through the Wounded Warrior Project. I didn’t say as much as I could have, and I can’t really explain what that week meant to me. I learned to look at things a different way and to process my feelings differently.

I won’t say that I was cured that week. There is no cure for post-traumatic stress or survivor guilt, just as there is no way to bring Lloyd or Persing back.

But I have fewer, less-intense nightmares. When I have a flashback, I know how to ground myself back into my surrounding reality. I have learned to control my symptoms rather than letting them control me.

A lot of combat veterans believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I will admit that I once felt the same, but reaching out saved my life. The help doesn’t need to come from a doctor. It can be another vet, or just someone you can trust. It can be hard to talk. But just take one thing out at a time, something small. You don’t have to dump it all out; just lighten your load, bit by bit, and you’ll get there.

PTSD is a wound. Like any other wound, it will fester and spread if you don’t treat it. Just like you would with a wound to your arm or leg, you treat it, you stop the infection. It may not work quite as it did before, and you may have a scar, but you will start to heal and find strength and ability to do things you didn’t before.

I am pursuing my education now through the TRACK program, working out and loving my wife and daughter. I won’t waste the life that was spared on July 19, 2004, and I will honor the friends I lost by living a better life.

Andrew Coughlan, a Michigan resident, served in the war in Iraq. He is participating in the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project’s TRACK program, which provides education and transition service to wounded vets in Jacksonville, Fla.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Afghan Troop Levels


NATO is approaching 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 45,000 hailing from countries other than the U.S., which is a positive sign according to Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.

Pakistan Relief Operation


U.S. commanders in Pakistan say, although the flood waters there are beginning to recede, the need for humanitarian aid is mounting.

Challenge.gov


The Department of Defense is looking for bright stars with brilliant ideas.

SSG Salvatore Giunta


Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

Veteran Care


Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy John Campbell says America has greatly improved its care of military veterans.

Afghan Air Force


The Afghan Air Force is flying refurbished helicopters to help fight the insurgency.

9/11 Wreath Laying


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs ADM Mike Mullen says America still honors those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Gates 9/11 Ceremony


Defense Secretary Robert Gates paid tribute to America's servicemembers during a ceremony Saturday honoring those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hurricane Earl Preps

Hurricane Earl is gaining strength as it makes its way toward the East Coast.

Newman's Own Awards

This year's Newman's Own Awards for innovation and ingenuity have been announced. The awards support veterans, wounded warriors and caregivers.

Iraq Drawdown

As the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq continues, the focus is turning to what is needed to sustain troops.

Petraeus on Afghan Gov


General David Petraeus highlights the accomplishments of the Afghan government in eliminating corruption.

Typhoon Kompasu


U.S. forces in Korea are recovering from a powerful typhoon that slammed the Korean Peninsula Thursday with strong winds and heavy rains.

CO Guard Pot Airlift


The Colorado National Guard is assisting local authorities in airlifting thousands of marijuana plants found at two illegal grow sites.

MOVE Act


Defense officials announced only 5 of 10 states that applied for waivers to the MOVE Act have been approved to extend deadlines for accepting absentee ballots past election day.

Hurricane Earl Latest


The Coast Guard and National Guard continue to prepare for Hurricane Earl which returned to Category 4 strength Thursday with winds over 130 miles per hour.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today´s Top News 01 September 2010


Former U.S. Forces-Iraq commander, General Ray Odierno praises Iraqi Security Forces and Defense Secretary Robert Gates thanks troops for their service in Iraq.

Operation New Dawn II


With the U.S. combat role in Iraq at an end, U.S. military officials on Wednesday launched Operation New Dawn.

Monte Cassino CPO Air Date Sep 1, 2010

DNU Flash - Chief petty officer selectees at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, get a lesson in naval history and heritage.

Flu Readiness


DNU Flash - All Sailors are required to get the new influenza vaccine.

Hurricane Earl Preps


The threat of Hurricane Earl is putting servicemembers along the East Coast on alert.

BO Irvine Safety Stand Down


DNU Flash - Comedian Bo Irvine conducts a safety standdown at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

Headlines for September 1, 2010


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: President Barack Obama announces the official end of combat operations in Iraq; the Navy Reserve offers career options for Sailors who want to leave active duty but not the Navy.

26th MEU Goes to Pakistan


The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is deploying aboard the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group to join the flood relief efforts in Pakistan one month early.

GEN Austin Takes Over


GEN Lloyd Austin officially assumed command of U.S. Forces-Iraq Wednesday during a change of command ceremony in Baghdad.

GEN Odierno speaks at CoC


As General Ray Odierno stepped down as commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq, he reflected on the accomplishments during his time in Iraq .

Operation New Dawn


A change of command ceremony in Baghdad Wednesday marked the beginning of Operation New Dawn.

Obama on Afghanistan


President Obama says with combat operations at an end in Iraq, U.S. forces can now focus on Afghanistan.

Obama Speech


In a speech to the nation from the White House Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced the official end to the combat mission in Iraq and thanked U.S. troops for their service.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today´s Top News 31 August 2010


President Obama thanks troops at Fort Bliss for their service in Iraq and says the task there is not done yet. Also, Defense Secretary Gates speaks to the American Legion Conference.

Obama at Ft Bliss


On the day before U.S. combat operations officially end in Iraq, Commander in Chief Barack Obama traveled to Fort Bliss, Texas, to meet with troops.

UFC Clinic

DNU Flash - Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters visit Sailors at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.

Labor Day Safety

DNU Flash - Navy reminds Sailors keep safety in mind for Labor Day weekend.

Gates on Afghanistan


Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks to an American Legion audience about the full return of resources to Afghanistan.

Child Care Fees


DNU Flash - Department of Defense announces a minor increase to child care fees.

Headlines for August 31, 2010

DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Commander, Naval Installations Command stresses hurricane preparedness; Sailors participate in Pacific Reach 2010; USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Sailors participate in the Give a Kid a Backpack program.

Gates at American Legion

Defense Secretary Robert Gates honored America's servicemembers who were killed or wounded in the mission to bring democracy to Iraq.

Afghanistan Operations


NATO reports 12 members of its International Security Assistance Force have been killed in Afghanistan in the last four days.

Iraq Withdrawal Response


Even though many troops have returned from Iraq, there are still about 50,000 on the ground, talking about the mission still ahead.

Hurricane Earl Preps


As powerful Hurricane Earl barrels toward the East Coast of the U.S., the Coast Guard is getting ready.

Petraeus on NATO TV


GEN David Petraeus talks about mission success in Afghanistan being vital to preventing trans-national extremism.

Military Dogs for IEDs

Marines turn to bomb-sniffing dogs to find improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.

CA Guard to the Border


Hundreds of National Guard troops are now positioned along the San Diego sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today´s Top News 30 August 2010


The Arizona National Guard deploys to the border with Mexico, and the Puerto Rico National Guard prepares for Hurricane Earl.

Iraq Drawdown


As U.S. troops leave Iraq, the equipment that has sustained and protected them is being moved out as well.

USS Keasarge Deploys


DNU Flash - USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) deploys to Pakistan to support disaster relief efforts.

Okinawa BSA Hike


DNU Flash - Boy Scouts and Marines in Okinawa, Japan, embark on a 100-mile hike to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.

National Guard on Border


The first of 532 National Guard troops are set to begin their mission in the southern Arizona desert on Monday under President Obama's plan to beef up U.S.-Mexico border security.

Naval Beach Group 2


DNU Flash - Naval Beach Group 2 at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., performs an operational training demo of their beach landing capabilities.

Headlines for August 30, 2010


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Navy Week kicks off in Baltimore; The Vaccine Information and Logistics System (VIALS) can now process seasonal flu vaccine requests.

Salmonella Warning


While the eggs tainted with salmonella that recently sickened hundreds of people have been recalled, military health officials say its important to be careful about what we eat.

Voters Call Center


The countdown for the 2010 election has begun, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program Center answers voters questions 24/7.

Hurricane Earl Preps


The Puerto Rico Air National Guard is preparing to evacuate five of its six C-130 aircraft as Hurricane Earl moves closer to the island.

President Obama on Iraq


President Obama says more than 90,000 troops have come home and hundreds of Iraqi bases have been closed or turned over to Iraq since he took office.

Pakistan Flood Relief


The military is deploying 18 additional helicopters to Pakistan as part of the expanding U.S. flood relief effort.

Leave Carryover Extended


Annual leave carryover for servicemembers has been extended from 60 days to 75 days until 2013. After that leave carryover eligibility will be reset to 60 days.

Jobs for Vets


President Barack Obama is urging U.S. communities and businesses across the nation to support veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today´s Top News 27 August 2010

The Kearsarge Amphibious Group leaves for Pakistan to support flood relief efforts and U.S. military officials say there has been progress training Afghan security forces.

Saluting Service In Iraq


President Obama will mark the end of combat missions in Iraq August 31 when he will travel to Fort Bliss, TX, then later, address the nation from the Oval Office.

Bahrain CPO Select Uniforms


DNU Flash - Chief petty officer selectees at Naval Support Activity Bahrain try on their new khaki uniforms for the first time.

San Diego Chargers Fleet Night


DNU Flash - San Diego Chargers host military appreciation night.

Remembering Katrina

The man who was in charge of Joint Task Force Katrina says that experience was the most difficult time in his 37-year military career.

DEFY Kids Camp

DNU Flash - Kids in Okinawa, Japan, take part in Drug Education for Youth day camp.

Headlines for August 27, 2010


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: The Navy reminds Sailors not to drink and drive during Labor Day weekend; The Navy releases NAVADMIN 286/10 revising promotion rules for 2nd class petty officers; Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus pledges the Navy's hand in helping clean up the Chesapeake Bay; Chief of Naval Operations Heritage Committee honors the 90th anniversary of women gaining full voting rights; Kearsarge Expeditionary Group departs Norfolk to assist with flood relief in Pakistan.

Dengue Fever


Navy and Army scientists say they are the closest they've ever been to a vaccine that will protect troops from dengue fever.

Travels with Mullen

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen was in Cleveland Friday, the final stop in his three-day trip to the Midwest.

New Orleans Levees


The Army Corps of Engineers says the city of New Orleans is far better off now, when it comes to storm protection, than at any time in its history.

Training Afghans


As Afghan security forces begin to take more of a lead role for their country's security, they must assume positions previously held by U.S. and NATO troops.

Veteran Remains Returned


Family and friends were on hand for the return of 1st Lieutenant Paul Magers whose remains were found in Vietnam 39 years after he went missing in action.

ANP Training


The commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, LTG William Caldwell, says Afghan security forces are on pace to meet their goal of 305,000 troops.

Flournoy on MIAs


Defense officials say the remains of 5400 missing Americans may still be in North Korea, with another 900 in the demilitarized zone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today´s Top News 26 August 2010


The Commander in Chief travels to Ft. Bliss, Texas, next week to meet with troops, and the U.S. commander in Iraq says he believes the latest violence is being caused by al-Qaida.

Remembering Katrina


Sunday marks the five-year commemoration of one of the worst natural disasters on U.S. soil, Hurricane Katrina.

Strongman Competition


DNU Flash - Sailors in Yokota, Japan, participate in a strongman contest.

Iwakuni Culture Tour

DNU Flash - Sailors in Iwakuni, Japan, participate in a tour of the Kintai Bridge.

Training Afghan Troops


General David Petraeus says he is impressed with the newest special unit in Afghanistan, as well as the Afghans who are training them.

Chesapeake Bay Conference


DNU Flash - Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus discusses restoration projects for the Chesapeake Bay.

Headlines for August 26, 2010


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: The Boston Red Sox host a Military Appreciation Day; Naval Education and Training Command releases a Civil Engineer Corps Electronic Toolbox DVD; Department of the Navy releases a NAVADMIN increasing leave carry over for Sailors assigned to imminent danger areas.

DODEA Back to School


Hundreds of military students heading back to school this year will find they'll be held to a higher standard, as will their teachers and administrators.

Travels with Mullen


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen is in Detroit Thursday speaking to community and business leaders about helping returning veterans integrate back into the workforce.

New Marine Vehicle


Marines at Camp Pendleton, CA, field-tested a new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Wednesday.

Lanza on Iraqi Attacks


U.S. Forces-Iraq spokesman, Major General Stephen Lanza, speaks to the press regarding the attacks following the recent U.S. force reduction in Iraq.

Pakistan Flood Relief


Plans are underway to bring in additional U.S. helicopters early next month to help with the military's flood relief mission in Pakistan.

Afghan Weapons Demo


The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, GEN David Petraeus, was on hand for a security force and weapons demonstration this week.

Odierno on Iraq


General Ray Odierno says he's fairly certain the latest series of attacks across Iraq is the work of al-Qaida.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Family Preparedness

Today´s Top News 25 August 2010


Brigadier General Michael Nagata gives Pentagon reporters an update on the U.S. military's flood relief mission in Pakistan.

Lynn on Cyber Security


Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn is shedding some light on what the Pentagon calls the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever.

UFC MMA


DNU Flash - Sailors at Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan, meet Ultimate Fighting Champions mixed martial artists.

Safe Harbor


DNU Flash - The Safe Harbor program coordinates care for wounded, injured and ill service members and their families.

Aid in Pakistan


The focus of U.S. military humanitarian aid to Pakistan is to save lives, and to provide humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the floods.

Father and Daughter Dance


DNU Flash - Sailors at Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan, participate in a father daughter dance.

Headlines for August 25, 2010


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group provides support for Pakistan; Nominations for Black Engineer of the Year Professional and Career awards are being accepted until Sept. 17.

Fitness Challenge

The Department of Defense is issuing a fitness challenge to all civilian personnel.

Afghan Shootings


NATO ISAF officials say they have no motive for Wednesday's shooting deaths of two Spanish servicemembers and their interpreter by a member of the Afghan police.

Electronic Cigarettes


Electronic cigarettes are devices that look like cigarettes and deliver nicotine but the Air Force Surgeon General is alerting all Airmen about safety concerns.

Afghanistan in July 2011


The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan says we're not "heading for the exits" in July 2011, but beginning to transition security tasks to Afghan forces.

Security Certification


Approximately 30,000 individuals work as security personnel within the Department of Defense.

Petraeus on Afghanistan


Intelligence reports are showing pockets of low morale among enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NASA Morphing Aircraft - No Sound

Today´s Top News 24 August 2010


U.S. troops continue evacuating victims of the floods in Pakistan and delivering relief supplies.

Insurgent Attacks


U.S. military officials say insurgents continue to attack Afghan and Coalition forces, as well as civilians.

Sasebo Avenger Excercise


DNU Flash - Sailors aboard USS Avenger (MCM 1) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) conduct a leap frog exercise.

Truman Talent Show


DNU Flash - Sailors aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) participate in a talent show.

Marines in Pakistan


Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen James Conway says Marines with the 15th MEU have evacuated more than 3,000 flood victims from Pakistan.

Sasebo LDO Program

DNU Flash - Sailors learn about applying for Limited Duty Officer program.

Headlines for August 24, 2010


DNU Flash - Headlines from around the fleet: U.S. forces provide anti-submarine training to South Korean forces; Navy Personnel Command announces a new hyperlink on their web page; Sailors on board USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) earn their warfare pins.

Former Marine Guilty


A former Marine has been found guilty of murdering a pregnant Marine that had accused him of rape. Cesar Laurean was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Drug Bust South of FL


The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a boat off the Honduran coast loaded with 88 packages of cocaine with a street value of about 80 million dollars.

Gen Conway Briefing


Defense officials say Marines deployed to Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan should not expect to turn over security responsibilities to the Afghans in 2011.

Kearsarge Deployment


Ships with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group will deploy to Pakistan earlier than planned as the flooding there worsens.

Threats to Afghan Forces


Military officials say desertions, deaths, and low retention are the greatest threats to the quality of the Afghan national security force.

Iraq Drawdown


U.S. troop levels in Iraq dropped below 50,000 Tuesday as forces there prepared for a transition to Operation New Dawn on September 1.

Today´s Events in History

Event

Monday, August 23, 2010

Submariners Give Rare Glimpse Into 'Silent Service'


ABOARD THE USS RHODE ISLAND, Aug. 23, 2010 - On a recent sun-soaked morning hundreds of miles off Florida's Atlantic coast, this Trident ballistic missile submarine surfaced for an unusual operation.

About a dozen journalists, many representing the military, watched from a contracted 250-foot support vessel as the sleek, black back of the submarine ascended above gentle waters in the open ocean and maneuvered alongside the boat. With just a few feet separating the two vessels and a Coast Guard cutter on watch, the support boat's crew extended a catwalk bridge from its deck over to the Rhode Island.

A pod of dolphins played in the wake below as the journalists hobbled quickly over to the submarine. "Keep moving! Keep moving!" a submariner shouted, as a slowdown easily could lead to a foot or leg getting caught and injured, or causing a "man overboard" situation.

After exchanging quick greetings with the attending crew, the journalists climbed in turn through the hatch and down the steep, narrow ladder into the belly of the sub.

The Aug. 16 media visit offered a rare glimpse into what is known as "the silent service," the community of Navy submariners who man and control the vessels that carry weapons under the sea. Journalists were invited to embed on the Trident after a military-commissioned survey showed that Americans know less about the Navy than the other services, and even less about submarines and those who serve on them, Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, public affairs officer for Submarine Group 10 at King's Bay Naval Base, Ga., said.

The visit also coincided with increasing media attention on the submarine community following two major changes in Navy policy earlier this year: lifting the ban on women serving on submarines, and ending smoking on subs. The Navy chose 21 women early this summer to begin the 15-month training to serve on subs beginning in the fall of 2011. The smoking ban takes effect Jan. 1.

The Nuclear Triad

The Rhode Island is an Ohio-class submarine, the largest model in the U.S. fleet. At about 560 feet long and 42 feet in diameter, Ohio-class submarines hold 24 Trident ballistic missile tubes and four torpedo tubes. The Navy's fleet of 14 SSBNs is based at King's Bay and at Bangor, Wash.

The Trident subs, known as "boomers," are powered by a single-shaft nuclear reactor. They can carry more than 16 tons, travel more than 20 knots -- more than 23 miles per hour -- and submerge more than 800 feet, according to Navy officials who keep their exact capabilities secret.

Part of the nuclear deterrent triad along with land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and Air Force bombers, the Tridents' sole mission is to deter a nuclear attack through its ultimate strike capabilities. A command from the president, passed through U.S. Strategic Command and ultimately to the ship's captain, allows the crew to fire a long-range ballistic missile in a matter of minutes.

The Trident is a three-stage missile powered by solid rocket motors. It's about 44 feet long and 7 feet in diameter, and weighs about 120,000 pounds, according to information provided by public affairs officials. Each has a range of more than 4,000 miles.

Touring the Boomer

The boomer's design of massive missile tubes occupying the bulk of the midsection and extending vertically through four levels is the focal point of the vessel and a reminder of the singular mission of deterrence. The space between the tanks makes up the hallways. Small rooms, such as the nine-person enlisted berthing cabins -- three sets of bunks with three beds each -- and a couple of bathrooms, known as "heads," are tucked in between.

The galley and crew's mess are nearby on the same level and they present a nearly constant hub of activity. The Navy is known for providing good meals, and if the Rhode Island is an indication, submarines are among the best. The boat's head chef, Petty Officer 1st Class Daniell Pinero, a former chef for the secretary of defense, and his crew provide three hot meals each day as well as late-evening snacks.

Stocking the galley for a three-month tour is no small undertaking. A lengthy shopping list includes, for example, 530 pounds of coffee, 22,140 eggs, 800 pounds of butter, 504 bags of microwave popcorn and 21,000 biodegradable weights to sink trash in the ocean. Because all food must be purchased and stored before the start of the tours, fresh produce is a scarce commodity enjoyed in the early days of each patrol. Still, there are few complaints. Pizza, spaghetti, turkey and dressing, ham and sweet potatoes, rolls, cakes and pies -– all homemade -– were provided during the media visit.

"I gain 10 pounds every time we go out," Cmdr. Robert J. Clark, commanding officer and captain for one of the Rhode Island's two rotating crews, said.

Exercise equipment is placed sporadically around the ship – cardio machines and free weights – wherever there is a little spare room. But as Clark and others noted, any weight gained on board is lost during shore duty.

A Tight-knit Community

Clark is the commanding officer and captain of the Rhode Island's blue crew, which carried the media representatives during their visit. His executive officer, or second in command, is Lt. Cmdr. Paul Pampuro.

Each Trident sub includes two crews of 15 officers and about 140 enlisted men, known as the blue and gold crews, each with its own commanding officer. Each crew rotates onto submarine duty about every 112 days, while the other crew stays at base for training and preparation for the next time at sea.

A snapshot of the crew is one that is young, smart, and committed to the mission and fellow crewmembers. The average age is 23, and many have engineering, math or science degrees.

Ask submariners what they enjoy most about their work and the answer usually is the camaraderie of a tight-knit community, the highly specialized work, and the importance of the mission.

Lt. Colin Myers is a Naval Academy graduate who serves as the sub's main propulsion assistant, assistant security manager, intelligence officer and ship self-assessment coordinator. He said he enjoys the Rhode Island because of the quality of the crew.

"These are a lot of really smart guys," Myers said. "Some are double majors. It's a volunteer force, so they really want to be here." He added that because the submarine force is small, there are many opportunities and officers advance quickly; some obtain command by their mid-30s.

Serving on a submarine -– mostly submerged for three months with only periscopes to see out -- also can be stressful, tedious and boring, submariners say. The days are long, sleep is minimal, and submariners are surprisingly disconnected. E-mail is sporadic, only coming through every couple of days when an antenna is connected to the sail -- a submarine's exterior tower-like structure -- and attachments are not allowed. There are no phone calls; no text messages. Still, some say they don't mind being disconnected.

"You either love it or hate it," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Calvin Hurt, the torpedo room supervisor.

Reality in Mission Control

Around 9 p.m., some off-duty crew members gather in the mess to wind down with a movie. The chef has made pizza and Buffalo wings, and someone pops in the 1990 movie, "The Hunt for Red October."

"This is a comedy!" a long-time submariner proclaimed as the crew laughed at the creative license Hollywood took in producing the action-packed drama of a Trident submarine executive officer, played by Denzel Washington, who leads a mutiny after the captain, played by Gene Hackman, decides to launch a ballistic missile at a perceived Soviet threat.

In the real world of Trident subs, protocol and procedures rule. In the control room, the sub's nerve center, each area is manned in six-hour shifts with full attention on the equipment. The mission is to keep the boomer undetected, while detecting everything else around it.

In the front of the room, three enlisted men watch location and conditions on monitors while two of them do their part to "drive" the sub with long-handled steering wheels. Behind them, two others man multiple screens that track sonar and acoustics, analyzing sounds from as far away as 75,000 yards. Behind them, an officer always is watching through the periscope, and those images are provided on computer screens. Coordinates are constantly being called out above the sound of the equipment, and the standard response "very well" acknowledges receipt of the information.

Many of the screens are marked "Secret," and all of the crew has security clearances. While each has his own job specialty, all are cross-trained and expected to be able to do multiple jobs, Rolinger said. "Everyone is an expert at damage control," he said, noting the crew practices multiple drills -– from firing torpedoes to putting out fires –- several times per week.

During a missile release test, Clark stands in the center of the control room receiving information from every possible data point, some relayed repeatedly to ensure conditions have not changed. "All missiles will be released," he announces along with the exact time so all clocks are synchronized to the exact second.

"This is the captain. This is an exercise," Clark says over the sub's speaker system.

Down the hall, two crew members man the missile control center, divided between "launcher" and "fire" controls. The U.S. ballistic missile fleet fires four test missiles each year, and has had 124 consecutive successful tests in 20 years, Cmdr. Michael Sowa, deputy chief of staff of strategic weapons for Submarine Group 10, said. The tests also serve as a deterrent, and foreign countries are notified before testing begins, he added.

"The system works well, even better than it was designed to work," Sowa said. The British, French, and Russians also test ballistic missiles, and the Chinese are developing the capabilities, he said.

"The SSBN mission is to deter," Sowa added. "So, if we must launch, we've failed our mission."

Earning Their Dolphins

A more likely scenario than the release of a Trident missile is the release of a torpedo. Back toward the front end of the sub and down the stairs next to the smoking room, two crew members man the torpedo controls, watching red and green lights for the status of torpedoes that lie horizontally on hydraulic lifts. They hold several exercises each week to practice firing torpedoes, and avoiding torpedoes from an enemy.

"Everything we do down here, we get one minute to do it in," Hurt said. A submariner for four years, he said he now loves the job that is very trying for the first two years.

Three sailors earned the title of submariner here on Aug. 16 when they were presented the coveted Dolphin pins, which come only after a new crew member proves within 10 months that he has a basic understanding of everything on the boat. Clark presented the pins during a ceremony in the crew's mess.

"The whole thing is a little overwhelming," Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Iverson, 20, of Freeport, Ill., said after receiving his pin. "With this, you know you've earned the respect of your fellow shipmates."

Petty Officer 1st Class Herwin Marcia, who has served on submarines for 13 years, still remembers the stress of being new on a submarine.

"It's a big culture shock," he said. "You have to catch up to where you can support everyone else. You have to be ready when called on. We don't have time to wait."

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