Author Gidget Fuentes

On a cloudy but humid tropical day, several dozen sailors, donning crisp uniforms, gathered on aircraft carrier Carl Vinson’s port side elevator No. 4 as the ship maneuvered in the waters of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. On a table covered with a blue cloth sat urns of different sizes and colors – 43 in all – carrying the cremains of former service members and military spouses. The honor platoon and rifle platoon lined up for the burial-at-sea ceremony on Dec. 27. With calm winds and flat seas, a trio of chaplains with the ship and Carrier Strike Group 1…

There is just something about Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training that is, well, photogenic. The grueling, six-month training course at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif., is no vacation at the beach. Mother Nature at times makes it much more interesting. With ocean temperatures in the mid-60s – that’s relatively mild for the Pacific Ocean along Southern California – the chill isn’t as much a worry as the surf itself, as what students with Class 286 encountered during “surf passage” training Oct. 27. It’s known as “surf torture” for good reason.   

On any given day, the Navy’s EOD sailors are deployed in just about every geographical command – and it’s not just Iraq or Afghanistan where explosive ordnance disposal technicians are putting their expertise to save lives and limbs. This week, one-quarter of the nearly-2,600 member EOD force is deployed, according to Navy Expeditionary Combatant Command, with EOD mobile and naval mobile diving and salvage units teams and platoons operating in Southern, Central, European, Africa and Pacific commands. EOD sailors also are participating in the biennial “Rim of the Pacific” exercises off Hawaii, joining in maritime security operations, disarming underwater mines…

This photograph – of amphibious assault ship Peleliu’s mascot showing off some of his (or her?) latest dance moves to the amazement of school children in Timor-Leste – arrived in Scoop Deck’s inbox this week. For the scores of high-res photos that jam our mail servers, this one provided a sunny break from all things haze gray and underway. The Peleliu Gator, as the mascot is called, has entertained crowds at college football games and homecomings, but on this deployment it reached out to young children at schools and orphanages in community service projects. Peleliu and her San Diego-based crew…

    You gotta love competition. When Northrop Grumman on Dec. 16, 2008, unveiled its sleek X-47B unmanned bomber – officially, it’s UCAS-D or Unmanned Combat Air Systems-Demonstrator – the stealth-like sleekness of its batwing shape garnered oohs and aahs from the crowd at its manufacturing plant in Palmdale, Calif. The innovative aircraft could be the Navy’s first unmanned aircraft to take off and land on an aircraft carrier at sea. But after initial taxi tests, it still awaits its inaugural flight.  This week, another defense giant, Boeing Defense Space & Security, unveiled its unmanned prototype called Phantom Ray during…

    Talk about concentrated power. The folks at San Diego-based 3rd Fleet this week posted this photograph of three Nimitz-class aircraft carriers (yes, that’s the “68” of Nimitz in the middle, nestled between Carl Vinson, at top, and Ronald Reagan, at bottom) nestled at the berths at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, Calif. It’s not the first time North Island has supported three aircraft carriers – it was more common in the conventional days – and for a short time after 9/11 it even hosted four carriers. But with the Navy’s busy training and operational tempos, it’s…

It’s the rare space shuttle that doesn’t shoot toward space without the Navy aboard in some form or fashion. Monday’s predawn launch of Space Shuttle Discovery – officially it’s STS-131 mission – from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center came with two military officers at the helm, including shuttle commander and Navy Capt. Alan G. Poindexter, 49, along with pilot, Air Force Col. James P. Dutton, Jr., 41. The seven-member crew, which includes three women, is on a 13-day mission and the 33rd shuttle trip to the International Space Station. Poindexter, a veteran F-14 Tomcat and test pilot, joined NASA in 1998,…

The Drug Buster could be a moniker for the San Diego-based frigate McClusky, which has nearly cornered the market among the gray hulled fleet over the years during deployments while cruising off the coasts of South and Central America. The ship’s crew  is preparing to depart for yet another counter-drug deployment on Oct. 5, taking along some SH-60B Seahawk helicopters and a law enforcement team from the Coast Guard, who largely lead the take-down, chase-down, maritime interdiction missions at sea. The “Mighty Mac” has collected its share of drug busts when it heads to sea on such deployments to support…

Local fishermen in search of some record large-mouth bass in a San Diego-area lake last winter found something else on their electronic fish finder: A World War II carrier bomber. A cursory look determined the airplane is a Curtiss SBC2 Helldiver, a daring dive-bomber that apparently had made an emergency landing into Lower Otay Reservoir, southeast of San Diego,  during a bombing test run on May 28, 1945, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The Navy had bought more than 7,000 of the Helldiver, which joined with the better-known Douglas SBD Dauntless on bombing runs during the Pacific theater campaigns in the…

  It’s probably a good thing that NASA’s pool of astronauts include quite a few military officers. Who better to understand the “hurry up and wait” lifestyle that is the military? We told you last month about preparations for the planned June 13 launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, whose seven-member crew of space sailors, including only the second Navy SEAL to ever venture into space, will do a 16-day mission that will haul parts of Japan’s Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station. But hydrogen leaks in a gas vent line leading to the exterior fuel tank forced NASA…

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