Rustic American Flag Gunny's Job Board

Category Archives: Brian Fort

Aegis Integration and Wayne E. Meyer

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

On Sept. 13, we welcomed USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) to her new homeport here at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and its crew arrive to their new homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin M. Colbert/Released)

 

USS Wayne E. Meyer is named for Rear Adm. Meyer, considered the father of Aegis, our Navy’s centralized, automated, command-and-control radar and computerized weapon control system. It’s the Navy’s universal – and integrated – computerized system aboard our guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, including USS Wayne E. Meyer.

Brought to life by Meyer and his team in the early 70s, the Aegis combat system is able to detect threats from all around our ships – as many as 250 targets at the same time. Aegis can detect enemy threats in the air nearly 300 miles away.

Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer, USN (covered)

 

Our leaders, from the chief of naval operations to the fleet and type commanders, remind us we steam today in a fast-paced, complex and frequently uncertain world. It’s a world with evolving threats and unpredictable potential adversaries. That’s one reason we can be extremely grateful for the steady and extremely capable Aegis system.

Meyer developed the system while director of surface warfare at the then-new Naval Sea Systems Command. It was just at the end of the Vietnam War but still in the heat of the Cold War, when Meyer brought together a team of top-notch engineers, his “true believers” – STEM volunteers who were willing to stake their reputations on making Aegis a reality.

Meyers integrated women on his team because he saw their skills and ability as well as their determination as members of his team.

Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) fire a Mark 38 25mm machine gun system during a live-fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams/Released)

 

He and his volunteers believed in the mission, and their hard work paid off for generations who followed.

The women and men aboard the USS Wayne E. Meyer are also volunteers – professionals who can lead, serve with integrity, rise to a challenge together and critically self-assess their performance. They are committed to continuous improvement and warfighting readiness in service to our nation.

Over the past two years DDG-108 conducted two deployments to the western Pacific, leading the fight for the Carl Vinson Strike Group. In 2017, USS Wayne E. Meyer served as air and missile defense Commander to ensure the safety of the strike group for its six-month deployment. During the 2017 deployment, DDG-108 conducted exercises and drills with key allied partners, the Republic of Korea Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), foreground, transits the East China Sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Murasame-class destroyer JS Samidare (DD 106), right, and the aircraft USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)

 

In March 2018, USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) made a historic port visit to Da Nang, Vietnam – the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier visited the country since the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. That was the same year coincidentally – 45 years ago –  that Meyer and his team installed Aegis installed aboard the first test ship, USS Norton Sound (AVM 1).

Sailors assigned to Carl Vinson Strike Group participate in stilt walking during a visit to SOS Children’s Village as part of a community service event during a port visit in Da Nang, Vietnam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel P. Jackson Norgart/Released)

 

Today, our Navy continues to develop, test and deploy innovative systems on our ships here in the Pacific, including those on the Pearl Harbor waterfront. Aegis continues to evolve as well, embracing new changes in technology. Increasingly, we are also embracing the potential and need for Aegis Ashore.

With the arrival of USS Wayne E. Meyer, named for the “father of Aegis,” to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, we see a dedicated commitment to integrating and maintaining the most technologically advanced ships in the Pacific with updated and advanced capabilities.

I join with the rest of our region/MIDPAC team in welcoming – and integrating – the Sailors and families of USS Wayne E. Meyer as the newest member in our ohana.

Editor’s note: This is the eleventh in a series of namesake blogs by Rear Adm. Brian Fort highlighting the surface ships homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/09/21/aegis-integration-wayne-e-meyer/ U.S. Navy

Forged and Ready: Chung-Hoon Legacy

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Those who adapt can overcome.

Consider the namesake of our Pearl Harbor-homeported USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), Rear Adm. Gordon Paiea Chung-Hoon.

Forged from the sea and seasoned in war, Chung-Hoon was a lieutenant assigned to USS Arizona (BB 39), Dec. 7, 1941. He was on a weekend pass that Sunday when Oahu was attacked and his ship was sunk.

In 1942, Chung-Hoon served aboard the light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL 48) and participated in some of the fiercest fighting in the war in the South Pacific, including in the Solomons.

Gordor Pai'ea Chung-Hoon
Gordor Pai’ea Chung-Hoon

 

In 1944, Chung-Hoon took command of USS Sigsbee (DD 502), a destroyer assigned with Carrier Task Force 58 off the coast of Japan.

On April 14, 1945, Sigsbee – along with seven Fletcher Class destroyers, steamed to picket stations, making them prime targets for nearly two dozen kamikaze (“divine wind”) suicide planes that attacked their ships.

One kamikaze got through Sigsbee’s fierce antiaircraft guns, missed the bridge, but smashed into the ship’s stern. The massive explosion destroyed a big section of the stern, knocked out the port engine and steering, and caused flooding in the aft third of the ship. In the midst of the chaos, Skipper Chung-Hoon’s loud voice came through, according to one witness: “Steady, gang.”

He led the crew in response to the attack, jettisoning damaged equipment and personally leading a repair crew to assess damage and seal and shore the after solid bulkhead. Twenty-two Sailors were killed that day, and 75 were wounded.

Chung-Hoon rose to the challenge in a crisis. He adapted, overcame and persevered. Rather than abandoning his damaged ship, he chose to save it and the Sailors he led. His Sailors kept up a steady rate of “prolonged and effective gunfire,” as described in his Navy Cross citation.

Today, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) continues to build on their namesake’s legacy of toughness and sustainability. In the last two years, DDG-93 won the Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence Award for afloat units, a Battle “E,” and a Green “H.”

PHILIPPINE SEA (March 29, 2016) Sailors from supply department aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) form an "E" on the flight deck to commemorate their earning of the Supply "Blue E" award. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (March 29, 2016) Sailors from supply department aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) form an “E” on the flight deck to commemorate their earning of the Supply “Blue E” award. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)

 

Sailors aboard USS Chung-Hoon are excelling in performance, and it shows in promotions. Three Sailors were picked up for officer programs in 2017, and this year one senior chief frocked to master chief, five chiefs to senior chief, and 28 petty officers frocked to their next paygrade.

Last month, Chung-Hoon completed their naval surface fire support. Undersea warfare self-assessments will soon be underway executing their final certifications.

Most importantly, Chung-Hoon Sailors are focused on the main thing, warfighting readiness. They, like our other ready Sailors on the Pearl Harbor waterfront, have a sense of urgency.

They know they can adapt and overcome.

Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon, who fought both in World War II and in the Korean War, was part of a tough generation who helped freedom triumph over fascism.

His Sailors knew him for his calm humility and mastery of his ship’s systems, committed to the essentials of seamanship.

Chung-Hoon was born July 25, 1910. He became the first American admiral in the United States Navy of Chinese and Native Hawaiian ancestry and the first of his heritage to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. After a distinguished military and civilian career of service, he died one day before his 69th birthday, July 24, 1979, and is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, “Punchbowl.”

On September 18, 2004, the Navy commissioned USS Chung-Hoon here at Pearl Harbor.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Walter F. Doran said, “This is truly a great day for the United States, for the United States Navy, for the State of Hawaii and, I know, for the Chung-Hoon family. I’m confident the officers and men of this ship will be ready for any challenge.”

Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon’s niece, Michelle Punana Chung-Hoon, a good friend of the Navy, gave the commissioning order: “Sea warriors, man our ship and bring her to life!”

World War II Medal of Honor recipient Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a leader who knew about adapting and overcoming adversity, served as keynote speaker at the commissioning.

“It is fitting that the ship that carries his name will be home-ported here in the same harbor where the Arizona memorial commemorates his fallen shipmates,” Inouye said.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2015) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) heave line during an underway replenishment. Chung-Hoon was undergoing a composite training unit exercise and joint task force exercise, the final step in certifying to deploy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2015) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) heave line during an underway replenishment. Chung-Hoon was undergoing a composite training unit exercise and joint task force exercise, the final step in certifying to deploy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marcus L. Stanley/Released)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/07/25/forged-and-ready-chung-hoon-legacy/ Jason Kelly

The Legacy of William P. Lawrence: Toughness

This is the eighth in a series of namesake blogposts by Rear Adm. Brian Fort for all surface ships homeported in Pearl Harbor.

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

On June 28, 1967, flying his F-4B Phantom, naval aviator Cmdr. William P. Lawrence, commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 143, catapulted from the deck of USS Constellation (CV 64) on a mission that took him over Nam Dinh, North Vietnam.

Two F-4B Phantoms of Fighter Squadron 143 head in over a North Vietnamese target on a strike mission.

 

He avoided enemy missiles, but was hit by concentrated anti-aircraft fire. Lawrence and his backseater, Lt. j.g. James W. Bailey, ejected. Lawrence remembered landing waist-deep in a rice paddy. Both aviators were immediately captured and taken to Hanoi as prisoners of war.

As a senior officer in the POW camp, he and the other prisoners perfected innovative techniques to communicate. Lawrence learned the tap code and committed it to memory. Key to survival, he said, was not only staying fit physically but also exercising his mind, even and especially in solitary confinement.

He and fellow POWs often faced punishment when caught communicating. In the hours and days alone, Lawrence relied on his memories and mental exercises in order to survive. He created poetry, reflected on history, remembered literature and did complex math in his mind.

In an oral history from nearly 40 years ago, he said something which should resonate with all of us in the age of the internet and constant distractions: “Our whole society is oriented toward picking up information readily through various media – TV, radio, newspaper – that the average person never gets deep into thought and concentration.”

For Lawrence and other POWs, mental toughness led to survival and the will to live despite torture, deprivation, darkness and numbing hardships. Mental toughness is an important component of both physical and moral courage.

“Bravery is not the absence of fear; it’s the ability to keep going in the presence of fear,” Lawrence said. “Never Give In.”

Lawrence was released in the spring of 1973 – 45 years ago. He returned to a broken family and a divided nation. He faced depression, but again his mental toughness helped him prevail.

An undated photo of Rear Adm. Lawrence. (Aviation Biography Files, History and Archives Division)

 

Speaking of his captors, Lawrence said, “I sensed, as the years went on, a kind of respect that developed on their part for us. I had no feelings of ill will toward them. I was a military man who was doing his assigned job, and I looked on them as military men doing their assigned jobs.”

After Vietnam, he served as assistant deputy chief of Naval Operations (Air Warfare); superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy; commander, U.S. Third Fleet; and chief of Naval Personnel before retiring in 1986.

Admiral Lawrence, who graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1951, was superintendent from 1978 to 1981 at a time when women were first accepted to the academy. His daughter, Wendy was one of the early women graduates. She became a Navy captain and an astronaut.

Wendy Lawrence, now retired, is a sponsor of guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), as is her sister, Dr. Laurie Lawrence, and Lawrence’s widow, Diane Wilcox Lawrence.

DDG -110 was commissioned on the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 4, 2011, five and half years after the ship’s namesake passed away.

MOBILE, Ala. (June 4, 2011) Members of a U.S. Navy color guard look on as the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawerence (DDG 110) man the rails and bring the ship to life during the ship’s commissioning ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Mark C. Jones/Released)

 

Sen. John S. McCain, another naval aviator POW imprisoned with Lawrence at the “Hanoi Hilton” for nearly six years, spoke at a memorial service for his shipmate. McCain said, “He’s probably the greatest man I’ve known in my life.” Lawrence was and is remembered for his inspirational leadership and quiet humility.

Here, from Hawaii and in the Pacific, USS William P. Lawrence Sailors conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.

DDG-110 is capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously with myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare.

Prior to arriving in Pearl Harbor in 2016, DDG-110 deployed as part of the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative with the U.S. Coast Guard and then participated in Exercise Foal Eagle with the Republic of Korea Navy.

Today, when women and men who serve aboard USS William P. Lawrence deploy from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, they are part of the U.S. 3rd Fleet that Vice Adm. Lawrence once commanded. They are expected to operate in the 7th Fleet area of operations, where they may at some point be one of the U.S. Navy ships visiting Vietnam.

Today, in the words of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, “We welcome enhancing our partnership with Vietnam in a way that supports mutual interests in peace, stability and adherence to a rules-based international order. This includes deepening capabilities of our two militaries to cooperate on issues like maritime security, peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson visited USS William P. Lawrence at the end of 2017 and administered the oath of enlistment to several William P. Lawrence Sailors. The CNO was here to reaffirm the Navy’s commitment to its Sailors, our allies and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 19, 2017) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson administers the oath of enlistment to four Sailors from the crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Elliott Fabrizio/Released)

 

This month, our Sailors aboard USS William P. Lawrence are looking forward to participating in the 26th Rim of the Pacific Exercise. The first RIMPAC was held in 1971, while William P. Lawrence’s namesake was still a POW in Hanoi.  This year, RIMPAC begins June 27, nearly 51 years to the day of Lawrence’s capture.

Training in RIMPAC reinforces capable, adaptive and innovative partnerships. Third Fleet is welcoming 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel to Hawaii for RIMPAC.

One of the countries participating for the first time – Vietnam.

NHA TRANG, Vietnam (May 17, 2018) Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen currently assigned to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) participating in Pacific Partnership 2018 (PP18) pose for a group photo during a press conference after the PP18 opening ceremony.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Micah Blechner/Released)

 

Author’s note: This blog can only begin to scratch the surface of William P. Lawrence’s legacy and history. I encourage you to go to the Naval History and Heritage Command and other sources to learn more. Lawrence was one of an elite group of naval aviators to apply to become astronauts and was prevented from joining John Glenn, Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong only because of a heart murmur.

As a POW, he was considered a hero among heroes for leading resistance, demonstrating strength of character, and maintaining the Code of Conduct. Speaking at USS William P. Lawrence’s commissioning, Adm. Sandy Winnefeld said to the ship’s plankowners, “Lawrences, we wish upon you – and your families – the courage, skill, integrity, toughness and magnificent humanity of the man in whose honor your ship is named … The wind you feel at your back is the push of a long tradition of the name Lawrence in serving our country – demanding the best of each of you.”

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/06/27/the-legacy-of-william-p-lawrence-toughness/ U.S. Navy

Resilience, Freedom Personified: Port Royal

Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Our guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) and its namesake, the Battle of Port Royal – fought in the first year of the American Civil War – are symbols of resilience and freedom.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) transits the South China Sea. Port Royal is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara B. Sexton/Released)


A relatively recent example.

When Port Royal returned from a successful deployment in support of Operation New Dawn on Valentine’s Day 2012, bringing a chance for freedom and democracy to Iraq, it was under a shadow. The ship’s grounding near Honolulu International Airport in 2009 led to a belief that structural issues would prevent the ship from being able to remain in service. Yet, Port Royal and her Sailors proved resilient, living up to the ship’s motto, “the will to win.”

Over the past three years her crew has certainly validated their ship is “ready to fight tonight” – recertifying in every warfare area, standing the test, and proven ready.

The crew completed workups, tested their systems and successfully deployed to the Western Pacific in 2016, where they conducted joint maritime security exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations with Southeast Asia partners. Port Royal next protected international commerce before proceeding to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to support USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to protect sea lanes and conduct interdiction of illicit weapons near Yemen and Somalia.

Back home just last year, Port Royal supported the USS Nimitz (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group by conducting ballistic missile tests and performing other duties in and around Hawaii operating areas. Now, the proud warship is halfway through a significant year-long availability period in Pearl Harbor.

One ship, one crew, one person can make a difference. The same can be true for one war, one campaign, one battle.

A more historic example.

Early in the Civil War, the Battle of Port Royal was part of a strategy to seal ports in the South and provide a vital refueling station – a key need in the days of coal. The battle was carried out by Federal Navy steam-powered wooden warships and gunboats in a war that would introduce steel-hulled ships and showed how, partnering with the Army and Marine Corps, the Navy could forge a powerful amphibious sea power.

The Great Naval Expedition to capture Port Royal, South Carolina, November 1861 Engraving published in Harper’s Weekly, July-December 1861 volume, pages 696-697. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

 

Historian Shelby Foote said the Battle of Port Royal was won as soon as it was conceived, based on the superior strength of naval forces, with steam changing the equation of power projection from the sea. “Naval power was going to be a dominant power in the war,” Foote writes.  Defenses crumbled when “assailed from both directions by naval crews who worked with coolness and precision.”

Victory at Port Royal showed the world the ideal of “E Pluribus Unum” was worth fighting for: “out of many, one.”

The battle itself wasn’t executed perfectly, largely due to severe storms off the Carolina coast, but the Navy proved its worth, and the nation demonstrated its commitment to ideals proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution.  Navy ships at the Battle of Port Royal certainly demonstrated the will to win. (The Civil War ended 153 years ago in the spring of 1865.)

Seventy-five years ago, in the middle of the War in the Pacific, our Navy had the will to win in amphibious warfare that led directly to an era of greater peace and prosperity – including a constitutional democracy and freedom and equality in Japan.

Today, the men and women aboard Port Royal – all with diverse backgrounds but a common mission, naval heritage, culture and purpose – serve here in Pearl Harbor. They and all their shipmates on the waterfront are in view of USS Arizona, the Battleship Missouri and other memorials: symbols of our ongoing commitment to defend our shared American ideals, symbols of our resilience, symbols of our will to win.

Sailors man the rails of the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) as the ship returns to homeport Pearl Harbor following a 212-day independent deployment to the Arabian Sea, Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, South China Sea, Western Pacific, and Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman/Released)


————————–

Author’s note:

I have a framed photo of Port Royal on my office wall in Pearl Harbor, signed by shipmates more than a decade ago from my time as the ship’s executive officer. The notes and memories of the Sailors I served with – aboard Port Royal and, frankly, wherever I’ve been stationed – represent great memories from the days of our service together.

Many outstanding and respected leaders have served aboard CG-73, including former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead. During my time, I had the pleasure of serving as XO for both Captain Lee Geanuleas and Captain Pat Allen, two amazing Navy leaders.

More recently, my former MIDPAC Chief of Staff, Captain Eric Weilenman, served as Port Royal’s Commanding Officer from March 2011 to October 2014.  Eric retires this month after completing 30 years of service to our Navy and nation. The ships, aircraft and equipment we operate are important high-value assets, but nothing is ever as important or as critical to the mission as our people. — Rear Adm. Fort

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/05/23/resilience-freedom-personified-port-royal/ U.S. Navy

‘Indomitable Determination’ of John Paul Jones

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort

Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

April is a great month to remember the namesake of one of our Pearl Harbor guided-missile destroyers, USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), named for a founding hero of our Navy and proudly known by the crew and their families and friends as “JPJ.”

On April 19, 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord lit the match of Revolution against British tyranny. At the time Great Britain had more than 250 warships with nearly half having 50 or more guns – cannons. Our tiny naval force consisted of a few ragtag privateers and some humble sailing vessels. Even before our nation began, the founders commissioned 13 frigates and recruited warfighters, including immigrants like John Paul Jones.

In April 1776, Jones was aboard the large converted merchant ship Alfred, taking the fight against the British with a contingent of Continental Marines. On April 6 the colonial mariners attacked and heavily damaged the British cruiser HMS Glasgow, which had been harassing the colonies’ shipping. It was our Navy’s first sea battle.

After that victory Lt. Jones was awarded with an assignment to captain of the Providence. A year later he was assigned to the sloop Ranger. Jones bristled at the state of readiness and combat capability of his new ship. Throughout his career he demanded the best, deadliest and fastest; he trained, equipped and operated with precision and rigor.

Depicting the capture of the HMS DRAKE by the Continental ship RANGER after a sea battle off Cerrick-Fergus in the Irish Sea on 24 April 1778. The RANGER was under command of Captain John Paul Jones.

On April 24, 1778, Jones, aboard Ranger, captured HMS Drake after thunderous fusillades of cannons and muskets and bloody close combat with cutlasses and boarding pikes.

We remember John Paul Jones for his courage and tenacity against all odds. His heroism aboard Bonhomme Richard and his bold attacks against the British homeland are well-known. He owned the fight, willingly going in harm’s way.

That legacy continues.

On April 5, 1956, the Navy commissioned USS John Paul Jones (DD-932), which made a shakedown cruise to Europe. The Forrest Sherman-class destroyer was re-designated DDG-32 and served our navy for more than 25 years.

Our current JPJ, DDG 53, was launched in October 1991, and ten years later – less than a month after 9/11 – fired the first Tomahawk missiles in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

PEARL HARBOR (Aug. 15, 2014) The guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) prepares to moor at her new homeport, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, following a homeport swap with the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70).  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro/Released)

JPJ is the first Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer to be stationed in the Pacific Fleet, and in the summer of 2014 became one of our go-to Ballistic Missile Defense System supporting ships in Hawaii, with the latest SM-3 missiles and updated, advanced Aegis capabilities.

During JPJ’s four years homeported in Pearl Harbor, the ship has participated in numerous operations and exercises, working closely with our Pacific Missile Range Facility test and training range, and cooperating with the forces of key allies like Japan and Republic of Korea. Here in Hawaii we are uniquely able to put new innovation to the test so our fleet can have proven, effective weapons systems.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 3, 2017) The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD), and U.S. Navy Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a flight test Feb. 3 (Hawaii Standard Time), resulting in the first intercept of a ballistic missile target using the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA off the west coast of Hawaii. (U.S. Navy photo by Leah Garton/Released)

JPJ helps the Navy determine the accuracy of weapons systems, detect potential system anomalies and demonstrate advances in surface force lethality and defensive capabilities. At the same time, JPJ, along with our other nine gray hulls in Pearl Harbor, conducts effective community outreach.

Back in 2006, Sailors of USS John Paul Jones and USS Preble (DDG 88) participated in the 99th Rose Festival in Portland Oregon. One imagines gentlemanly Capt. John Paul Jones, who was known for writing poetry, being pleased to be part of the festival.

As with many of our Navy’s namesakes, Capt. John Paul Jones was not without his flaws. He was a complicated man with conflicting personality traits, both sensitive and tough, reflective and extremely vain, paranoid and exceptionally self-assured.

In the words of Navy veteran Sen. John McCain, writing about Jones, “I challenge you to show me someone flawless who has made a significant contribution to history. It is not perfection that characterizes greatness. It is, rather, the ability to achieve great things in spite of ourselves.”

In many ways resilient warfighting John Paul Jones serves as a namesake for our entire Navy.

One final April reference: On April 24, 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt spoke at Annapolis at a re-interment ceremony commemorating John Paul Jones:

“Every officer in our Navy should know by heart the deeds of John Paul Jones. Every officer in our Navy should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.”

PEARL HARBOR (Oct. 13, 2015) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson addresses the crew aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) during their 240th Navy birthday celebration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martin L. Carey/Released)

Today our men and women of JPJ, along with their shipmates everywhere, continue to emulate their namesake’s resilience and willingness to fight, with the ability to survive and return, and with the commitment to adapt and overcome. Our Sailors are able to go in harm’s way, if necessary, with indomitable determination and the will to win.

(This is the sixth in a series of ten namesake blogs by Rear Adm. Fort, which are available at http://navylive.dodlive.mil/tag/brian-fort/)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/04/13/indomitable-determination-of-john-paul-jones/ parcher

Hopper: Innovation, Transformation, Inspiration

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

During last month’s historic first visit of the voyaging canoe Hokule‘a to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson spoke about his father, Myron “Pinky” Thompson, who was 15 years old at the time of the attack on Oahu Dec. 7, 1941. As soon as he was able, Pinky Thompson, like a lot of other young men at the time, falsified his age and joined the military to serve his country.

Women in the 1940s did not have as many opportunities to serve in uniform but the war opened occupations and doors, including for a smart mathematician named Grace Murray Hopper. Hopper wanted to join the military but, like Pinky Thompson, she had an obstacle because of her age. In her case, in her mid-30s, she was deemed too old to enlist.

Feisty and gritty Hopper didn’t give up though.

Just as she would do throughout her life, Hopper rose to the challenge and found solutions. When her chance came in 1943, she signed up with the U.S. Navy Reserve – that was 75 years ago. She went to work as a wartime problem solver – one of our first pioneers in modern computer programming.

Capt. Grace Hopper, then head of the Navy Programming Language Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, discusses a phase of her work with a staff member in August 1976. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 David C. MacLean/Released)
Capt. Grace Hopper, then head of the Navy Programming Language Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, discusses a phase of her work with a staff member in August 1976. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 David C. MacLean/Released)

 

She and her team took a systematic approach to coding: finding effective, accurate and universal ways for humans to communicate with machines and vice versa.

Think about that the next time you talk to your smartphone, tablet or voice-controlled home speaker.

Earlier in her career, Hopper served as an educator at Vassar, training and transforming minds. Within the Navy she became a programmer with Harvard and Yale, where she transformed the technology of the future. She served throughout her life – in and out of uniform – to transform the concept of a woman’s role in society, one based on equality of opportunity.

Hopper mentored and inspired young women and men to look for innovative ways to serve. She had no time for complacency, stale thinking or laziness. And she and her teams always carefully assessed their performance to look for opportunities to improve processes and technology.

Most recently “Amazing Grace’s” namesake, USS Hopper (DDG 70) – one of our ten homeported ships at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam – returned to Hawaii after a successful deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. Hopper was deployed 12 of the past 18 months.

Team Hopper proved their ability to keep the peace through their forward presence, but always ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat at sea if necessary. Hopper is among our ships adapting to the emerging security environment in the Indo-Pacific and ready to operate in a growingly complex, transforming world.

On their deployment, Sailors aboard Hopper proved their skills and abilities working with the America Amphibious Ready Group, United States Marines, and the Australian navy. They visited Bahrain, Singapore and Guam, and they built cooperative partnerships.

Hopper’s Sailors, of course, relied on state-of-the-art computers. While, today’s complex shipboard computer systems would no doubt amaze USS Hopper’s “Amazing” namesake, I suspect she would take it all in stride.

As a further testament to Rear Adm. Grace Hopper’s legacy, the U.S. Naval Academy is building Hopper Hall, to be named for the computer scientist pioneer. Hopper Hall, located between Nimitz Library and Rickover Hall, will be a modern $107-million academic facility dedicated to cyber security studies.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Oct. 21, 2016) The official party of the Hopper Hall ground breaking ceremony at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) dig out a scoop of dirt. Hopper Hall, which will house USNA's Center for Cyber Studies, is the namesake of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper who is often referred to as 'The Mother of Computing'. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Oct. 21, 2016) The official party of the Hopper Hall ground breaking ceremony at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) dig out a scoop of dirt. Hopper Hall, which will house USNA’s Center for Cyber Studies, is the namesake of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper who is often referred to as ‘The Mother of Computing’. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones/Released)

 

The facility is expected to be completed by early 2020, appropriately at the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. According to the Naval Academy this will be the first building at any of the three major service academies to be named after a woman.

By the way, the Naval Academy is also teaching courses along both ends of the exploration spectrum: from futuristic and innovative cyber security – including a major in cyber operations – to ancient celestial navigation as practiced by the Polynesian Voyaging Society aboard Hokule‘a.

Putting it all together, USS Hopper returned from her recent deployment just in time to be part of the aloha whistle welcome for the arrival of Hokule‘a Feb. 10. As the voyaging canoe entered Pearl Harbor, she also sailed past memorials including USS Arizona, USS Nevada, USS Utah and the Battleship Missouri – symbols of how our Navy helped transform our world, bringing freedom and democracy to Japan and other nations who are now allies, a transformation Grace Hopper was part of. That transformation gave greater rights and equality to women in the decades that followed, especially in our Navy.

During Hokule‘a’s week at JBPHH in February, women and men of the Polynesian Voyaging Society provided hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics education for 2,000 students and other visitors.

Just like Rear Adm. Grace Hopper – innovative, transformational and inspirational.

PEARL HARBOR (Feb. 10, 2018) The traditional Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a, renders honors as it passes by the USS Arizona Memorial during its first-ever visit to the waters of Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman/Released)
PEARL HARBOR (Feb. 10, 2018) The traditional Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a, renders honors as it passes by the USS Arizona Memorial during its first-ever visit to the waters of Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/03/14/hopper-innovation-transformation-inspiration/ U.S. Navy

Hopper: Innovation, Transformation, Inspiration

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

During last month’s historic first visit of the voyaging canoe Hokule‘a to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson spoke about his father, Myron “Pinky” Thompson, who was 15 years old at the time of the attack on Oahu Dec. 7, 1941. As soon as he was able, Pinky Thompson, like a lot of other young men at the time, falsified his age and joined the military to serve his country.

Women in the 1940s did not have as many opportunities to serve in uniform but the war opened occupations and doors, including for a smart mathematician named Grace Murray Hopper. Hopper wanted to join the military but, like Pinky Thompson, she had an obstacle because of her age. In her case, in her mid-30s, she was deemed too old to enlist.

Feisty and gritty Hopper didn’t give up though.

Just as she would do throughout her life, Hopper rose to the challenge and found solutions. When her chance came in 1943, she signed up with the U.S. Navy Reserve – that was 75 years ago. She went to work as a wartime problem solver – one of our first pioneers in modern computer programming.

Capt. Grace Hopper, then head of the Navy Programming Language Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, discusses a phase of her work with a staff member in August 1976. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 David C. MacLean/Released)
Capt. Grace Hopper, then head of the Navy Programming Language Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, discusses a phase of her work with a staff member in August 1976. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 David C. MacLean/Released)

 

She and her team took a systematic approach to coding: finding effective, accurate and universal ways for humans to communicate with machines and vice versa.

Think about that the next time you talk to your smartphone, tablet or voice-controlled home speaker.

Earlier in her career, Hopper served as an educator at Vassar, training and transforming minds. Within the Navy she became a programmer with Harvard and Yale, where she transformed the technology of the future. She served throughout her life – in and out of uniform – to transform the concept of a woman’s role in society, one based on equality of opportunity.

Hopper mentored and inspired young women and men to look for innovative ways to serve. She had no time for complacency, stale thinking or laziness. And she and her teams always carefully assessed their performance to look for opportunities to improve processes and technology.

Most recently “Amazing Grace’s” namesake, USS Hopper (DDG 70) – one of our ten homeported ships at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam – returned to Hawaii after a successful deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. Hopper was deployed 12 of the past 18 months.

Team Hopper proved their ability to keep the peace through their forward presence, but always ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat at sea if necessary. Hopper is among our ships adapting to the emerging security environment in the Indo-Pacific and ready to operate in a growingly complex, transforming world.

On their deployment, Sailors aboard Hopper proved their skills and abilities working with the America Amphibious Ready Group, United States Marines, and the Australian navy. They visited Bahrain, Singapore and Guam, and they built cooperative partnerships.

Hopper’s Sailors, of course, relied on state-of-the-art computers. While, today’s complex shipboard computer systems would no doubt amaze USS Hopper’s “Amazing” namesake, I suspect she would take it all in stride.

As a further testament to Rear Adm. Grace Hopper’s legacy, the U.S. Naval Academy is building Hopper Hall, to be named for the computer scientist pioneer. Hopper Hall, located between Nimitz Library and Rickover Hall, will be a modern $107-million academic facility dedicated to cyber security studies.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Oct. 21, 2016) The official party of the Hopper Hall ground breaking ceremony at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) dig out a scoop of dirt. Hopper Hall, which will house USNA's Center for Cyber Studies, is the namesake of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper who is often referred to as 'The Mother of Computing'. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Oct. 21, 2016) The official party of the Hopper Hall ground breaking ceremony at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) dig out a scoop of dirt. Hopper Hall, which will house USNA’s Center for Cyber Studies, is the namesake of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper who is often referred to as ‘The Mother of Computing’. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones/Released)

 

The facility is expected to be completed by early 2020, appropriately at the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. According to the Naval Academy this will be the first building at any of the three major service academies to be named after a woman.

By the way, the Naval Academy is also teaching courses along both ends of the exploration spectrum: from futuristic and innovative cyber security – including a major in cyber operations – to ancient celestial navigation as practiced by the Polynesian Voyaging Society aboard Hokule‘a.

Putting it all together, USS Hopper returned from her recent deployment just in time to be part of the aloha whistle welcome for the arrival of Hokule‘a Feb. 10. As the voyaging canoe entered Pearl Harbor, she also sailed past memorials including USS Arizona, USS Nevada, USS Utah and the Battleship Missouri – symbols of how our Navy helped transform our world, bringing freedom and democracy to Japan and other nations who are now allies, a transformation Grace Hopper was part of. That transformation gave greater rights and equality to women in the decades that followed, especially in our Navy.

During Hokule‘a’s week at JBPHH in February, women and men of the Polynesian Voyaging Society provided hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics education for 2,000 students and other visitors.

Just like Rear Adm. Grace Hopper – innovative, transformational and inspirational.

PEARL HARBOR (Feb. 10, 2018) The traditional Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a, renders honors as it passes by the USS Arizona Memorial during its first-ever visit to the waters of Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman/Released)
PEARL HARBOR (Feb. 10, 2018) The traditional Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a, renders honors as it passes by the USS Arizona Memorial during its first-ever visit to the waters of Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/03/14/hopper-innovation-transformation-inspiration/ U.S. Navy

Chafee and the Power of Integrity

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

A modern U.S. Navy destroyer weighs approximately 9,000 tons. The anchor – not including the weight of the chain – which is designed to hold the ship safely in place, weighs only two tons. Amazing! When anchored offshore, Navy commanders depend on their anchor to hold fast when the weather or tide turns and when leaving or entering port they depend on their anchor in an emergency.

So when it comes to your leadership, what’s your anchor? Ask yourself this question: what do you want most from your leaders and what do those you lead want most from you?

The answer is simple – integrity. That’s your anchor.

Last week, our guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) returned to homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following a seven-month deployment. Sailors aboard Chafee served throughout the span of the Pacific, from Western Pacific to South America. They demonstrated warfighting readiness, speed, precision and reach.

I am very proud of Team Chafee, not only for their command of the seas but also for the honor and integrity they showed throughout their deployment. And, by the way, check out their great online video with a particular shout-out to their namesake – John H. Chafee!

John Chafee epitomized integrity. He was a 19-year-old sophomore on the wrestling team at Yale University Dec. 7, 1941, when Oahu was attacked. Two months later he enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps. Six months later he was in combat with the original invasion force at Guadalcanal – just over 75 years ago.

During World War II, Chafee was selected for officer candidate school. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and returned to lead and fight with the 6th Marine Division in the Battle of Okinawa. He also served in Ting Tao, China, at the end of 1945.

In 1946 Chafee returned to Yale and became captain of the wrestling team. He then took the initiative to study at Harvard Law School.

In 1950, war ignited on the Korean Peninsula when the North invaded the South and duty called once more. Chafee returned to service as a captain and a company commander with the 1st Marine Division. His young Marines loved him because he led with integrity. His lieutenant, James Brady, who would author a book called “The Coldest War,” called Chafee “the most admirable man I’ve ever known.”

One day when Chafee’s rifle company had to cross a snow-covered ground believed to be a minefield, he took point and led his men across. The Marines, trusting their leader’s judgment, followed precisely in his footsteps. When they looked back, they saw one set of footprints in the snow.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 27, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) haul in line during a replenishment-at-sea with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE-8). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 27, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) haul in line during a replenishment-at-sea with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE-8). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis/Released)

 

Following his tour in Korea, Chafee served in the Marine Corps Legal office in Pearl Harbor until his release from active service in 1953.

After his military service, Chafee served as a local legislator and then as governor of Rhode Island. President Richard Nixon appointed Chafee as secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) in 1969. As SECNAV, Chafee chose Adm. Elmo Zumwalt to be chief of naval operations, which accelerated our Navy’s integration of minorities and women. Chafee championed modernization of naval forces as a top priority. He also oversaw the USS Pueblo (AGER 2) incident with statesmanship and diplomacy.

Chafee was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976 and helped bring about the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. He was an architect of the Superfund program to clean up hazardous waste sites. He advocated construction of Interstate 95, expanded Medicare and developed parks throughout his state. He demonstrated a lifelong commitment to physical fitness, the environment and support of the military.

In other words, he served people and he served with integrity and humility. Fellow Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said John Chafee set “a standard of decency, civility and kindness, remembering how to disagree without rancor … He exemplified everything that was good and decent and honorable about our country.”

HONG KONG (Oct. 2, 2017) Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Robert Minnich, left, and Seaman Amethyst Holder, both assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), prepare the riding stopper to attach to and secure the anchor chain as the ship arrives in Hong Kong. (U.S. Navya photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis/Released)
HONG KONG (Oct. 2, 2017) Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Robert Minnich, left, and Seaman Amethyst Holder, both assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), prepare the riding stopper to attach to and secure the anchor chain as the ship arrives in Hong Kong. (U.S. Navya photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis/Released)

 

Our Sailors expect us, as leaders, to take care of our people, including family members. They expect us to be trained in decision making, to be masters of communication, to be skilled in critical self-assessment and to be willing to rise to the challenge in a crisis. Sailors, and Marines, gravitate to integrity and the chance to make a difference as leaders themselves.

The Honorable John Chafee is the namesake for USS Chafee but he is an icon of leadership and integrity for our entire Navy.

Honor, Courage and Commitment are our core values. Integrity is our leadership anchor.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/01/17/chafee-and-the-power-of-integrity/ U.S. Navy

Warfighting Readiness to Win: Focused and Committed to the Mission

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

This past year was tough for the Surface Navy. I know. In June of 2017, less than a week after I arrived in Pearl Harbor to take over as the new Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific commander, I flew to Yokosuka, Japan to lead the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) collision investigation. For the rest of my life, I am emotionally invested in that investigation, and for the remainder of my service in the Navy I am professionally and personally invested in the corrective actions – most specifically, our warfighting readiness to win.

In wartime our mission is simple – fight and win our nation’s wars. In peacetime our mission is equally simple – be ready to go and fight and win. In 2018 if you are assigned to the Surface Navy in Pearl Harbor, you will be at the epicenter of Navy warfighting culture and readiness to win!

In Pearl Harbor we have history on our side. Seventy-five years ago, Lt. Cmdr. Richard O’Kane set the standard of our Navy warfighting culture. As executive officer of USS Wahoo (SS 238) and then, in 1943, as commanding officer of USS Tang (SS 306), O’Kane earned an unequaled record of victories against the enemy, destroying their warships and supply lines.

President Harry S. Truman congratulates Cmdr. Richard H. O'Kane after he had been presented the Medal of Honor on the White House lawn, March 27, 1946. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
President Harry S. Truman congratulates Cmdr. Richard H. O’Kane after he had been presented the Medal of Honor on the White House lawn, March 27, 1946. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

O’Kane went into harm’s way focused and committed to the mission.

The former surface warfare officer volunteered for submarine duty because he saw it as more dangerous and challenging. And, in many ways, he was right.

Submariners suffered the greatest numbers of casualties on average in World War II. They wore no life vests because of the narrow hatches. If they became prisoners of war, they were singled out for the most brutal punishment. Worst of all, in the heat of battle their torpedoes often malfunctioned, especially in the early months of the war.

Even as late as 1944, errant torpedoes caused problems, including for O’Kane. Aboard USS Tang, after sinking 13 enemy ships and 107,323 tons of enemy shipping, O’Kane fired his final torpedo, but it curved left, porpoised and circled back, striking Tang’s stern and sinking the submarine.

O’Kane survived both the sinking and his time as a POW, and after the war President Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor. He personified toughness in the face of adversity, and after the war he served as Commanding Officer of the Submarine School in New London, Connecticut, where he inspired a culture of warfighting.

Today, USS O’Kane (DDG 77) is one of five guided-missile destroyers forward-deployed in the Indo-Pacific – half of the homeported surface ships in Hawaii. A number of submarines are also deployed from Pearl Harbor.

PEARL HARBOR (April 20, 2016) The guided missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) transits the Pacific Ocean off of the coast of Oahu. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)
PEARL HARBOR (April 20, 2016) The guided missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) transits the Pacific Ocean off of the coast of Oahu. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

 

Here at Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific we have the exceptional distinction of being two commands united at a perfect juncture: the intersection of the waterfront surface ships and the installations which provide infrastructure, repairs, logistics, training, and testing of those ships. With the strong support of our tenant commands we meet and sustain the needs of our fleet, our warfighters, and our families. Fundamentally, we are best and uniquely postured to positively impact the Pearl Harbor surface fleet warfighting culture, and we are focused and committed to that task.

Today, our allies’ maritime forces know they have no better friend than the United States Navy. Potential adversaries should also know they have no worse enemy.

Here in Pearl Harbor, we rose to the challenge 76 years ago as “Remember Pearl Harbor” sharpened our warfighting culture. In the wake of 9/11, when our culture was tested, we rose to the challenge once more. At the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England, we returned to our First Navy Jack, “Don’t Tread on Me,” on the jack staffs of all Navy warships as a historic reminder of the nation’s and Navy’s origins and our will to persevere and triumph.

Throughout all of 2018, the headquarters building of Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific is flying our First Navy Jack. We do this to honor the 17 shipmates we lost on Fitzgerald and John S. McCain and as a reminder that our warfighting edge is not only back but renewed and forged with purpose.

Sailors in Hawaii are focused and committed to our warfighting culture. Just like Rear Adm. O’Kane and the Sailors of World War II, our Sailors are ready to go, ready to fight and ready to win when called.

PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 1, 2018) Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Gerado Taddei, left, and Yeoman 2nd Class Andrew Thompson, right, fly the "First Navy Jack" to start the New Year on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin M. Colbert/Released)
PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 1, 2018) Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Gerado Taddei, left, and Yeoman 2nd Class Andrew Thompson, right, fly the “First Navy Jack” to start the New Year on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin M. Colbert/Released)

 

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/01/10/warfighting-readiness-to-win-focused-and-committed-to-the-mission/ U.S. Navy

Veterans Day Salute to a Navy Chief and His Ship

Chief Watertender Peter Tōmich
Chief Watertender Peter Tōmich

By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

This is a true tale of a Navy chief and his ship – and how one individual can inspire generations of veterans, including all of us who serve today.

One year before World War I began in Sarajevo in 1914, a young Croatian man who lived just three hours away from Sarajevo, left to find a better life – as an immigrant to the United States.

His name was Petre Herceg-Tonic, but when he landed on American shores he became Peter Tōmich.

One hundred years ago, in 1917 when the United States entered the First World War, Peter joined the Army. He served honorably, earned his citizenship and, when his enlistment in the Army ended, he enlisted in the Navy to become an engineer.

At the same time as Tōmich served in the Army 100 years ago, a relatively young battleship named for our 45th state, USS Utah (BB 31), was also serving in WWI. Utah was the flagship for U.S. Battleship Division 6, forward-deployed to Europe and stationed in Bantry Bay, Ireland.

Later, after Utah’s 20 years of combatant service, the Navy converted and re-designated the proud coal-burning battleship into a demilitarized target ship – AG-16. Utah’s deck was outfitted with 12-inch wide, six-inch thick timbers to absorb practice bombing runs. No longer a warfighter, Utah nevertheless had a vital role – training aviators and the fleet.

USS Utah (AG-16) circa 1940 after being fitted with 5/25 guns forward and amidships for gunnery training service. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
USS Utah (AG-16) circa 1940 after being fitted with 5/25 guns forward and amidships for gunnery training service. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

Utah’s crew would keep the ship in operating condition, conduct drills and rush below decks for safety before each practice run.

The chief water tender for Utah in 1941 was Chief Peter Tōmich.

At 7:55 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941, Utah was moored on the west side of Ford Island, where an aircraft carrier normally berthed.

Imperial Japanese planes attacked and strafed the ships in the harbor, including Utah, firing torpedoes as they approached.

Within minutes of the attack, two underwater hits ripped into Utah’s port side and it immediately listed 15 degrees to port. Five minutes later, the ship was listing 40 degrees. The huge timbers shifted and crushed Sailors trying to escape.

PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 7, 1941) USS Utah (AG-16) capsizes off Ford Island during the attack on Pearl Harbor after being torpedoed by Japanese aircraft. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 7, 1941) USS Utah (AG-16) capsizes off Ford Island during the attack on Pearl Harbor after being torpedoed by Japanese aircraft. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

Meanwhile, Tōmich headed below decks as the crew turned to make their way topside. Tōmich knew he had to stabilize and secure the boilers before they exploded into a massive inferno that could certainly kill hundreds of his shipmates still escaping the ship or swimming to safety nearby.

He gave his life to save others.

That was 75 years ago last December. World War II veterans carried the memory of Pearl Harbor, Tōmich and others like him into battle. These veterans created a more peaceful world both in the Pacific and in Europe.

Croatia, Tōmich’s original homeland, became a friend and ally of the United States in 1992. Today, people throughout the world visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor aboard 150-passenger white boats named after Medal of Honor recipients. One of those boats is named TB39-6 Peter Tōmich.

In tribute to his heroism, the Navy launched a destroyer escort named USS Tōmich in December 1942 and the ship carried Tōmich’s Medal of Honor. Today, the original Medal of Honor is currently held at the Naval History and Heritage Command Curator Branch Artifact Collection. A replica is on display at the Senior Enlisted Academy.

In 2006 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the Navy also presented the medal in Tōmich’s name to his Croatian family descendants. Adm. Harry Ulrich, then commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, made the presentation.

SPLIT, Croatia (May 18, 2006) Adm. Harry Ulrich, then commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, presents the Medal of Honor to retired Croation Army Lt. Col. Srecko Herceg on behalf of U.S. Navy Chief Watertender Peter Tōmich on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Milosz Reterski/Released)
SPLIT, Croatia (May 18, 2006) Adm. Harry Ulrich, then commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, presents the Medal of Honor to retired Croation Army Lt. Col. Srecko Herceg on behalf of U.S. Navy Chief Watertender Peter Tōmich on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Milosz Reterski/Released)

“For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the fleet in Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Tōmich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the USS Utah, until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fireroom personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life.”

During the ceremony Ulrich said, “It would be unfair to ask you to do what Peter Tōmich did… It would be fair to ask you to be ready to do what Peter Tōmich did.”

This month on Veterans Day, we remember veterans who serve and who have served our nation. And like Chief Peter Tōmich, we should all ask ourselves, are we ready to fight tonight and are we making a difference?

Next month, Navy Region Hawaii will help host the commemoration for the 76th anniversary of the attack on Oahu and we’ll have a special ceremony, as usual, at the USS Utah Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

We will honor our veterans. We will remember Pearl Harbor. And we will reflect on the legacy of a Navy chief and his ship.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/11/09/veterans-day-salute-to-a-navy-chief-and-his-ship/ U.S. Navy