Tag Archives: United States Navy

Media coverage of USS George HW Bush

Well its been a hectic couple of days here in Portsmouth, with 6,000+ US Sailors in town. I’ve collected some of the media coverage for you all, whether you be families stateside or just general ship nerds such as myself!

BBC News – USS George HW Bush anchors off Portsmouth (inc video)

BBC News – USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier crew in Portsmouth

Portsmouth News – It’s party time as 6,000 US sailors descend on the city

Portsmouth News – US invasion of the city begins

War on Terror News

And I’ve found some youtube clips from people who managed to get out on the boat trips. As you can see, it was a rough one!

The guys and girls from the Bush have made a lot of friends in Portsmouth, its been a great PR exercise for the US Navy. There’s been no hint of trouble, and all of the shop and barworkers are amazed at being called ‘sir’ and ‘maam’ all the time! Me and Sarah had a couple of drinks at Tiger Tiger at Gunwharf Quays, and one of the sailors showed us a new cocktail – black vodka, monster and coke – looks foul but tastes pretty good!

Oh, and lets not forget the Spaniards – they’ve been walking around in full uniform, including bobbles on hats and Hornblower style boat cloaks!

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USS George HW Bush in the Solent

Unfortunately due to time and weather I haven’t been able to get out to have a look at the Bush close up, but here are some pics taken from Stokes Bay, about a mile away:

If anybody – partricularly anyone stateside with folks on the Bush – would like any larger hi-res pics, please let me know.

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USS Bush arrives in the Solent tomorrow

Stokes Bay, England (Apr. 6, 2005) - The Nimit...

A Nimitz Class Carrier in the Solent (Image via Wikipedia)

After a long wait, the USS George HW Bush arrives in the Solent early tomorrow morning.

At 7am she will begin moving from the Nab Tower area towards Spithead. She will arrive at Charlie Anchorage off Stokes Bay at 0830.

Her escorts meanwhile – the US Destroyer USS Truxtun and the Spanish Frigate SPS Almirante don Juan de Borbon – begin sailing from the Nab to Outer Spit Boy at 0745. They should pass the Round Tower at around 0845 and 0900 respectively. The Truxtun will be mooring at Middle Slip Jetty and will be visible from the Gosport Waterfront, while the Borbon will be on North Corner Jetty – visible from up the Harbour, including on top of Portsdown Hill for those with decent lenses.

Meanwhile HMS Westminster and HMS Dauntless, who have been on exercise with the US and Spanish ships, will be arriving at about 0915 and 1015 respectively.

Later in the day the supply ship RFA Fort Austin will be leaving for a refit on Birkenhead. She will be leaving under tow, and should pass the Round Tower at about 1345.

Wondering where all these places are? Click here.

All in all a very busy day in Pompey, and an excellent time to go on a harbour tour, as we have all three Type 45′s in, a US Arleigh Burke, and a Spanish Alvaro de Bazan.

If anyone stateside is worried about security of the US ships, I’ll quote this from the Queens Harbour Master of Portsmouth:

  1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth that between 27 and 31 May 2011 a nuclear powered military warship will conduct a formal visit to Portsmouth. During this period, the nuclear vessel will be anchored at “C Anchorage” in the Central Solent.
  2. Mariners are advised that the nuclear vessel is deemed to be “a vessel constrained by her draught” as defined under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS Rule 3(f) and 18) and is to be considered a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway (COLREGS Rule 9) at all times when underway within the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth.
  3. Mariners are further advised that LNTM 07/11 (Dormant Exclusion Zone for Underway Warships) will be activated for the entry and departure of the nuclear vessel. In summary all vessels except those involved in the escort are to remain 250 metres clear of the nuclear vessel whilst it is underway. VTS Southampton, acting with QHM’s authority, will direct commercial traffic to keep outside this zone. Warning broadcasts will be made on VHF Channels 11, 12 and 16 as appropriate and the escort vessels will show blue flashing lights.
  4. Whilst at anchor there will be a 250 metre Exclusion Zone in place around the nuclear vessel, which will be enforced by Ministry of Defence Police. Only vessels authorised by QHM will be allowed to enter this zone.
  5. For the duration of the visit, miscellaneous service craft will be berthed alongside the nuclear vessel and mariners passing C Anchorage should amend their passage plans to ensure they avoid the restricted area. Vessels navigating in the vicinity are to maintain a listening watch on VHF and are to be aware of the effects of their wake and are to reduce speed accordingly.

And here’s some coverage in the local press:

The Yank’s are coming!

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Exercise Saxon Warrior

The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN...

The USS Bush underway (Image via Wikipedia)

Exercise Saxon Warrior has kicked off in the South West and Wales, and the news reports have started to come in.

This is from the MOD:

Exercise SW11 is a joint UK / US Navy exercise supported by NATO allies and will provide continuation training to the USS George H W Bush Carrier Group during its visit to UK prior to deployment to support operations in Afghanistan. SW11 is being conducted 19-26 May 2011. The Exercise has been planned by RAF and Naval personnel from the Joint Tactical Exercise planning Staff (JTEPS) based at Northwood HQ, London. They are augmented by additional service personnel to provide an appropriate level of specialist support and to assist with exercise safety.

The JTEPS aim is to provide coordinated training for the USS George H W Bush Carrier Group, all 3 UK Armed Services and the participating forces from allied nations.

The USS George H W Bush is the tenth and final Nimitz Class supercarrier of the United States Navy. Displacing in excess of 100,00 tons and with a top speed of over 30 knots, the USS George Bush carries an Air Wing comprising some 44 FA-18 Strike Fighters (C/E/F Supers), 5 FA-18G Electronic Warfare Fighters, 4-5 E-2 Hawkeyes, and 7 MH-60 helicopters. The Carrier Group is conducting operational work up training while en route to support operations in Afghanistan.

The fast jets (FJ) embarked in the USS George H W Bush Carrier Air Wing together with aircraft from the UK and other NATO Air Forces will be training together across the UK daily. Due to Op ELLAMY commitments UK participation is reduced and includes VC10 AAR and E3D. Allied and visiting air participants include NATO E3A, and Super Etendard FJ and Atlantique II Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from France. It is planned to fly approximately 60-90 combat and support missions per day on day and night sorties throughout the period. Limited night / weekend flying will be undertaken 21-22 May by the USS George H W Bush Carrier Air Wing, which will operate throughout the period in the South Western Approaches and Western English Channel.

SW11 will see participation from 26 separate naval units from UK, US, Spain, Germany and Sweden. The USS George H W Bush Carrier Strike Group comprises the carrier itself and its escorts, including the cruiser USS Gettysburg, and the destroyers USS Truxton and USS Mitscher. The aim for these units is to build upon basic maritime skills and learn to operate in an allied and multinational context.

A variety of UK and Allied Land forces including SF, 1 Division and 3(UK) Division (supported by maritime and air participants) will conduct Core Military Training and Mission Specific Training (MST) for OP HERRICK deployment at both Castlemartin and Pembrey Air Weapons Ranges, Salisbury Plain Training Area and at sites across Wales, capitalising on the training opportunities afforded by this joint activity. This training will fully utilise Defence Training Estate range areas, commercial ranges and private land areas.

More here, and more here, including some photos of jets.

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USS Samuel B. Roberts

USS Samuel B Roberts

USS Samuel B Roberts

The Sherman was shortly followed by the Oliver Hazard Perry class Frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts. The Roberts is quite a famous ship, having hit a mine during the US Navy‘s involvement in the Iran-Iraq War – a conflict that I wrote about recently during a book review.

It says a lot about the construction of the Perry class that the Roberts not only survived the mine strike, but was then lifted home on a ship transporter, and after 13 months of repairs was back in service in time to take part in the Gulf War in 1990!

Theres obviously a lot to be said for finding that point where affordability and capability co-align. If a Ticonderoga or an Arleigh Burke had hit a mine, a major unit would have been out of action. By the same token, is there any sense in sending a £1bn+ vessel to conduct routine patrols where the mk1 eyeball is the most used piece of technology? It takes me back to the old days of Mike Burleson and New Warshull numbers DO matter!

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USS Forrest Sherman

USS Forrest Sherman

USS Forrest Sherman

USS Forrest Sherman, a US Navy Arleigh Burke class Destroyer, seen coming into Portsmouth Harbour – conveniently during my lunch hour!

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Kiel Week – Germany’s Navy Days/Cowes Week/Boat Show

F221 Hessen "open ship" during the K...

FGS Hessen during Kiel Week 2007 (Image via Wikipedia)

Regular readers will be well aware that I was slightly disappointed with Navy Days this year – no major warships, no foreign warships, sadly a bit of a damp squib. Of course, its east to understand why we didnt have any carriers or assault ships there – Invincible in mothballs, Illustrious and Bulwark in Refit, Ark Royal, Ocean and Albion on exercise in the US – but why no visitors from overseas? Its almost unheard of.

When I was browsing on Seawave’s archived list of Port Visits, I stumbled upon a large gather of German and foreign warships in Kiel in Germany every June. With a bit of digging, it transpires that this is Germany’s answer to Navy Days, Cowes Week and the Southampton Boat Show rolled into one. Sounds like quite some event! It started in the early twentieth century, when Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to imitate the traditional British event of Cowes Week, combined with displays of German naval might.

Every year the US Navy in Europe organises a series of exercises in the Baltic, known as BALTOPS (Baltic Operations). A large contingent of US vessels take part, and of course other NATO and non-NATO countries, and after the exercise has finished most of the visitors call into Kiel Week. These are the ships that were at Kiel Week this year:

Germany: FGS U-24 (Submarine), Sachsen (Frigate), Frankfurt Am Main (auxiliary), Bayern (Frigate), Ammersee (Tanker), Fehmarn (Tug), Spiekeroog (Tug), Lutje Horn (tug).
Russia: RFS Kaliningrad (landing ship)
Denmark: HDMS Viben, Glenten, Svanen (patrol vessels), Thyra, Alholm, Ertholm (sail training ships), Budstikken (patrol ship)
Poland: ORP Kaszub (corvette)
US: USS Mount Whitney (HQ Ship), Simpson (Frigate), Stephen W. Groves (Frigate)

The year before in 2009 there was an even bigger turn-out -

Latvia: LVS Virsaitis (minelayer)
Germany: FGS Gorch Fock (tall ship), Frankfurt An Main (auxiliary), Lachs (landing craft), Wische (auxiliary), Spiekeroog (tug), Mosel (auxiliary), Rhein (auxiliary), Oker (electronics ship), Frankenthal (minehunter), Bad Rappenau (minehunter), Kulmbach (minehunter), Auerbach (minesweeper), Ensdorf (minesweeper), Passau (minehunter), Spessart (tanker), Uberherrn, Laboe (minehunters), Siegburg (minesweeper), Herten (minesweeper), Puma, Nerz, Zobel (attack ships), Hameln (minesweeper), Elbe (auxiliary), Bottsand (oil recovery ship), Eisvogel (tug), Langeness (tug), Lutje Horn (tug), Sylt, Karlsruhe (Frigate)
Russia: RFS Kaliningrad (landing ship)
Denmark: HDMS Budstikken, Sabotoren, (patrol ships) Ertholm, Alholm (sail training ships), Ebsern Snare (Frigate), Thyra, Svanen, (sail training ships) Havkatten, Makrelen, (patrol/MCMV) Glenten (patrol vessel), Peter Tordenskhold (corvette)
Lithuania: LTNS Suduvis (minesweeper)
France: FS Pegase (minesweeper), Sagittaire (minesweeper)
Finland: FNS Hamina, Hanko (fast attack craft)
Poland: ORP Jamno (minesweeper)
Netherlands: HNLMS Zeeleeuw (submarine), Maasluis, Haarlem (minehunters) Mercuur (torpedo recovery ship), Van Kinsbergen (training ship)
Britain: HMS St Albans (Type 23 Frigate)
US: USS Mount Whitney (HQ Ship), USS Forrest Sherman (Destroyer)

It makes for an interesting comparison indeed. This year at Navy Days we had two Destroyers, three Frigates, one hospital ship, one minesweeper and a landing craft. All from the Royal Navy. Of course, if theres a big event on, such as a Fleet Review, then there are more ships in for Navy Days. Plymouth Navy Days always seem to have more ships – probably because the authorities know that there is nothing else to see in Plymouth, whereas in Portsmouth the Historic Dockyard is also a pull. On the other hand, Plymouth frequently hosts foreign warships for Operational Sea Training and the Thursday wars.

Another example of how the Royal Navy could do with being a bit more savvy – if you want to put on a good Navy Days, try organising an exercise just before or after, and theres more chance that people will turn up because there will be something new and interesting to see.

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Port Visits – useful website

HMS Diamond in the Clyde. Radar and gun fitted.

HMS Diamond at the builders yard (Image via Wikipedia)

I’ve stumbled on a pretty interesting website, called Port Visits. I can see it being one of those websites that I frequently visit!

Some intrepid person has taken it upon themselves to compile a website of warship movements around the world, from virtually every navy on the seas. Its interesting to see what’s going on around the world – courtesy visits, exercises, reviews, for example. Theres always a lot going on at Plymouth – because its the base for Royal Navy Operational Sea Training (FOST). Foreign warships call in too, such as this Monday coming the German FGS Bayern (Brandenburg class Frigate), FGS Hamburg (Sachsen class Frigate), FGS Berlin (auxiliary) and the Dutch HNLMS De Ruyter (De Zeven Provinicen Class Frigate). I’ve got to admit, I wouldn’t mind getting some pictures…

The US Navy survey ship USNS Henson is calling in to Portsmouth, as well as the British Hospital ship RFA Argus. On Wednesday the third Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Diamond, arrives in Portsmouth for the first time. The Portsmouth based Type 42 Destroyer HMS Manchester is calling in at St Kitts and Bermuda in the Carribean on Disaster relief duties during the Hurricane season (no doubt keeping an eye out for drug runners too).

Further afield, theres a big fleet review taking place at Valparaiso in Chile for the 200th anniversary of the Chilean Navy. Britain is represented by HMS Portland, the Plymouth based Type 23 Frigate. She’ll be meeting up with her old Type 23 sister ships, Almirante Condell, Almirante Cochrane and Almirante Lynch. Also attending are ships from Argentina (GC Mantilla, patrol ship), Brazil (Barroso, Corvette), an un-named ship from Iran, Canada (HMCS Protecteur, auxiliary; and HMCS Algonquin, Iroquois class Destroyer) and the US Navy (USS Jarrett, Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigate). The presence of an Iranian warship will be interesting, alongside the US Navy, and also a Royal Navy ship taking part in a review alongside an Argentinian vessel. It also shows how times have changed – whilst the UK and Chile have long been allies, Chile and Argentina have always had a difficult relationship, but at present are enjoying cordial relations.

Further into the future, you can see what port visits are scheduled in the long term – Chinese warships visiting Sydney sometime in September, Japanese ships visiting Jakarta, China and South Korea, USS Mount Whitney calling in at Murmansk, and so on. Its really useful, because port visits in Portsmouth – and a lot of places nowadays, I suspect – only get announced a day or two before they take place.

Another very useful resource, is that you can dig back through the archives back to January 2000, to see whats been going on over time. I’ve found it really interesting seeing what ships arrived in Portsmouth for the International Fleet Review in June 2005. There was also quite a big event at Kiel in Germany that month too, with ships from the Royal Navy, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Russia, France, Egypt, Latvia, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Holland, Canada and the US.

O.K., call me a warship nerd!

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Fast jet flying club?: the perspective from across the pond

Last week I looked at the backgrounds of the UK Armed Forces chiefs of staff over the past 20 or so years, and what effect this might have on the outlook of their service.

The conclusion was, largely, that the RAF’s high command has been overwhelmingly been in the hands of former fighter pilots, while no officers with a background in the more humdrum fields of logistics or battlefield support have made it to the top of the tree.

By contast, Royal Navy and Army Chiefs of Staff seem to have had a more diverse background, both individually and in terms of the different people who have risen to the top of the pack.

But are these trends unique to the UK, or do they transcend national barriers? As a bit of a comparison, I thought I would take a look at the equivalent commands in the US. The findings are pretty interesting to say the least.

US Air Force

The US Air Force’s career structure is uncannily similar to that of the RAF – Fighter pilots are very much the top dogs. Apparently Norton Schwartz’s appointment as Chief of Staff was made deliberately to buck the trend, as the Secretary of Defence was keen to have someone other than a Fighter Pilot in command. The main difference with the RAF is that senior officers in the US Air Force have the opportunity of more ‘star’ commands before reaching Chief of Staff level, whether they be functional home commands of the command of air components in joint combat commands.

Norton Schwartz – Airlift (mainly C-130), US Transportation Command

Michael Moseley – Fighters (F-15 Eagle), Central Command Air Forces

John Jumper – Fighters (F-4 Phantom), Airlift (C-7 Caribou), US Air Forces Europe, Central Command Air Forces

Michael Ryan – Fighters (F-4 Phantom), US Air Forces Europe

Ronald Fogleman – Fighters (F-100 Super Sabre), US Transportation Command, Deputy Commander Korea

Merrill McPeak – Fighters (F-100 Super Sabre, F-104 Starfighter, F-4 Phantom), Southern Command Air Forces

Michael Dugan – Fighters (F-100 Super Sabre), Attack (A-1 Skyraider), US Air Forces Europe

Larry Welch – Fighters (F-4 Phantom), Strategic Air Command

Charles Gabriel – Fighters (F-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre), US Air Forces Europe

Lew Allen – Bombers (B-29 Superfortress, B-36 Peacemaker), Air Force Systems Command

US Navy

US Navy Chiefs of Staff have a broadly diverse experience base. Most have commanded a number of ships, and the modern trend is for former Destroyer and Cruiser Captains. For a Navy based on the power of the supercarrier, very few have actually commanded a carrier, although some have commanded Carrier Battle Groups. During the Cold War aviators and submariners were in a prominent position.

Gary Roughead – Destroyer (USS Barry), Cruiser (USS Port Royal), George Washington Carrier Battle Group, US Pacific Fleet

Michael Mullen – Tanker (USS Noxubee), Destroyer (USS Goldsborough), Cruiser (USS Yorktown), George Washington Carrier Battle Group, US Second Fleet

Vern Clark – Gunboat (USS Grand Rapids), Destroyer (USS Spruance), Destroyer Squadrons, Carl Vinson Carrier Battle Group, US Second Fleet, US Atlantic Fleet

Jay Johnson – Naval Fighters (F8- Crusader, F-14 Tomcat), Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group, US Second Fleet

Jeremy Boorda – Minesweeper (USS Parrot), Frigate (USS Farragut), Saratoga Battle Group, US Naval Forces Europe

Frank Kelso – Submarines (USS Finback, USS Bluefish), US Sixth Fleet, US Atlantic Command

Carlisle Trost – Submarines, US Seventh Fleet, US Atlantic Fleet

James Watkins – Destroyers, Cruisers, Submarines, Sixth Fleet, Pacific Fleet

Thomas Hayward – Naval Fighters, Aircraft Carrier (USS America), US Seventh Fleet, US Pacific Fleet

James Holloway – Naval Fighters (F-9 Panther), Attack (A-4 Skyhawks), Aircraft Carrier (USS Enterprise), US Seventh Fleet

US Army

US Army Generals also come from a broad experience base, both as individuals and as a group. Unlike the British Army, where an officer stays within his Regiment until reaching ‘star’ rank, in the US Army it is not unknown for officers to transfer frequently, and hence gain experience in more than one arm. As in the British Army, it is not unknown for an infantryman to command an Armoured Division, for example. It is also noticeable that more US Generals appear to have Airborne, Ranger and Air Assault qualifications, even if they have not served in the relevant units. Commanders in Vietnam usually became Chief of Staff of the Army, probably due to the profile and experience that the war in South East Asia gave them.

George Casey – Rangers/Mechanized Infantry, 1st Armoured Division, Multi-National Force Iraq

Peter Schoomaker – Armoured Cavalry/Special Forces, Delta Force, US Special Operations Command

Eric Shinseki – Infantry/Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, Seventh US Army

Gordon Sullivan – Armour, 1st Infantry Division, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations and Plans)

Carl Vuono – Artillery, 8th Infantry Division, Training and Doctrine Command

John Wickham – Infantry/Airborne, 101st Airborne Division, US Forces Korea

Edward Meyer – Armoured Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations and Plans)

Bernard Rogers – Infantry, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) Division, US Army Forces Command

Frederick Weyand – Artillery/Intelligence, 25th Infantry Division, II Field Force (Vietnam), Military Assistance Command (Vietnam), US Army Pacific

Creighton Abrams – Armour, 3rd Armoured Division, V Corps, Military Assistance Command (Vietnam).

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