The Navy nabbed a lot of headlines again this week. Leading the way is news that the Green Hornet on Thursday took to flight – the fighter jet, not the super hero. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was powered by a 50/50 blend of biofuel and JP-5.
That same day, a U.S. military jury cleared a Navy SEAL of failing to prevent the beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding a 2004 attack that killed four American security contractors. Two others will soon have their day in court.
And on Wednesday, the Navy implemented its first change in 17 years to the Defense Department’s much-debated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Here’s seven stories in seven minutes from the past seven days that you may not have seen, but are worthy of notice:
1. Mayport carrier move delayed. Rep. Glenn Nye, D-Va., on Thursday said the Navy has delayed the move of an aircraft carrier from Norfolk, Va. to Naval Station Mayport, Fla. Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on Thursday confirmed the same. The earliest the move will occur is now 2019, five years later than earlier predictions, according to the congressman. Nye said Navy officials informed him of the change during a visit to Mayport this week.
The Navy has not officially chimed in, and Florida lawmakers won’t take this sitting down. The carrier would bring thousands of jobs and $500 million in annual revenue – which is why Virginia has a death grip on its five flat tops.
2. Past meets present. April 16 was a day when hope and history shared the same waters at Naval Submarine Base New London, in Groton, Conn.
The day opened as sailors assigned to the Pre-Commissioning Unit Missouri raised colors for the first time aboard Missouri, the seventh Virginia-class attack submarine. The crew moved aboard and began bringing the sub’s systems to life. Known as “In Service Day,” the 134 officers and sailors accepted day-to-day operations of the sub, as well as its safety and security. The crew also began preparations for sea-trials, work-ups and eventual commissioning, scheduled for July 31.
The same day, the attack submarine Philadelphia entered the base having completed its 16th and final deployment. The third Los Angeles-class attack sub, Philadelphia was commissioned June 25, 1977, and is scheduled to be decommissioned June 25. It conducted more than 1,00 dives and received eight Battle E’s in its 33 years of service.
3. On a mission of Mercy. The Navy announced this week that the hospital ship Mercy will leave San Diego May 1 for a series of humanitarian missions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The deployment is part of the “Pacific Partnership 2010” mission.
The ship, an 894-foot oil tanker that was converted into a floating hospital, will carry a contingent of military medical, dental and engineering personnel and civilian volunteer specialists. It is equipped with a helicopter flight deck, specialized laboratories, 12 operating rooms, an 80-bed intensive-care unit and enough beds to house 1,000 patients.
The ship’s crew treated more than 90,000 patients during the four-month “Pacific Partnership” deployment in 2008.
4. War games and war blames. Iran launched large-scale war games in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, holding the military exercises earlier than usual after the country’s leaders expressed concerns that the U.S. has made a veiled nuclear threat against the Islamic Republic.
Tehran was angered by President Obama’s new nuclear policy in which he pledged America would not use atomic weapons against nations that do not have them. Iran and North Korea were excluded from the non-use pledge, and Iranian leaders took that as an implicit threat.
Iran has been holding military maneuvers, dubbed as “The Great Prophet,” in the strategic waters annually since 2006 to show off its military capabilities.
Earlier in the week, the Defense Department’s Military Power Report on Iran outlined the possibility that Iran could, “with sufficient foreign assistance … probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”
The report, mandated as part of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act enacted last fall, was to provide Congress and the Obama administration with an assessment of the Iranian regime’s current and future military strategy.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., ranking Republican on the committee, said the report “failed to include information that is critical to truly assessing Iran’s military capability and future intentions.”
In addition to my concerns about what is not included in the report, I’m bothered by the administration’s attempts to downplay Iran’s militant ideology in the report. I question the department’s assessment that the goal of the Iranian strategy is ‘the survival of the regime’ and its ‘ideological goals have taken a back seat to pragmatic considerations.’ This flies in the face of the regime’s efforts to export the Ayatollah’s radical religious vision beyond Iran’s borders.”
5. San Diego welcomes Freedom. The littoral combat ship Freedom completed her maiden deployment and arrived in San Diego Friday.
Freedom departed Mayport, Fla., Feb. 16 for operations in the U.S. 4th Fleet and U.S. 3rd Fleet Areas of Responsibility. The crew made four successful drug interdictions that netted more than five tons of cocaine, seized two “go fast” drug vessels and took nine suspected smugglers into custody.
Freedom also became the first LCS to integrate with a carrier strike group for high-speed operations, re-fueling at sea and surface gunnery events.
6. Bravo Zulu! Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 on April 16 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island from missions in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Djibouti.
It was no walk in the park. EOD and counter-improvised explosive device teams conducted more than 1,122 missions, defeated more than 452 IEDs and disposed of more than 34,825 pounds of homemade explosives, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war. They also cleared 8,988 miles of key routes on more than 300 route clearance patrols.
Said EODMU 11 Command Master Chief (EWS/PJ) Stacey McClain:
They saved countless lives. There’s really no way to put a number on how many lives their contributions actually saved for the guys out in the field, but it’s definitely really an accomplishment.”
7. Give that kid some celery! And, last but not least, check out this group of retired officers who announced that school lunches are making America’s kids too fat for the military.