Tag Archives: navy

Navy Ship Removal from Philippine Reef Proves Damaging

The USS Guardian has finally been removed from a protected coral reef in the South Western Philippines. The last large portion of the U.S. Navy minesweeper was removed on Saturday as a crane lifted the 250-ton stern of the USS Guardian. The USS Guardian has been stuck on the Philippines Reef since January 17th.

The USS Guardian was reportedly on its way to Indonesia when the incident occurred. After a refueling break in Subic Bay of Manila, USS Guardian strayed more than three miles into an off-limits area located offshore just before it hit the coral reef.

The damage that the USS Guardian caused to the protected coral reef is still under examination as Naval officials stated. The final assessment of damage will be determined this week by a team of American and Filipino experts. A fine will be paid by Washington to heal these costly wounds and repair relationships with American allies of Asia.

The Philippine reef that was damaged is located about 400 miles southwest of Manila. As a World Heritage site of UNESCO, the reef is protected as part of the Tubbataha National Marine Park in the Sulu Sea. The initial damage was estimated to cover about 4,000 square meters of the coral reef and, according to Tubbataha Park’s superintendent Angelique Songco, the estimate should be fairly accurate.

Songco stated that the fine would be roughly $600 per square meter that would add up to a $2 million fine for the United States. The fine would be given to a fund to help the reef rehabilitate its currently damaged areas.

Although the Philippine government has not agreed to terms with the U.S. government, the Philippine Secretary indirectly responded to questions concerning the reef: “There must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws.” The fines and policies that have been in place will take precedence in this situation.

The U.S. and Navy Ambassador of Manila, Harry K. Thomas, has apologized for this accidental situation and continually promises to cooperate with damages and relationships. USS Guardian’s mangled parts will be taken to a Navy facility located in Sasebo, Japan, where the scraps will be separated into reusable materials and scrap metal.

USS Cowpens Joins San Diego Fleet after Navy Crew Swap in Japan

The two guided missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Cowpens were involved in a Navy crew swap at Yokosuka base in Japan. The crew swap that occurred on Tuesday will leave the U.S. Navy fleet of Asia with a better, updated missile defense system according to Navy officials.

The crew swap means that USS Cowpens will be leaving Japan to sail to San Diego where its future is not definite. USS Antietam will be staying in Yokosuka, Japan where its new overhaul will prove to be an asset to the Asian Naval fleet.

According to Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, commander of Yokosuka’s Commander Task Force, both crews of the Antietam and Cowpens have been planning for months for this hull swap. Montgomery was proud to see these sister ships docked side-by-side for the big switch.

The two Ticonderoga-class ships are around the same age (20 years old) however their current situations couldn’t be any more different from one another. Their appearance is similar but when you look inside, USS Cowpens is brewing with maintenance and repair problems. USS Antietam received major overhaul repairs ensuring more capacity against ballistic missiles, more efficient attack strategies, and newly installed electrical upgrades.

The U.S. Navy is unsure whether the budget can afford to repair USS Cowpens. In 2012, USS Cowpens was among seven cruisers to be selected by Navy leaders to be decommissioned. It was also chosen as one of four to leave the fleet entirely in 2013.

The Congress decided not to decommission USS Cowpens under the conditions that it would cost more to build new ships than to repair the existing cruisers. In the near future, USS Cowpens could be facing deployment once it joins the San Diego fleet. USS Cowpens is still operating and ready to serve our Navy.

Navy Budget Cuts Threaten 6,000 Local Jobs in San Diego

Up to 6,000 San Diego jobs may be on the chopping block this year due to Navy budget cuts and a failure to pass the Defense Appropriations Bill, which will leave the U.S. Navy to work with last year’s budget.

The San Diego Military Advisory Council has made some grim predictions for San Diego’s economy. The shortfall of more than $4 billion within the operations budget will result in the cancellation of ship repairs, aircraft maintenance, and a job slash for next to half the workforce involved in San Diego’s shipyard industry.

Larry Blumberg, executive director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, said, “When you take $219 million out of the economy by the cancellation of ship availability, that doesn’t go into San Diego’s economy.” According to an announcement from the U.S. Navy on Friday, the $219 million cut will delay the repairs on 10 surface ships and $83 million on aircraft maintenance in San Diego.

The Naval ships that will not be receiving maintenance will include the destroyers, Benfold, Sampson, Russell, Higgins, and Gridley, the amphibious vessels Peleliu, Rushmore, and Green Bay, and the mine-countermine warships Devastator and Pioneer.

Along with the cuts in ship maintenance, three additional projects will be put on hold: the $76 million barracks, a $59 million training center, and a $2.5 million helicopter simulator facility in Coronado.

If legislators in Washington don’t come to an agreement and pass the Defense Appropriations Bill, automated cuts to defense spending will begin on March 1st. Over the next 10 years, around $600 billion will be cut from the budget. In San Diego, one out of every four jobs is linked to government spending. The Military Advisory Council said that a systematic decrease in funds would result in furloughs and a 20% pay cut for 25,000 Defense Department civilian employees.

If Congress doesn’t start negotiating for a bigger Navy budget, San Diego will see these predictions become a reality:

  • A cancellation in 4,000-5,000 ship maintenance jobs between the months of April and September
  • Job loss among 3,000 civil servants and 500 contractors at the Naval Air Station North Island aviation depot
  • Cuts in Defense Department employment resulting in loss of 1,600 jobs and an enactment of a hiring freeze

Let’s hope that Congress settles the uncertainty of the budget cuts so that we can protect our Naval community in San Diego from unemployment and a drooping economy.

Navy’s Public Service Announcement Shares Dangers of Bath Salt Usage

Navy PSA

The war against bath salts continues. The U.S. Navy is broadcasting a new Public Service Announcement to help combat the usage of the extremely dangerous drug, bath salts.

The Navy’s new PSA is mildly disturbing with a raw and graphic 6-minute clip that portrays the effects of bath salts through the eyes of a sailor. The PSA is called “It’s not a Fad. It’s a Nightmare.” and shows a sailor ingesting bath salts resulting in hallucination side effects that make him believe his girlfriend and roommate are demonic. The sailor is then rushed to the hospital where he is treated for bath salt side effects.

The dangerous side effects can be both physical and psychiatric from seizures and heart attacks to auditory and visual hallucinations. The worst of all bath salt side effects is death. The U.S. Navy wants to prevent sailors from this synthetic drug and ensure that their work lives and love lives are not affected by bath salt usage.

The Naval Medical Center in San Diego’s Lieutenant George Loeffler has seen many cases of bath salt usage and is featured in the Naval PSA. Lt. Loeffler had this to say about the dangers of synthetic “designer” drugs: “First of all these are substances that have never been tested on human beings. Most often haven’t been tested on animals either. Furthermore, it’s not a single substance, it’s actually a class of substances. You have no idea what you’re getting, what amount you’re getting, and we don’t know what effects that they have on human beings.”

The Navy still stands by their zero tolerance towards drug usage and this does include bath salts. Approximately 90 sailors from San Diego based Naval ships were kicked out of the Navy for using “designer” drugs, the Navy is hoping to bring awareness to the dangers of bath salts and try to encourage sailors to stay away from the substance. Continual testing is still being researched and fine-tuned for bath salts and spice.

Below is the Navy PSA regarding bath salts. Beware, this video is graphic!

San Diego Expects Warship Essex for Repairs and Upgrades

The amphibious warship Essex, also known as “Iron Gator,” will be moving from its station in Japan to San Diego in the very beginning of the new year for a huge maintenance overhaul.

Originally, Essex was expected to arrive at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego this year but the date had to be rescheduled.

Essex has been a tremendous strength to the U.S. Navy and has become the most high-profile asset of the Navy in Asia. The Essex was asked to stay in Asia after its scheduled departure during the time of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in April.

The 844 foot Iron Gator will be released from humanitarian relief duties in February and will be coming to San Diego for a dry dock overhaul. The Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center will be taking a year to plan the Essex’s overhaul and the exact dates of repair. As of right now, the dry dock in San Diego NASSCO will be unavailable until the end of October.

The ship that will be bringing relief to Essex is also a very special Navy ship. The San Diego-based Bonhomme Richard will be performing a hull swap in which the sailors of Essex will continue their deployment in Japan with the Bonhomme Richard and the sailors of Bonhomme Richard will stay stationed in San Diego.