Category: Navy Life

What We Do Is Hard; It’s OK to Ask for Help

By Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith

Suicide is one of the most complex problems we face, one that has a tremendously detrimental effect on our Navy—and one that, as a self-inflicted casualty, is preventable. We’ve tragically lost Sailors, our teammates and friends, who felt that the only option they had left was a terrible one—one that ended their pain, and yet in doing so inflicted a heavy and interminable burden of confusion and sadness on those of us who remained behind.  

To paint suicide as a simple and straightforward issue would be a gross oversimplification; there are many, disparate reasons someone may make that decision for themselves. Short-term issues that seem insurmountable, or longer-term feelings of loneliness, not belonging or being wanted can make suicide seem like an attractive option. Chronic pain or a perceived hopelessness that makes fighting for a better tomorrow seem futile, perhaps seeking to unburden loved ones or escape from a painful situation. To the one suffering, it’s difficult to understand the actual impacts for those destined to live with a chasm in our hearts, in our units and in our lives—with unanswered questions and a long list of “what ifs.” That is equally difficult.     

So while there may not be one simple reason that we can pursue, we need to do something to change our culture and address this issue in a more substantive way. Feelings of depression and self-harm do not respect rank, and factors like financial health or a lofty leadership title does nothing to inoculate against the ache of loneliness or living in a state of desolation. Hopelessness can stalk anyone, whether they live in the heart of a major city, are stationed on a destroyer or serve in a remote or austere location. We cannot take for granted, based on anything other than a conversation and how we interact with each other, that someone is “ok”—despite appearing to have everything going for them—just as we cannot ignore someone who is clearly struggling with the circumstances of their life. Most of us will find ourselves at risk at some point in our lives, and it is in those moments when we need to connect that a connection must be made.

One common thread seems to be clear: Connecting to one another in meaningful ways works against feelings central to wanting to leave unexpectedly. Finding ways to check on each other—not like you’re fulfilling the day’s errands but in a truly authentic and meaningful way—is a great start. Embracing our shipmates as needed and beloved members of our Navy family: that is something you and I can do, or continue to do, in order to really make a difference. Talk to your Sailors, but also talk to your boss. The burden of leadership can often be a heavy one; it’s ok to ask your boss how she or he is doing, because we all should be genuinely concerned for the welfare of the team, senior and junior alike.  

Share your strength, and draw strength from your shipmates. Reinforce those concepts that our teams rely on as binding elements—trust, honesty, transparency and compassion—which will engender a sense of belonging that will combat the dangerous feelings of isolation. Our Sailors must be reminded, and must know through and through, that we don’t just care for each other; no, we rely on absolutely and need each other to face the rigors of combat, to survive and return home to our loved ones. 

We each swore an oath to face the many determined enemies of our American way of life, and they are indeed formidable. For the Sailor who may be in that place of loneliness, I tell you, shipmate, that I have been you—as many have been, whether they will admit it or not. I would implore you to consider how much your family and your friends need you, and just as importantly how much your shipmates need you in the days, weeks and years to come. 

War will continue to challenge us, and not everyone who sails into battle will survive; you may be the reason that a ship returns victorious, or a squadron returns stateside as a complete unit. You could be the reason a submarine was able to navigate home after conducting a harrowing mission that, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, was never there. You are needed, you are necessary, and I hope all of us can stand together to face whatever comes next. What we do is hard; it’s ok not to be ok, but it’s not ok not to ask for help. If you’re not in a great place, come to us and let us help you get back to a mindset where you can again take your place in the fight.

As your shipmates, we will be looking for you, but you don’t have to wait for us to discern that you are the one who must take a knee for a time. Help us, so we can help you, and then we will get after the enemy—together.

CNO Adm. Gilday: Small Steps Save Lives

By Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and while we should talk about this subject year-round, it is important to me that we have a frank conversation about this right now.

Suicide is a tragedy that extends beyond individual Sailors. Every death by suicide — whether it be uniformed Sailors, Navy Civilians, or families — affects our entire Navy family, and it is extremely troubling to me that suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in our Navy. 

We all go through challenges and stressors that can be difficult to talk about… But no one should feel so isolated or overwhelmed by events that they consider suicide.

That is why it is important that we talk to our shipmates … really talk to them.  Ask them how they’re doing and actively listen. Talking about our challenges, whether they’re operational, social, or psychological, is one small act we can do every day to make all of us better. It fosters a climate of trust and encourages Sailors to ask for help in their time of need. 

We must build that trust up and down the chain of command to ensure Sailors feel comfortable reaching out to their leadership and shipmates. 

Let me be clear. There cannot be BYSTANDERS in our Navy. That is why it’s so important that WE ALL take the time to look for potential warning signs. We need all hands on deck for this.

Right now, in your division, your department or your command, there is someone that needs your help, who is struggling with stress or having thoughts of suicide.

Sometimes the signs are verbal, like a Sailor casually saying that they feel like they have no purpose or feel as though they don’t belong. There may also be behavioral signs, like increased alcohol use or other substance misuse, withdrawing from usual activities, or uncharacteristic rage or anger. 

Look closely for these signs when your shipmate is experiencing a combination of multiple stressors, including:

  • Relationship problems
  • Personal or professional loss
  • Recent career transitions
  • Disciplinary / legal issues and financial strain
  • The harmful effects of prolonged stress and chronic sleep deprivation

With many suicides, shipmates saw signs of distress but weren’t able to recognize them as indicators of suicide risk. Trust your gut and ACT (Ask, Care, Treat). Use intrusive leadership, look your shipmates in the eyes, and ask, “Are you okay?” 

I expect our leaders to build and support Command Resilience Teams. Along with suicide prevention coordinators, use your chaplains and embedded mental health providers. I want our leaders to set a tone within their commands where Sailors feel comfortable and have the courage to ask for help without fear of judgement or consequences. That way when Sailors do seek help, they do so confidently, knowing they’ll receive the support and resources they need.

While we have strengthened our efforts through initiatives like “Every Sailor Every Day,” along with the Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life program, or SAIL, we have to sustain momentum beyond a singular conversation, momentary action or the creation of a new policy.

Help is always available. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Military Crisis Line or text 838255 for free confidential support 24/7.

Be there for every Sailor, every day.

NORFOLK (Sept. 13, 2019) Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Paul Kopel and Peg Smith, health promotions staff members at the Branch Health Clinic (BHC) at Naval Station Norfolk, set up a display of 79 pairs of boots to remember the 79 Sailors who were lost to suicide in 2018 and to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Have you seen the boots?” is an initiative to identify and remember Sailors lost to suicide and to identify what the Navy community is missing when it comes to this tragedy. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Imani N. Daniels/Released)

The Navy Picked You for a Reason

By Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday

Today, around the Navy and around the world, men and women—Sailors—are making an incredible transition and advancing to Chief Petty Officer. The Navy Memorial is one of our most sacred places, here in Washington, D.C., and today I will stand with a group of Sailors who will receive their anchors. I can’t think of a more fitting place to celebrate such a transformational day.

Over the past six weeks, many Sailors have been challenged, and those challenges were hard but nothing compared to what they will face in the years to come. And that’s ok, because challenge is good. Challenges strengthen us. As I reflect on the critical impact Chiefs have had on my life and career, I am convinced of the importance of the Mess as an institution.

My first Chief told me that our most important weapons system is our Navy Team and their families. People are and will continue to be our key competitive advantage over any adversary. The fact that I am highlighting this enduring principle, 34 years after I first heard it from my Chief, reflects how pivotal Chief Petty Officers have been in my own life and career.

Every time I get the opportunity to reconnect with a group of Chiefs, I leave feeling uplifted and inspired. Those brief times reinforce how important the institution of the Chief Petty Officers’ Mess is to our Navy and our nation.

I use that word institution carefully. When we use it, we often do so to indicate something that has merely been around for a long time. That’s not what I mean today. That usage of the word indicates staleness and complacency, the exact opposite of what the Chiefs’ Mess represents. The original meaning is far better. The word “institution” is the “action of establishing or founding” and under this definition, the institution of the Chiefs’ Mess is not who you are, or the insignia you wear, or the fact that we’ve marked this occasion for many years, but what you do, the actions you take, day-in, and day-out, large and small—that Chiefs routinely undertake to enable our Sailors to perform at their very best.

Even the briefest review of history demonstrates that Chief Petty Officers are Sailors of action. Some of their names, like John Finn, or Oscar Peterson or Peter Tomich—all Chiefs who were awarded the Medal of Honor—are legends in their own right. These examples of valor and of sacrifice are worthy of telling and retelling, but there is something even greater than these individual examples. Our Navy’s achievements throughout our history are due in large measure to the training and mentorship provided by Chief Petty Officers.

Later this year, we’ll commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The line of heroes we look to for inspiration from that series of combat actions is long as well. We will remember Cmdr. Ernest Evans and Lt. Cmdr. Robert Copeland and Gunner’s Mate Third Class Paul Carr. A Chief isn’t in that list, but the Sailors and Officers we lionize from that battle were all trained and mentored by Chief Petty Officers. Those Chiefs would probably tell you that they weren’t looking for credit. They weren’t looking to get their name mentioned by the CNO 75 years later. They were focused on the actions they needed to take to establish the Chiefs’ Mess, to institute the Chiefs’ Mess—every day. They were focused on making our Navy team the most lethal weapons system in our arsenal and they were focused on creating winners – the Sailors and Officers whose actions would cement the U.S. Navy’s combat record and show that our destroyers can fight like battleships as they did at Leyte Gulf.

I sent a letter to all of the Chiefs who just donned their anchors, and I’ve charged them and those who already wear anchors to think about the Chiefs’ Mess as an institution: the sum of the daily acts, both small and large, that continue to challenge us and force us to rise to the standards of those who came before. The actions that will leave our Navy in a better position tomorrow. I also told them that this can’t happen from the physical space of the Mess. They have to be constantly involved in their Sailors’ lives on and off duty.

Chiefs, carrying forward the legacy of those who came before you will test you, and will draw on all the skills, knowledge, and experiences that formed the basis for your selection. The demands you face are tall indeed, and I have high expectations of our Chief Petty Officers, as do the Sailors you serve and lead. However, I am confident that you’ll rise to meet these obligations, making the most of each and every day, leading Sailors and Officers to fulfill the promise of their potential. The challenges we face as a Navy and a nation demand that you do so, as do those who wore anchors before you. We need your best efforts more than ever. I want every Chief in the fleet, new and old, to remember that the Navy not only expects more of you, but demands it—now more than ever. To those of you donning your anchors today, congratulations. You are now the Chief! Thank you for all that you do, and I’ll see you out in the fleet.

Navy Band Orchestrates Partnerships in Africa

The band exists at the tactical level of relationship building. At the boundary between cultures, the band is the bridge. –Adm. James G. Foggo, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa

 

By Musician 1st Class Joseph Schoonmaker

The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s brass band, “Topside,” just returned from a six-week deployment to the Gulf of Guinea aboard USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS). The deployment took us to Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde, each country providing unforgettable opportunities to make connections with people from all walks of life, with diverse cultural backgrounds, using the universal language of music.

ROTA, Spain (July 2, 2019) The Spearhead-class expeditionary transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) departing Rota, Spain for an Africa Partnership Station deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

 

The purpose of this deployment was to strengthen partnerships and demonstrate U.S. commitment to West African partners. The mission focused on small boat maintenance, maritime law enforcement, Navy medicine, and community relations outreach, with embarked teams from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard as well as Sailors from the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish navies.

“Topside” is a traditional “New Orleans-style” brass band. We take great pride in the diversity of music we represent, and in preparation for our performances in Africa, we tried to learn at least one song from each country on the deployment schedule. We do this to demonstrate respect for their culture and to grow as musicians. It also opens the door to collaborating with local musicians, creating unique moments in live performances. We have found audiences from Italy to Latvia to West Africa to be very appreciative that we have invested the time and energy to engage with their music. When we visit countries where language provides a barrier to interaction, music acts as an international language. With the connection of music, the band helps build true and lasting partnerships. As I like to say during concerts and workshops, we are not there to impose our culture but rather to offer a true exchange where each side learns and grows.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 9, 2019) – Musicians from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band Topside perform with local musicians during an Africa Partnership Station community engagement at the Blaise Senghor Regional Culture Center of Dakar, Senegal. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

 

We met the USNS Carson City in Dakar, Senegal. At the U.S. Embassy’s 4th of July celebration, we were joined onstage by the popular djembe drummer “Papis.” We also enjoyed a collaborative performance with musicians, dancers, and actors from the National School of Arts, during which they taught us a Senegalese folk song. Our African music education became a theme and the key to our relationships during APS. Prior to the trip, we learned “Conquer the World” by Youssou Ndour featuring Akon. We used both songs throughout the deployment. The highlight event in Dakar was a concert at the African Renaissance Monument during the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. The crowd, watching the matches on a big-screen TV, joined us for a rousing rendition of “7 Nation Army,” which is used worldwide as a stadium chant, just as Benin won a penalty shootout. The energy was electric and created a truly memorable experience for the band and the crowd.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 4, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, performs during a 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, July 4, 2019. The NAVEUR Band supports commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa/Joint Forces Command Naples, and commander, U.S. 6th Fleet priorities, which serve to enhance international community relations among partner nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

The next leg of the trip was in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. For our performances and radio interviews, the band was accompanied by two French-speaking U.S. Navy Sailors with local connections. The diversity of the band provided us with an opportunity for genuine local interaction. One of the Sailors, a naval reservist who grew up in Abidjan, taught us an Ivorian folk melody. We played it for the radio shows as well as live audiences. The students from the University of Felix Houphouet Boigny gave us one of the most enthusiastic receptions we’ve ever seen, singing, dancing, and chanting, “USA! USA!”

ABIDJAN, Cote D’Ivoire (July 16, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside”, is interviewed by local media during a tour of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) while the ship is in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 17, 2019) – Lt. Lynda Amegee, from Lome, Togo, dances while U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, performs during an audio recording for Al Bayane 95.7 FM radio station in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

 

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 18, 2019) – The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band New Orlean’s brass band, Topside, performs alongside a child during a community relations project at the SOS Children’s Village Abobo Gare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

Our next stop, Sekondi, Ghana, offered further proof of West African hospitality with a welcome party featuring Ghanaian bands accompanied by traditional dancers, gifts of soccer-style scarves, and a red, white, and blue cake. We teamed up for a reggae jam session with a Ghanaian Navy Band in Tema, having a musical conversation. Previously, while underway from Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana, we learned a folk melody from several Ghanaian Sailors who joined Carson City for a few days. As with each country on this trip, audiences immediately recognized the tune and sang along. The music not only brings the musicians together but also, through dancing and singing, encourages the relationships of the other APS crew members with our host-nation partners.

SEKONDI, Ghana (July 21, 2019) Chief Musician Justin Belka, a trumpeter for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, plays alongside the Ghanian band Rhythm 360 while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in Sekondi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

TAKORADI, Ghana (July 22, 2019) – Takoradi residents dance as the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), parades through the streets of Takoradi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

Nigeria brought a welcomed return to Lagos for our band, as we had previously visited during exercise Obangame Express, a large collaborative naval exercise in March of this year. During that exercise, we were introduced to Freedom Park, a special place in the life of the city. We thought it would be a great place to perform, not knowing we would get that opportunity just five months later. Our Nigerian song of choice was “Water No Get Enemy” by afro-beat legend Fela Kuti. Rehearsal leading up to our first performance had a different energy as everyone understood the significance of playing the music of such a significant cultural icon as Fela Kuti, while in the very place he had cultivated a following that would eventually spread throughout Africa and the world. Even understanding the significance of the moment, we could have never imagined the reaction we received. The audience practically jumped out of their seats when we hit the first note! The next day, we performed the same song on Silverbird TV, reaching millions of viewers in and beyond Lagos. Playing Fela Kuti in that city and getting that reaction was a special, unforgettable moment in our musical careers. This demonstrates the power and impact of maintaining relationships with our partners. Our previous trip to Nigeria served to enhance our visit during APS.

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 28, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) performs at Johnson Jakande Tinubu Park in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 30, 2019) – Band members from U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), perform as musical guests on the television show “Today on STV” at SilverbirdTV in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

Cabo Verde closed out the deployment for us. We were privileged to play “Sodade,” a beautiful Cabo Verdean ballad, outside the municipal market in downtown Mindelo. The band played softly and let the crowd carry the tune. It was a special moment and a wonderful reflective way to close out our time in Africa. It was the last in a series of outstanding, often unscripted, shared experiences that served as the lasting hallmarks of our deployment.

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), performs on the streets of Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside” performs during a media tour on the flight deck of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

All told, we performed 40 times for live and broadcast audiences exceeding 15 million. The social media impact has been significant and is, in fact, ongoing. This mission was a pitch-perfect example of what Navy bands are capable of and how they can contribute to broader goals of the Navy and the United States. On a personal note, this deployment has been the highlight of my career thus far and an experience for which I am profoundly grateful.

Navy Band Orchestrates Partnerships in Africa

The band exists at the tactical level of relationship building. At the boundary between cultures, the band is the bridge. –Adm. James G. Foggo, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa

 

By Musician 1st Class Joseph Schoonmaker

The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s brass band, “Topside,” just returned from a six-week deployment to the Gulf of Guinea aboard USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS). The deployment took us to Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde, each country providing unforgettable opportunities to make connections with people from all walks of life, with diverse cultural backgrounds, using the universal language of music.

ROTA, Spain (July 2, 2019) The Spearhead-class expeditionary transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) departing Rota, Spain for an Africa Partnership Station deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

 

The purpose of this deployment was to strengthen partnerships and demonstrate U.S. commitment to West African partners. The mission focused on small boat maintenance, maritime law enforcement, Navy medicine, and community relations outreach, with embarked teams from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard as well as Sailors from the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish navies.

“Topside” is a traditional “New Orleans-style” brass band. We take great pride in the diversity of music we represent, and in preparation for our performances in Africa, we tried to learn at least one song from each country on the deployment schedule. We do this to demonstrate respect for their culture and to grow as musicians. It also opens the door to collaborating with local musicians, creating unique moments in live performances. We have found audiences from Italy to Latvia to West Africa to be very appreciative that we have invested the time and energy to engage with their music. When we visit countries where language provides a barrier to interaction, music acts as an international language. With the connection of music, the band helps build true and lasting partnerships. As I like to say during concerts and workshops, we are not there to impose our culture but rather to offer a true exchange where each side learns and grows.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 9, 2019) – Musicians from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band Topside perform with local musicians during an Africa Partnership Station community engagement at the Blaise Senghor Regional Culture Center of Dakar, Senegal. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

 

We met the USNS Carson City in Dakar, Senegal. At the U.S. Embassy’s 4th of July celebration, we were joined onstage by the popular djembe drummer “Papis.” We also enjoyed a collaborative performance with musicians, dancers, and actors from the National School of Arts, during which they taught us a Senegalese folk song. Our African music education became a theme and the key to our relationships during APS. Prior to the trip, we learned “Conquer the World” by Youssou Ndour featuring Akon. We used both songs throughout the deployment. The highlight event in Dakar was a concert at the African Renaissance Monument during the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. The crowd, watching the matches on a big-screen TV, joined us for a rousing rendition of “7 Nation Army,” which is used worldwide as a stadium chant, just as Benin won a penalty shootout. The energy was electric and created a truly memorable experience for the band and the crowd.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 4, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, performs during a 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, July 4, 2019. The NAVEUR Band supports commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa/Joint Forces Command Naples, and commander, U.S. 6th Fleet priorities, which serve to enhance international community relations among partner nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

The next leg of the trip was in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. For our performances and radio interviews, the band was accompanied by two French-speaking U.S. Navy Sailors with local connections. The diversity of the band provided us with an opportunity for genuine local interaction. One of the Sailors, a naval reservist who grew up in Abidjan, taught us an Ivorian folk melody. We played it for the radio shows as well as live audiences. The students from the University of Felix Houphouet Boigny gave us one of the most enthusiastic receptions we’ve ever seen, singing, dancing, and chanting, “USA! USA!”

ABIDJAN, Cote D’Ivoire (July 16, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside”, is interviewed by local media during a tour of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) while the ship is in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 17, 2019) – Lt. Lynda Amegee, from Lome, Togo, dances while U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, performs during an audio recording for Al Bayane 95.7 FM radio station in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

 

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 18, 2019) – The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band New Orlean’s brass band, Topside, performs alongside a child during a community relations project at the SOS Children’s Village Abobo Gare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

Our next stop, Sekondi, Ghana, offered further proof of West African hospitality with a welcome party featuring Ghanaian bands accompanied by traditional dancers, gifts of soccer-style scarves, and a red, white, and blue cake. We teamed up for a reggae jam session with a Ghanaian Navy Band in Tema, having a musical conversation. Previously, while underway from Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana, we learned a folk melody from several Ghanaian Sailors who joined Carson City for a few days. As with each country on this trip, audiences immediately recognized the tune and sang along. The music not only brings the musicians together but also, through dancing and singing, encourages the relationships of the other APS crew members with our host-nation partners.

SEKONDI, Ghana (July 21, 2019) Chief Musician Justin Belka, a trumpeter for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, plays alongside the Ghanian band Rhythm 360 while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in Sekondi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

TAKORADI, Ghana (July 22, 2019) – Takoradi residents dance as the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), parades through the streets of Takoradi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

Nigeria brought a welcomed return to Lagos for our band, as we had previously visited during exercise Obangame Express, a large collaborative naval exercise in March of this year. During that exercise, we were introduced to Freedom Park, a special place in the life of the city. We thought it would be a great place to perform, not knowing we would get that opportunity just five months later. Our Nigerian song of choice was “Water No Get Enemy” by afro-beat legend Fela Kuti. Rehearsal leading up to our first performance had a different energy as everyone understood the significance of playing the music of such a significant cultural icon as Fela Kuti, while in the very place he had cultivated a following that would eventually spread throughout Africa and the world. Even understanding the significance of the moment, we could have never imagined the reaction we received. The audience practically jumped out of their seats when we hit the first note! The next day, we performed the same song on Silverbird TV, reaching millions of viewers in and beyond Lagos. Playing Fela Kuti in that city and getting that reaction was a special, unforgettable moment in our musical careers. This demonstrates the power and impact of maintaining relationships with our partners. Our previous trip to Nigeria served to enhance our visit during APS.

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 28, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) performs at Johnson Jakande Tinubu Park in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 30, 2019) – Band members from U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), perform as musical guests on the television show “Today on STV” at SilverbirdTV in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

Cabo Verde closed out the deployment for us. We were privileged to play “Sodade,” a beautiful Cabo Verdean ballad, outside the municipal market in downtown Mindelo. The band played softly and let the crowd carry the tune. It was a special moment and a wonderful reflective way to close out our time in Africa. It was the last in a series of outstanding, often unscripted, shared experiences that served as the lasting hallmarks of our deployment.

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), performs on the streets of Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside” performs during a media tour on the flight deck of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

 

All told, we performed 40 times for live and broadcast audiences exceeding 15 million. The social media impact has been significant and is, in fact, ongoing. This mission was a pitch-perfect example of what Navy bands are capable of and how they can contribute to broader goals of the Navy and the United States. On a personal note, this deployment has been the highlight of my career thus far and an experience for which I am profoundly grateful.

Navy Band Orchestrates Partnerships in Africa

The band exists at the tactical level of relationship building. At the boundary between cultures, the band is the bridge. –Adm. James G. Foggo, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa

By Musician 1st Class Joseph Schoonmaker

The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s brass band, “Topside,” just returned from a six-week deployment to the Gulf of Guinea aboard USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS). The deployment took us to Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde, each country providing unforgettable opportunities to make connections with people from all walks of life, with diverse cultural backgrounds, using the universal language of music.

ROTA, Spain (July 2, 2019) The Spearhead-class expeditionary transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) departing Rota, Spain for an Africa Partnership Station deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

The purpose of this deployment was to strengthen partnerships and demonstrate U.S. commitment to West African partners. The mission focused on small boat maintenance, maritime law enforcement, Navy medicine, and community relations outreach, with embarked teams from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard as well as Sailors from the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish navies.

“Topside” is a traditional “New Orleans-style” brass band. We take great pride in the diversity of music we represent, and in preparation for our performances in Africa, we tried to learn at least one song from each country on the deployment schedule. We do this to demonstrate respect for their culture and to grow as musicians. It also opens the door to collaborating with local musicians, creating unique moments in live performances. We have found audiences from Italy to Latvia to West Africa to be very appreciative that we have invested the time and energy to engage with their music. When we visit countries where language provides a barrier to interaction, music acts as an international language. With the connection of music, the band helps build true and lasting partnerships. As I like to say during concerts and workshops, we are not there to impose our culture but rather to offer a true exchange where each side learns and grows.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 9, 2019) – Musicians from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band Topside perform with local musicians during an Africa Partnership Station community engagement at the Blaise Senghor Regional Culture Center of Dakar, Senegal. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

We met the USNS Carson City in Dakar, Senegal. At the U.S. Embassy’s 4th of July celebration, we were joined onstage by the popular djembe drummer “Papis.” We also enjoyed a collaborative performance with musicians, dancers, and actors from the National School of Arts, during which they taught us a Senegalese folk song. Our African music education became a theme and the key to our relationships during APS. Prior to the trip, we learned “Conquer the World” by Youssou Ndour featuring Akon. We used both songs throughout the deployment. The highlight event in Dakar was a concert at the African Renaissance Monument during the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. The crowd, watching the matches on a big-screen TV, joined us for a rousing rendition of “7 Nation Army,” which is used worldwide as a stadium chant, just as Benin won a penalty shootout. The energy was electric and created a truly memorable experience for the band and the crowd.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 4, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, performs during a 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, July 4, 2019. The NAVEUR Band supports commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa/Joint Forces Command Naples, and commander, U.S. 6th Fleet priorities, which serve to enhance international community relations among partner nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

The next leg of the trip was in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. For our performances and radio interviews, the band was accompanied by two French-speaking U.S. Navy Sailors with local connections. The diversity of the band provided us with an opportunity for genuine local interaction. One of the Sailors, a naval reservist who grew up in Abidjan, taught us an Ivorian folk melody. We played it for the radio shows as well as live audiences. The students from the University of Felix Houphouet Boigny gave us one of the most enthusiastic receptions we’ve ever seen, singing, dancing, and chanting, “USA! USA!”

ABIDJAN, Cote D’Ivoire (July 16, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside”, is interviewed by local media during a tour of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) while the ship is in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)
ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 17, 2019) – Lt. Lynda Amegee, from Lome, Togo, dances while U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, performs during an audio recording for Al Bayane 95.7 FM radio station in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)
ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 18, 2019) – The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band New Orlean’s brass band, Topside, performs alongside a child during a community relations project at the SOS Children’s Village Abobo Gare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

Our next stop, Sekondi, Ghana, offered further proof of West African hospitality with a welcome party featuring Ghanaian bands accompanied by traditional dancers, gifts of soccer-style scarves, and a red, white, and blue cake. We teamed up for a reggae jam session with a Ghanaian Navy Band in Tema, having a musical conversation. Previously, while underway from Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana, we learned a folk melody from several Ghanaian Sailors who joined Carson City for a few days. As with each country on this trip, audiences immediately recognized the tune and sang along. The music not only brings the musicians together but also, through dancing and singing, encourages the relationships of the other APS crew members with our host-nation partners.

SEKONDI, Ghana (July 21, 2019) Chief Musician Justin Belka, a trumpeter for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, plays alongside the Ghanian band Rhythm 360 while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in Sekondi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)
TAKORADI, Ghana (July 22, 2019) – Takoradi residents dance as the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), parades through the streets of Takoradi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

Nigeria brought a welcomed return to Lagos for our band, as we had previously visited during exercise Obangame Express, a large collaborative naval exercise in March of this year. During that exercise, we were introduced to Freedom Park, a special place in the life of the city. We thought it would be a great place to perform, not knowing we would get that opportunity just five months later. Our Nigerian song of choice was “Water No Get Enemy” by afro-beat legend Fela Kuti. Rehearsal leading up to our first performance had a different energy as everyone understood the significance of playing the music of such a significant cultural icon as Fela Kuti, while in the very place he had cultivated a following that would eventually spread throughout Africa and the world. Even understanding the significance of the moment, we could have never imagined the reaction we received. The audience practically jumped out of their seats when we hit the first note! The next day, we performed the same song on Silverbird TV, reaching millions of viewers in and beyond Lagos. Playing Fela Kuti in that city and getting that reaction was a special, unforgettable moment in our musical careers. This demonstrates the power and impact of maintaining relationships with our partners. Our previous trip to Nigeria served to enhance our visit during APS.

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 28, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) performs at Johnson Jakande Tinubu Park in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)
LAGOS, Nigeria (July 30, 2019) – Band members from U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), perform as musical guests on the television show “Today on STV” at SilverbirdTV in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

Cabo Verde closed out the deployment for us. We were privileged to play “Sodade,” a beautiful Cabo Verdean ballad, outside the municipal market in downtown Mindelo. The band played softly and let the crowd carry the tune. It was a special moment and a wonderful reflective way to close out our time in Africa. It was the last in a series of outstanding, often unscripted, shared experiences that served as the lasting hallmarks of our deployment.

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), performs on the streets of Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)
MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside” performs during a media tour on the flight deck of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

All told, we performed 40 times for live and broadcast audiences exceeding 15 million. The social media impact has been significant and is, in fact, ongoing. This mission was a pitch-perfect example of what Navy bands are capable of and how they can contribute to broader goals of the Navy and the United States. On a personal note, this deployment has been the highlight of my career thus far and an experience for which I am profoundly grateful.

SPECIAL REPORT: HURRICANE DORIAN

Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas Sept. 2 as a powerful Category 5 hurricane, with winds up to 185 mph and gusts about 220 mph. As reports show extreme devastation in the Bahamas, Dorian has been moving closer to Florida, potentially nearing Georgia and South Carolina. The storm has weakened since hitting the Bahamas but it’s still dangerous.

For the U.S. Navy, safety and security of personnel and families is the top priority. Navy installations, Navy Recruiting Stations and Navy Operational Support Centers are getting prepared for the arrival of the storm. The Navy also has units in a “prepared to deploy” status should the Northern Command request support for response and relief efforts.

Follow this blog for frequent news updates, videos and images showing the latest efforts of the Navy to brace for Dorian. For more images, visit our feature gallery

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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 4, 2019) A GOES 16 infrared satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean shows Hurricane Dorian at 1:00 a.m. EDT, Sept. 4, 2019, as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph moving northwest at 6 mph near Daytona Beach, Florida. Dorian is expected to maintain its current intensity through Thursday and move northward along the Florida coast toward Georgia and the Carolinas. (U.S. Navy photo via Naval Research Laboratory/Released)
BAHAMAS (Sept. 3, 2019) Overhead view of a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton.)
BAHAMAS (Sept. 3, 2019) Views of the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton.)

MAYPORT, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2019) A line of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters evacuate from Naval Station Mayport as ordered by, Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic, after the setting of Sortie Condition Alpha ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. (Official U.S. Navy photo/Released)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Sept. 1, 2019) Sailors secure U.S. Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters after arriving at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, from Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, Florida, Sept. 1, 2019. The helicopters evacuated from the Jacksonville area in advance of Hurricane Dorian. In addition to the helicopters, Maxwell AFB is serving as an Incident Support Base for Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Logistics Agency personnel and equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Billy Birchfield/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) make preparations for Hurricane Dorian at Naval Station Mayport, Aug. 30, 2019. Iwo Jima is currently at homeport conducting a maintenance availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Larry Lockett Jr./Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) departs Naval Station Mayport as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders all U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) heave in a line as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie on Aug. 30 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) gets underway from Naval Station Mayport as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders all U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla (Aug 29, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) make preparations for Hurricane Dorian at Naval Station Mayport August 29, 2019. Iwo Jima is currently at her homeport conducting Chief of Naval Operations Maintenance Availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Travis Baley/Released)
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NORFOLK, Virginia (NNS) — Hampton Roads-based ships and aircraft are leaving the area today, as Hurricane Dorian is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Read more on Navy.mil

Navy Prepares for Hurricane Dorian in Hampton Roads

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet ordered all U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the Hampton Roads area to be prepared to transit to safety within 24 hours, if necessary, as a precautionary measure due to the approach of Hurricane Dorian, thereby setting Sortie Condition Bravo. Read more on Navy.mil

Maxwell Opens for Hurricane Support

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Hurricane Dorian: Evacuation of Military Personnel and their Families

NAS JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) — As Dorian progresses toward the Southeast United States, many Navy Sailors and civilians are wondering when they should evacuate. The simple answer is that the parent command must determine whether personnel and family members should evacuate. Read more on Navy.mil

 

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Videos

Helicopters Evacuate Naval Station Mayport Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

MAYPORT, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2019) MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 48 as they prepare to depart Naval Station Mayport. Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic ordered aircraft at Naval Station Mayport to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian. Dorian is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast.  

 

Ships Depart Naval Station Mayport, Florida Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Footage of ships homeported at Naval Station Mayport undergoing preparations to sortie as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie Aug. 30 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic where they are best postured for storm avoidance.

 

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SPECIAL REPORT: HURRICANE DORIAN

Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas Sept. 2 as a powerful Category 5 hurricane, with winds up to 185 mph and gusts about 220 mph. As reports show extreme devastation in the Bahamas, Dorian has been moving closer to Florida, potentially nearing Georgia and South Carolina. The storm has weakened since hitting the Bahamas but it’s still dangerous.

For the U.S. Navy, safety and security of personnel and families is the top priority. Navy installations, Navy Recruiting Stations and Navy Operational Support Centers are getting prepared for the arrival of the storm. The Navy also has units in a “prepared to deploy” status should the Northern Command request support for response and relief efforts.

Follow this blog for frequent news updates, videos and images showing the latest efforts of the Navy to brace for Dorian. For more images, visit our feature gallery

Top Images

Next Prev
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 4, 2019) A GOES 16 infrared satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean shows Hurricane Dorian at 1:00 a.m. EDT, Sept. 4, 2019, as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph moving northwest at 6 mph near Daytona Beach, Florida. Dorian is expected to maintain its current intensity through Thursday and move northward along the Florida coast toward Georgia and the Carolinas. (U.S. Navy photo via Naval Research Laboratory/Released)
BAHAMAS (Sept. 3, 2019) Overhead view of a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton.)
BAHAMAS (Sept. 3, 2019) Views of the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton.)

MAYPORT, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2019) A line of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters evacuate from Naval Station Mayport as ordered by, Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic, after the setting of Sortie Condition Alpha ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. (Official U.S. Navy photo/Released)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Sept. 1, 2019) Sailors secure U.S. Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters after arriving at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, from Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, Florida, Sept. 1, 2019. The helicopters evacuated from the Jacksonville area in advance of Hurricane Dorian. In addition to the helicopters, Maxwell AFB is serving as an Incident Support Base for Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Logistics Agency personnel and equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Billy Birchfield/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) make preparations for Hurricane Dorian at Naval Station Mayport, Aug. 30, 2019. Iwo Jima is currently at homeport conducting a maintenance availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Larry Lockett Jr./Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) departs Naval Station Mayport as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders all U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) heave in a line as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie on Aug. 30 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) gets underway from Naval Station Mayport as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders all U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla (Aug 29, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) make preparations for Hurricane Dorian at Naval Station Mayport August 29, 2019. Iwo Jima is currently at her homeport conducting Chief of Naval Operations Maintenance Availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Travis Baley/Released)
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2nd Fleet Ships, Aircraft Depart Dorian’s Path; Installations Continue Preparations

NORFOLK, Virginia (NNS) — Hampton Roads-based ships and aircraft are leaving the area today, as Hurricane Dorian is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Read more on Navy.mil

Navy Prepares for Hurricane Dorian in Hampton Roads

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet ordered all U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the Hampton Roads area to be prepared to transit to safety within 24 hours, if necessary, as a precautionary measure due to the approach of Hurricane Dorian, thereby setting Sortie Condition Bravo. Read more on Navy.mil

Maxwell Opens for Hurricane Support

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Alabama (NNS) — At the request of the Department of Homeland Security, through U.S. Northern Command, Maxwell Air Force Base opened Aug. 29 as an Incident Support Base in advance of Hurricane Dorian. Read more on Navy.mil

Hurricane Dorian: Evacuation of Military Personnel and their Families

NAS JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) — As Dorian progresses toward the Southeast United States, many Navy Sailors and civilians are wondering when they should evacuate. The simple answer is that the parent command must determine whether personnel and family members should evacuate. Read more on Navy.mil

 

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Videos

Helicopters Evacuate Naval Station Mayport Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

MAYPORT, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2019) MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 48 as they prepare to depart Naval Station Mayport. Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic ordered aircraft at Naval Station Mayport to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian. Dorian is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast.  

 

Ships Depart Naval Station Mayport, Florida Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Footage of ships homeported at Naval Station Mayport undergoing preparations to sortie as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie Aug. 30 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic where they are best postured for storm avoidance.

 

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SPECIAL REPORT: HURRICANE DORIAN

Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas Sept. 2 as a powerful Category 5 hurricane, with winds up to 185 mph and gusts about 220 mph. As reports show extreme devastation in the Bahamas, Dorian has been moving closer to Florida, potentially nearing Georgia and South Carolina. The storm has weakened since hitting the Bahamas but it’s still dangerous.

For the U.S. Navy, safety and security of personnel and families is the top priority. Navy installations, Navy Recruiting Stations and Navy Operational Support Centers are getting prepared for the arrival of the storm. The Navy also has units in a “prepared to deploy” status should the Northern Command request support for response and relief efforts.

Follow this blog for frequent news updates, videos and images showing the latest efforts of the Navy to brace for Dorian. For more images, visit our feature gallery

Top Images

Next Prev
NORFOLK (Sept. 4, 2019) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) gets underway from Naval Station Norfolk after Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet ordered U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the area to depart, Sept. 4, 2019, ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua M. Tolbert/Released)
NORFOLK (Sept. 4, 2019) The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) departs Naval Station Norfolk after Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet ordered U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the area to depart, Sept. 4, 2019, ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are directed to areas in the Atlantic where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary A. Prill/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 4, 2019) A GOES 16 infrared satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean shows Hurricane Dorian at 1:00 a.m. EDT, Sept. 4, 2019, as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph moving northwest at 6 mph near Daytona Beach, Florida. Dorian is expected to maintain its current intensity through Thursday and move northward along the Florida coast toward Georgia and the Carolinas. (U.S. Navy photo via Naval Research Laboratory/Released)
BAHAMAS (Sept. 3, 2019) Overhead view of a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton.)
BAHAMAS (Sept. 3, 2019) Views of the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton.)

MAYPORT, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2019) A line of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters evacuate from Naval Station Mayport as ordered by, Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic, after the setting of Sortie Condition Alpha ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. (Official U.S. Navy photo/Released)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Sept. 1, 2019) Sailors secure U.S. Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters after arriving at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, from Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, Florida, Sept. 1, 2019. The helicopters evacuated from the Jacksonville area in advance of Hurricane Dorian. In addition to the helicopters, Maxwell AFB is serving as an Incident Support Base for Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Logistics Agency personnel and equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Billy Birchfield/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) make preparations for Hurricane Dorian at Naval Station Mayport, Aug. 30, 2019. Iwo Jima is currently at homeport conducting a maintenance availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Larry Lockett Jr./Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) departs Naval Station Mayport as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders all U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) heave in a line as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie on Aug. 30 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) gets underway from Naval Station Mayport as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders all U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic Ocean where they are best postured for storm avoidance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon/Released)
MAYPORT, Fla (Aug 29, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) make preparations for Hurricane Dorian at Naval Station Mayport August 29, 2019. Iwo Jima is currently at her homeport conducting Chief of Naval Operations Maintenance Availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Travis Baley/Released)
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News Stories

Navy Evacuates Five North Carolina Counties, Warns Units Statewide to Expect High Winds (Sept. 4, 2019)

NORFOLK, Virginia (NNS) — The Navy issued an emergency evacuation order Sept. 4 for all Navy personnel and dependents in five North Carolina counties, in advance of the arrival of high winds and heavy rain expected from Hurricane Dorian. Read more on Navy.mil

2nd Fleet Ships, Aircraft Depart Dorian’s Path; Installations Continue Preparations (Sept. 4, 2019)

NORFOLK, Virginia (NNS) — Hampton Roads-based ships and aircraft are leaving the area today, as Hurricane Dorian is forecast to bring high winds and heavy rain to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Read more on Navy.mil

Navy Prepares for Hurricane Dorian in Hampton Roads (Sept. 3, 2019)

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet ordered all U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the Hampton Roads area to be prepared to transit to safety within 24 hours, if necessary, as a precautionary measure due to the approach of Hurricane Dorian, thereby setting Sortie Condition Bravo. Read more on Navy.mil

Maxwell Opens for Hurricane Support (Sept. 3, 2019)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Alabama (NNS) — At the request of the Department of Homeland Security, through U.S. Northern Command, Maxwell Air Force Base opened Aug. 29 as an Incident Support Base in advance of Hurricane Dorian. Read more on Navy.mil

Hurricane Dorian: Evacuation of Military Personnel and their Families (Sept. 2, 2019)

NAS JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) — As Dorian progresses toward the Southeast United States, many Navy Sailors and civilians are wondering when they should evacuate. The simple answer is that the parent command must determine whether personnel and family members should evacuate. Read more on Navy.mil

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Videos

Ships Depart Naval Station Norfolk Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

NORFOLK (Sept. 4, 2019) U.S. Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) depart Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, with other ships

2nd Fleet Orders Ships to Sea ahead of Hurricane Dorian

NORFOLK (Sept. 4, 2019) Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships and aircraft in the area to sortie on Sept. 4 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rains to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic where they are best postured for storm avoidance.

Helicopters Evacuate Naval Station Mayport Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

MAYPORT, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2019) MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 48 as they prepare to depart Naval Station Mayport. Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic ordered aircraft at Naval Station Mayport to sortie ahead of Hurricane Dorian. Dorian is expected to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast.  

Ships Depart Naval Station Mayport, Florida Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2019) Footage of ships homeported at Naval Station Mayport undergoing preparations to sortie as Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet orders U.S. Navy ships homeported in the area to sortie Aug. 30 ahead of Hurricane Dorian, which is forecasted to bring high winds and heavy rain to the East Coast. Ships are being directed to areas in the Atlantic where they are best postured for storm avoidance.

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Department of Navy, SUNY Team up Against Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Carr
DON-SAPRO PAO

The Department of the Navy is hosting its first joint Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, in partnership with the State University of New York, on September 5, 2019 in Manhattan.

The one-day conference follows the inaugural National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies, held at the United States Naval Academy in April. The event was comprised of leaders and experts from public, private, and government-run educational institutions who shared best practices to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The Honorable Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, will join SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina M. Johnson in opening the event, geared toward prevention strategies, as well as program evaluation and data collection. More than 250 attendees have registered for the Discussion.

Secretary Spencer said sexual assault and sexual harassment endangers everyone, both inside the military and out. “We all have the responsibility, and the capability, to confront this behavior,” Spencer said. “I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity I can to change the culture and win this fight.”

All four military academy leaders will join the Secretary at the Regional Discussion, and will participate in a Leadership Forum panel. This panel will include Rear Adm. William G. Kelly, superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy; Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria, superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy; Vice Adm. Sean S. Buck, superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point; as well as Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime College.

Keeping with the regional conversation, East Coast experts in sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention programs will also lead panel discussions at the conference, including Dr. Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office in Alexandria, Virginia; Elizabeth Brady, project director of sexual and Interpersonal Violence Prevention at SUNY; Dr. Sarah McMahon, director, Center of Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University in New Jersey; and Sharyn Potter, executive director at Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Elizabeth (Elise) P. VanWinkle, executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency for the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will lead a keynote panel, “Promoting a Culture of Change through Data.” She will discuss the role of data and how an in-depth understanding of metrics can guide efforts to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from America’s colleges, universities and service academies.

Melissa Cohen, Director of the Department of the Navy’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Office, said a regional focus will allow the military and academic community to narrow the scope of joint efforts, primarily through shared experiences on topics like data collection and ways to effectively measure prevention programs, and find meaningful, effective solutions together.

“We want to sustain the momentum we have created with the academic community, who share our desire to end sexual assault and sexual harassment on our nation’s campuses, military service academies and within our communities,” she said. “At this event, we can learn from each other, and work together to eliminate these criminal and destructive behaviors. We must give our focused attention in this topic, and be willing to try new approaches to stop sexual assault and sexual harassment. We’ve been asked to continue the conversation, and we are responding.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Martha McSally has expressed her gratitude for continuing the national discussion on sexual assault ahead of the upcoming first joint Regional Discussion.

For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Robert Carr, DON-SAPRO Public Affairs Officer, at 703-693-2954 or carr.robert@navy.mil.