Seven in Seven


The Navy kicked off the month by kicking pirate butt in three foiled attacks. The stories that nabbed most other headlines this week included the Nuclear Posture Review, which was all the talk in the beltway; F-35 training, which continues despite problems getting the jets; the Fire Scout, which scored its first drug bust;  the smoking ban on subs and the Navy’s decision to restrict the wear of ball caps and coveralls.

Here’s seven stories in seven minutes from the past seven days that you may not have seen, but are worthy of notice:


Capt. Steve Koehler, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship Bataan, greets family members following Bataan's return to Naval Station Norfolk.

1. Nearly 1,100 Sailors and Marines attached to the amphibious assault ship Bataan returned to Norfolk April 3 following 10 weeks supporting Operation Unified Response in Haiti.

And they got it done!

The crew transported nearly 1,000 pallets of relief supplies, brought 97 patients to Bataan and transported 524 others to the Navy hospital ship Comfort, the carrier Carl Vinson and hospitals throughout Port-au-Prince. The medical team provided triage for some 2,000 patients ashore and immunized nearly 10,000. The crew also removed 150 tons of rubble, built 65 shelters for 130 families and distributed more than 500,000 meals.

Said Capt. Steve Koehler, Bataan’s commanding officer:

I can’t imagine a crew doing it any better. We flexed the ship’s capabilities at every opportunity and were fortune to witness first-hand the difference we made in the lives of the Haitian people.”

You can read more about their mission here.

2. The frigate McClusky left more than a few drug dealers gasping for air as it returned to San Diego April 5 after six months in the 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility. The crew seized or disrupted more than 11 metric tons of cocaine, with an estimated street value of more than $775 million, and detained 13 suspected narcotic smugglers.

3. The carrier Stennis returned home from after 21 days of carrier qualifications. It will now be in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for the next several months for a $137 million overhaul. The Navy says it will have extensive work on propulsion and aircraft launch and recovery systems. Radar and communications systems will be upgraded.

4. The Navy on April 3 took top honors at the National Society of Black Engineers Golden Torch Awards.

Capt. Willie L. Metts, who is soon to pin on his first star, was recognized as the society’s Distinguished Engineer of the Year at the organization’s 13th annual convention in Toronto, Canada. Metts, who is the Navy’s highest-ranking African-American Information Warfare officer, said he was uniquely humbled and honored to be recognized.

5. Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7‘s Air Detachment spent the week improving roads and installing engineering controls to improve living conditions for the more than 40,000 residents of Camp Petionville, an internally displaced persons camp in Port-au-Prince.

Lt. Jason Killian, a Civil Engineer Corps officer deployed to JTF-Haiti, said the efforts “will save lives and reduce the overall number of people that need to be relocated by over 17,000.”

No wonder they call them the “Magnifiscent Seven.” Here’s more on their endeavors.

6. The Naval Research Laboratory broke ground April 8 on the Autonomous Systems Research Laboratory. The $17.7 million facility will be the nerve center for basic research that supports autonomous systems research for the Navy and Marines. It will focus on several key areas to include power and energy, sensors, intelligent autonomy and platform development.

The nearly 50,000 square-foot lab will be located at NRL Washington, D.C. and should be completed by May 2011.

7. And a special salute goes to Fire Controlman 2nd Class Dustin Kilgore, who saved a boy from drowning April 4.

Kilgore, stationed on the Norfolk-based cruiser Monterey, heard a scream and splashing coming from a large canal and pond outside his apartment. A woman yelled that her nephew was in the water and couldn’t swim.

Kilgore jumped in the murky pond and began swimming to the boy, about 300 feet away. By the time he reached him, the boy had sunk to the bottom. Kilgore began to search the area, and soon his foot touched the boy. Kilgore pulled him 75 feet to a concrete ramp and started CPR. The boy soon had a pulse, and was breathing on his own not long after paramedics arrived.

Bravo Zulu to all!


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.

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