Tag Archives: Naval Base San Diego

Closing Commissaries in 2015 Hurts San Diego Military Families

Pentagon leaders have been trying to comply with the mandatory budget cuts and a possible solution to save money is a closure of all U.S. military commissaries in 2015. Military commissaries provide groceries and household items to active duty troops and retirees at a 30 percent discount.

In San Diego County alone there are six commissaries, including one of the top stores in overall revenue in 2010.

Due to the major cost-cutting 2011 Budget Control Act, defense officials are looking at a $50 billion annual budget cut for the next decade. Pentagon spokeswoman Joy Crabaugh reported, “The secretary of Defense has made it clear on numerous occasions that all cost-cutting efforts need to be on the table.”

United States commissaries receive $1.4 billion in government subsidies, allowing them to mark up groceries 5 percent. Of the total 178 commissaries, there are six in San Diego County. Two are located on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, one is at the North Island Naval Air Station, another is at the Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach, one is at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and an additional commissary is at the Naval Base San Diego. Last year alone these commissaries generated around $260 million in sales.

In addition to military members and families depending on U.S. commissaries for household goods and groceries, approximately two-thirds of commissary employees are military spouses, family members or veterans.

Decisions will be made soon in regards to the 2015 federal budget. The Obama administration will release the final verdict in January or February, which will conclude the debate over commissary closures.

Photo Credit: Ernesto Andrade

USS Higgins Returns to Homeport in San Diego after Deployment

USS Higgins (DDG 76) will be returning to San Diego today, October 7, 2013. The guided-missile destroyer has completed a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

During its deployment, USS Higgins plays a major part in operations with the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, participated in many exercises, and conducted maritime presence operations with allied nations.

With a crew of more than 250 Navy sailors, USS Higgins visited Palau, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Guam, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Pearl Harbor.

Among USS Higgins other courageous duties, the ship made a port visit to Nagoya, Japan, where sailors of USS Higgins helped clean the grounds and interact with children at an orphanage. USS Higgins also stopped in Thailand where they volunteered to help build a school that had been damaged by a recent tropical storm.

Along with the 250 crewmembers on USS Higgins, three separate midshipmen groups from the U.S. Naval Academy and other universities joined the Higgins’ crew at different ports throughout their deployment as part of their summer training programs.

Commanding Officer of USS Higgins, Commander Nicole L. M. Shue, shared her thoughts regarding their deployment, “I am continually grateful for the effort my crew displayed this deployment. The dedication and professionalism they put forth daily reaffirms their commitment to their country and the naval service. They have worked incredibly hard, and we are looking forward to reuniting with our loved ones back here in San Diego.”

Let us welcome the heroic crew of USS Higgins back to San Diego safe and sound! Here is a homecoming video of the USS Higgins pulling into the San Diego Bay in 2010:

Photo Credit: Naval Surface Warriors

USS Rentz leaves San Diego on 7-Month Anti-Drug Mission

The U.S. Navy frigate Rentz pulled out of San Diego Naval Base on Thursday, July 25 for a seven-month deployment to patrol the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean. Known for its contributions towards Operation Martillo, the crew of USS Rentz will continue to fight against drug traffickers and stop the flow of narcotics through this water passage.

Operation Martillo is a multinational act to reduce the amount of trafficking along coastal waters in Central America. The main mission of the Rentz will be to increase security within the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific waters and disrupt channels of narcotics and human trafficking.

Commanding officer of the Rentz, Commander Lance Lantier, shared his thoughts on the Rentz deployment: “It’s a very good mission, and we’re very good at it. It’s an extremely busy stretch of water.” Commander Lantier and his crew are not strangers to this area; this is their second deployment of this nature.

There will be a special drug interdiction team on the Navy ship, which will consist of the “Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team that will support the Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment. Another huge contributor to the team on USS Rentz is the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49, which is based at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado.

Frigate Rentz will also be participating in the 2013 multinational UNITAS maritime exercise in September. The exercise is an honor to attend and will be off the coast of Colombia in the South Caribbean. Other participants will be from Naval branches in Colombia, Honduras, Chile, Brazil, Peru, England, the Dominican Republic, and Canada.

Photo Credit: Marion Doss

U.S. Navy Ships Come & Go from San Diego Bay: USS Decatur & USS Preble

The San Diego Bay is continuing to see a lot of Naval vessels coming and going from its large Naval base. The U.S. Navy’s USS Preble is a guided-missile destroyer that deployed from San Diego on Friday. Headed to the Western Pacific, USS Preble has a crew of 30 officers and 270 enlisted personnel.

Although there was a little uncertainty about the ship’s deployment due to sequestration budget cuts, the 510-foot USS Preble was approved for deployment and the crew was ready to go.

Commander Kurt M. Sellerberg of the Preble added, “The crew trained hard over the past year and is very much looking forward to executing the mission on deployment.”

While USS Preble is entering its deployment, its sister ship USS Decatur just returned to San Diego on Friday from its deployment in the Western Pacific. The USS Decatur accomplished a lot during its 8-month deployment in the Middle East and Western Pacific. With a crew of 33 officers, 39 petty officers, and 210 enlisted personnel, USS Decatur entered its deployment on August 17th when it had departed San Diego Bay.

USS Decatur is a guided-missile destroyer that worked to strengthen relationships of local mariners in order to maintain open shipping lanes, according to Naval officials. Helping to keep these sea lanes open is pertinent to keeping a steady line of trade with one of the world’s largest oil suppliers.

USS Decatur was welcomed back to San Diego on Friday, its tremendous hard work and dedication to the U.S. Navy was recognized as the ship pulled up to port.

Photo Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Honorable Kiss Statue Replacement Returns to San Diego Navy Pier

A work of art was delivered to San Diego’s coastline! With much anticipation, the “Kiss” statue is more than a recognizable sculpture; it’s a tribute to the historical end of World War II.

The statue captures the exact moment that the end of WWII was announced in New York, where a Navy sailor grabbed a nurse and kissed her when the news broke that Japan would surrender to the end of the war.

The original statue that graced San Diego’s coastline was called “Unconditional Soldier.” The 6,000 pound sculpture was created by J. Seward Johnson, an 82 year-old Navy veteran who had loaned his sculpture to San Diego from 2007 to 2011. The locals of San Diego fell in love with the “Unconditional Soldier” so they raised donations to make a bronze replica of the original.

The new and improved sculpture arrived in San Diego on Monday and was permanently installed on Wednesday. The new sculpture is made of bronze and was paid for with private donations. The original sculpture is comprised of a foam core and urethane outer layer that is extremely susceptible to weather damage.

The original 25-foot tall sculpture is currently in New Jersey undergoing restoration. It is now owned by the Santa Monica-based Sculpture Foundation.

A ceremony was held on Saturday to honor the new 25-foot-tall bronze statue. The “Salute to Heroes” festival was held on Saturday at 11 a.m. across from the Navy Pier at the G Street Mole. The festival included an unveiling ceremony of the stoic statue in addition to a presentation of the new cherry trees donated by San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden Society. Many couples renewed their vows in front of the statue as well including many WWII veterans.

The mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner also attended the Saturday ceremony where he talked about the statue being a constant reminder of the help needed with today’s honorable men and women that serve our country. Overall, this bronze statue is a powerful keepsake of honor, pride, and sacrifice that we shall never forget.