Author Sam Fellman

Chalk it up as another win for the Navy’s band of botanists. Two rare and long-imperiled plants that subsist only on San Clemente Island are returning from the brink of extinction after decades under the threat of bombs, shelling, SEAL raiders and especially feral goats. The San Clemente Island lotus and paintbrush are numerous enough that the Fish and Wildlife Service downgraded their status from endangered to threatened in a July 25 announcement, which credited the Navy for their comeback. San Clemente, the most southern of the Channel Islands off southern California, is an uninhabited and oft-bombarded isle used in…

As many in the fleet found out last week, the Navy is serious about penny-pinching. The Navy’s No. 2 officer ordered all commanding officers and senior enlisted to stop using appropriated money to purchase command coins, those treasured tokens that are practically synonymous with command. It also bars them from buying plaques, ball caps and other souvenirs given to sailors and civilians alike. To be sure, skippers can still use official representation funds, earmarked for banquets, or pay out of their own pocket. Not surprisingly, the Navy’s cutbacks have made command coin dealers gloomy about sales through the rest of…

The Navy fired the executive officer of a San Diego-based beachmaster unit on Thursday for sending inappropriate text messages and emails to two female sailors at his command. Cmdr. Allen Maestas, the XO of Beachmaster Unit 1, was removed by Capt. Kevin Flanagan, the head of Naval Beach Group 1. At mast, Maestas was found guilty of violating a lawful order, conduct unbecoming and fraternization, Naval Surface Force Pacific said Thursday. The messages were “inappropriate and unprofessional and did not respect the senior-subordinate relationship,” said SURFPAC spokesman Lt. Rick Chernitzer, who said he did not have access to the emails…

Looking to make a cool $5,000? That’s the cash prize for the best writing in the U.S. Naval Institute’s new essay contest, open only to those currently serving in the military. The contest is seeking papers, 3,000 words or shorter, that address how the U.S. and its allies can better share missions and technology, a topical theme now that budget strain is forcing the Pentagon to shelve lower-priority programs and deployments. “Papers will consider the opportunities, advantages and challenges,” USNI said in its March news release. “Contestants will be urged to consider historical examples and relate them to future scenarios.”…

Forbidden love, Navy-style, just got its torch song. A former sailor has recorded his bawdy and facetious take on romantic tensions between enlisted guys and female officers on a ship, accompanying it to acoustic guitar. “So what if you’re an O-2 and I’m an E-3/Does that mean we can’t be involved romantically?” sings Logan Vath, a former aerographer’s mate 2nd class turned singer-songwriter, in a YouTube video uploaded Jan. 5. “They say age is just a number/Well rank is just a number too.” With pregnant pauses and innuendo, “The Fraternization Song — Navy Humor” skews into the ribald like an…

Disclaimer: don’t try this at home. Which is exactly what one sailor did. After news reports that the blue-and-gray Navy Working Uniform will burn rapidly and melt in a fire, one person decided to see for himself. On his dining room table. “I wanted to see if the NWU would really catch fire,” the sailor explained in the caption of his YouTube video, which was posted on Dec. 27. “I held the match in place for about three seconds.” He set the lower edge of his NWUs alight and filmed the results, a do-it-yourself test that paralleled the findings of…

The sharpest exchange in the Oct. 22 presidential debate centered on the size of America’s Navy. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee and former Massachusetts governor, highlighted the shrinking size of the fleet, noting it was now the smallest it has been since World War I, a point he has brought up often on the stump. That brought a retort from his opponent. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” President Obama replied in the final debate, which focused on foreign policy and during which the president strove to paint his…

While Navy officials deal with the latest collision, the warship struck in the previous one is headed home. Destroyer Porter passed through the Suez Canal on Oct. 12 on its way home to Norfolk, Va. The impact from its August collision with a supertanker crumpled the ship’s starboard side just in front of the superstructure. The impact smashed the starboard break, a passageway on the weatherdecks, tore open a hole above the waterline and ruptured internal pipes and cables. Seen from the bridge, it appeared as though the supertanker Otowasan’s bow bit off a chunk of the destroyer’s side. That…

Sailors have chosen esteemed figures, from master chiefs and admirals to astronauts and pro football players, to reenlist them. That circle now includes an Elvis impersonator. Electronics Technician 1st Class (SS) George Melton, a 26-year-old and self-described Elvis fan, was enlisted Sept. 1 by an Elvis look-a-like at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, in what may be the fleet’s first re-enlistment by an Elvis impersonator. “I have always been a fan of Elvis,” said Melton, who serves on the attack submarine Missouri and is coming up on his seven-year mark, according to a Navy Newsstand story. “I have read a…

Seeking to cut the tally of fired commanders whose behavior has embarrassed the service and raised questions about how they were selected for the service’s most prestigious positions, the Navy’s top officer has tightened the standards for command and ordered a pilot study of an evaluation that allows sailors to rate their own bosses. The end goal is officers better suited for command. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert spelled out his plan in a June 4 instruction that overhauls the command screening process and applies it fleetwide. By June 4, 2013, every new CO will have to go…

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