Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

Tensions between the US and Russia and increasing activity in the Arctic have drawn more attention to the countries’ otherwise quiet boundary in the high north.

The Bering Strait, between Alaska and Russia’s Far East, has long been an area of low tension and cooperation on matters like waterway management and fisheries enforcement. But expectations of increased commercial and military activity in the Arctic have raised the strait’s strategic profile.

“The Northwest Passage and the Northern Passage all link through one strategic waterway in the West, and that’s through the Bering Strait,” retired US Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser said at a Wilson Center event in October, referring to sea routes along the northern coasts of Canada and Russia, respectively.

Russia is modernizing its military, and the rejuvenation of its submarine fleet in particular has drawn US military attention back to the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap, through which Russian navy ships would need to pass to strike targets at sea in the Atlantic or in the US and Europe.

US Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, top, and Russian-flagged tanker Renda cut through ice in the Bering Sea, January 7, 2012. US Coast Guard/P01 David Mosley

“The issues that we’re facing and talking about in the GIUK Gap, you need to be very cognizant that they could also appear in the Bering Sea,” added Fraser, who led Alaska Command in the mid-2000s.

Fraser is not alone in that assessment. At a Senate hearing in March, the Navy’s top officer, Adm. Michael Gilday, said he expected the Bering Strait to be “strategically as important as the Strait of Malacca or the Strait of Hormuz.”

The US military has been active in those straits for years, but its activity in and around Alaska is increasing.

In May 2019, a Navy aircraft carrier joined the Northern Edge exercise in the Gulf of Alaska for the first time in decade; months later, the Navy returned to Adak Island, in Alaska’s Aleutian Island Chain, for another exercise.

Adak was home to a sprawling Navy base that closed in the 1990s, but Navy officials have discussed again using it for aerial patrols. The Navy’s longstanding Arctic submarine exercises have also taken on new relevance.

Adak Island hosted a Navy base until its closure in 1997. It now is the site of a commercial airport. 
Google Maps

“I think we ought to pay a lot of attention to the Aleutians,” Fraser said at the October event. “They provide, really, a string across the approaches into the Bering, and as more and more strategic activity happens … through the northern approaches, the Aleutians are going to be a strategic and key terrain.”

The Air Force and Space Force will be “key contributors” to addressing issues that arise in the region, Fraser said.

The Air Force has the US military’s largest presence in the Arctic, where it works with Canadian forces on airborne early-warning operations, including intercepting Russian bombers that approach US airspace. That presence will grow as the Air Force adds more F-35s to its bases in Alaska.

Other service branches want to increase their training in Alaska, and lawmakers have pushed for more investment there.

The US Army Corps of Engineers recently approved plans to expand the port of Nome, on Alaska’s Bering coast. That “will not only help from a national-security perspective but … help [local communities] to reduce the cost of living,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said at another event in October.

‘Not so much about signaling’

A naval tactical assault force lands on the coast of the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East, August 2020. 
Russian Ministry of Defense

Russia’s Far East and Arctic regions are sparsely populated, and after the Cold War the military infrastructure there deteriorated, but Moscow is refurbishing those facilities.

“The physical proximity to both Canada and Alaska … makes the Far Eastern flank of the Arctic as … important to the Russians as the European flank, or NATO flank, of the Arctic,” Alexey Muraviev, head of the Department of Social Sciences and Security Studies at Australia’s Curtin University, told Insider this summer.

The work includes expanding and upgrading airfields to handle strategic bombers and support all-weather operations, though Russia is “mindful of China” and concerns it may have about such activity near their shared border, Muraviev said.

Russia has renovated Arctic bases to support maritime operations along the Northern Sea Route and added new radars and other installations to detect an airborne attack. The easternmost Arctic radar facility is on Wrangel Island, just 300 miles from Alaska.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet has received a variety of new ships and has increased its exercises. A major naval drill in August led to close encounters between Russian ships and US fishermen near Alaska.

That was Russia’s first significant exercise in the region in some time, but it wasn’t clear if it was a response to US actions, according to Michael Kofman, director of the Russia Studies Program at CNA, a nonprofit research group.

“A lot of big Russian military exercises, it’s not so much about signaling,” Kofman told Insider. “It’s much more about them actually being able to do it … to mass forces, to exercise farther away from the actual naval bases.”

Kofman was skeptical that the Bering Strait would take on the same strategic significance as the GIUK Gap but said the sea lines of communication that run through it mean it would be important if the US pursues a sea-control strategy in a conflict, particularly one with China, which brands itself a “near-Arctic power” and is increasingly active there.

“China’s quite interested in the Arctic,” Kofman said, “and the United States is always interested not just in Russia but anywhere China gets interested.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

Navy bans e-cigarettes on all ships and subs

The US Navy is banning vaping aboard ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment.


The Navy announced April 14 that it is suspending the use, possession, storage and charging of so-called “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems” aboard navy craft following continued reports of explosions of ENDS due to the overheating of lithium-ion batteries.

The prohibition applies to sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units.

The Navy said it implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft and equipment. Multiple sailors have suffered serious injuries from these devices, to include first- and second-degree burns and facial disfigurement. In these cases, injuries resulted from battery explosions during ENDS use, charging, replacement or inadvertent contact with a metal object while transporting.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
(Photo via Department of Defense)

The prohibition will be effective 30 days from the release of the policy May 14, and will remain in effect until a final determination can be made following a thorough analysis.

Deployed units may request extensions on device removal until their next port visit. Supervisors should ensure that removable lithium-ion batteries are removed from the units and stored according to the ENDS manufacturer instructions, in plastic wrap, in a plastic bag or any other non-conductive storage container.

Sailors on shore will still be allowed to use ENDS on base, but must do so in designated smoking areas ashore while on military installations.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Look, we know that it’s Apr. 1 and you can’t trust anything, but there really are 13 funny military memes below this line.


1. Sailors, don’t go too crazy with the new tattoo regs (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
If it works in the Navy, the other branches may finally let up as well.

2. Welcome to the military’s fine dining facility (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Would you like your eggs boiled or tartare?

SEE ALSO: Watch one of the baddest A-10 pilots ever land after being hit by a missile

3. Weather reports in ISIS-Land:

(via Military Memes)

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

4. “We found some sand on the inside of one of the liners. Take everything back and re-clean.”

(via Do You Even Airborne, Bro?)

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

5. If you’re going to lie for someone, make sure everyone is on the same page (via Devil Dog Nation).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
And who says he’s buying map pens? Appointments get excused. Errands do not.

6. He’s a weekend warrior. Why should he moderate his diet on weekdays?

(via Pop Smoke)

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Gooey, gooey chocolate.

7. This run builds esprit de corps … somehow (via Air Force Nation).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
After the run, we’ll all build camaraderie by cleaning weapons and emptying connexes.

8. The elite Air Force Arts and Crafts Squadron:

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
In World War II, they crossed the Rhine on bridges made of popscicle sticks.

9. Oddly enough, the spelling doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that they used an upside-down “W” for the first “M” (via Coast Guard Memes).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Frist sargeent is going to be pissed when he sees this.

10. “I want back in the plane! I want back in the plane!”

(via The Salty Soldier)

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

11. Maybe some nice squats or something?

(via Team Non-Rec)

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Calf raises? No? Alright then.

12. Looks like we’re never making it home after all (via The Salty Soldier).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Everyone empty out the footlockers! It’s time for games!

13. The Army keeps this up, they’ll be able to join the Corps (via Team Non-Rec).

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Except the Army probably still won’t have any swim training.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35 fighters promise a powerful show of force for North Korea

The U.S. and South Korean militaries will join together for a final military exercise to close out a heated 2017 with F-22 and F-35 stealth jets training right off North Korea’s borders.


The exercise, called “Vigilant Ace,” will run from Dec. 4-8 and involve 12,000 military personnel between the U.S. and South Korea, as well as 230 aircraft, a defense official told the Wall Street Journal.

It will also be the first time six F-22 Raptors will visit South Korea, and it will focus on enemy infiltration and precision airstrikes, according to Yonhap news.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen

The drill will close out a heated 2017 where President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged vicious threats of destroying each other’s countries.

With the emphasis of stealth jets to the annual U.S.-South Korea exercises, this drill will be unlike any others. The US typically invites international observers to its military drills, but North Korea simply has no way to track stealth jets.

In late September the U.S. flew a B-1B bomber and a few F-15 fighter jets near North Korea, and Pyongyang never found out. In the past, the U.S. has had to tell North Korea about B-1B flights, because North Korea can’t detect them on their own, a South Korean defense official told NK News at the time.

That’s why stealth jets in South Korea is a nightmare for North Korea.

Also Read: Pacific Thunder, aka why North Korea cries, kicks off in South Korea

North Korea sees U.S. and South Korean military drills as preparation for an invasion to remove Kim. North Korea has specifically threatened to shoot down US B-1B bombers when they fly or where they rest at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Often, North Korea schedules its missile launches around the dates of U.S. and South Korean drills in protest.

But North Korea has no chance of spotting, tracking, or shooting down stealth jets, and the commonly accepted role of stealth platforms as being “door kickers,” or weapons systems to start wars off, will only aggravate Pyongyang’s worst fears.

So a year of record-high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea will end with practically invisible jets flying over the Korean Peninsula, and there is little that Kim Jong Un can do in response.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Congress wants to cyber attack countries who meddle in elections

As part of the fiscal 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee wants the U.S. to launch offensive cyber attacks in retaliation against Russia or any other country that tries to “significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government.”

The language appeared in the committee’s newly released conference report of the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” a week after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized President Donald Trump for not taking a hard stance on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.


The NDAA “authorizes the National Command Authority to direct U.S. Cyber Command to take appropriate and proportional action through cyberspace to disrupt, defeat, and deter systematic and ongoing attacks by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran in cyberspace.”

“Defense committees have long expressed concern with the lack of an effective strategy and policy for the information domain, including cyberspace and electronic warfare,” the document states.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

President Donald Trump

(Photo by Michael Vadon)

To assist the Defense Department in this challenge, the NDAA “establishes a policy that the United States should employ all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities, to deter if possible, and respond when necessary, to cyber attacks that target U.S. interests with the intent to cause casualties, significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government, threaten the Armed Forces or the critical infrastructure they rely upon, achieve an effect comparable to an armed attack, or imperil a U.S. vital interest,” the document states.

Lawmakers became increasingly vocal in their concerns about Russian meddling in U.S. elections after Trump appeared to question his own intelligence agencies’ findings on the issue and take Putin’s word at the Helsinki summit that Russia had no part in interfering with the 2016 election.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.


“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said, according to The Associated Press.

“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: ‘I don’t see any reason why it would be,’ ” Trump said.

He later clarified his comments, saying he told Putin the U.S. won’t tolerate any election interference in the future.

“I let him know we can’t have this,” Trump said, according to an AP report. “We’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

In addition to the new language, Senate lawmakers increased research and development spending on cyber, and other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics and directed energy, by more than 0 million, the document states.

If signed by Trump, “the FY19 NDAA will help provide our men and women in uniform the resources and tools they need to face today’s increasingly complex and dangerous world,” according to a recent Senate Armed Services Committee press release.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian fighters and F-22s almost had a catastrophic midair crash

Two U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighters intercepted two Russian Su-25 fighter jets Dec. 13, conducting multiple maneuvers, firing warning flares, and, in one instance, aggressively flying to avoid colliding with one another, U.S. officials tell Military.com.


The Su-25s — single-seat, twin-engine aircraft — “flew into coordinated coalition airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River near Abu Kamal, Syria, and were promptly intercepted,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com in an email.

The F-22s, the U.S.’ most advanced fighter aside from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, were in the area providing air cover for partner ground forces conducting operations against the Islamic State, he said.

“The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our deconflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Pickart said.

During one maneuver, a Su-25 flew so close to an F-22 “that it had to aggressively maneuver to avoid a midair collision,” he said.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
A Russian Su-25. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Alex Beltyukov)

The F-22 also trailed a Su-35 after it flew across the river into territory deemed unsafe to coalition aircraft.

“The incident lasted approximately 40 minutes before the Russian aircraft flew to the west side of the river. During and following the encounter, coalition leaders at the [Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar] contacted the Russians on the deconfliction line to de-escalate the situation and avert a strategic miscalculation,” Pickart said.

AFCENT officials said the Russians had “verbally agreed” in November through the deconfliction line that they would remain west of the Euphrates River, and the coalition would operate to the East, he said.

Read Also: This is the plane Russia thinks can match the A-10

“Since agreeing to this deconfliction arrangement, the Russians have flown into our airspace on the east side of the river 6-8 times per day, or approximately 10 percent of the Russian and Syrian flights,” Pickart noted.

“If either of us needs to cross the river for any reason, we’re supposed to first deconflict via the line,” he said. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots’ actions are deliberate or if these are just honest mistakes.”

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
An F-22 Raptor in flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Solomon Cook)

Officials have said recently that coalition aircraft — more than a dozen air forces cooperating to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria — are concerned about the shrinking airspace.

“The coalition’s greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” Pickart said. “We train our aircrew to take specific actions and to make every attempt possible to de-escalate the situation wherever possible.”

He continued, “We are not here to fight the Russians and Syrians — our focus remains on defeating ISIS. That said, if anyone threatens coalition or friendly partner forces in the air or on the ground, we will defend them.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Koreans are tired of all the Kim Jong Un photos

Kim Jong Un may enjoy being photographed frequently, but his desire to be at the center of state media attention may be irritating ordinary North Koreans.


Kim’s recurring presence in North Korean newspapers, like the Rodong Sinmun, now means major state visits must be commemorated with dozens of Kim photographs per issue, Daily NK reported Dec. 18.

On Dec. 9, Kim’s visit to Samjiyon in Yanggang Province was announced in the newspaper with 60 photographs from the location, with 50 out of the 60 pictures including Kim.

The attention-seeking Kim is drawing criticism from North Koreans, who say he is trying to repair his image following the execution of his uncle-in-law Jang Song Taek.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
(Photo from North Korean State Media)

One North Korea source told Daily NK the “very common” photographs are a problem for smokers.

“People don’t like it,” the source said. “Among workers, who are looking for spare newspaper to roll up a cigarette, it is becoming increasingly hard to find a fragment without a portrait of Kim Jong Un.”

North Korea law forbids people from using pictures of Kim in derogatory ways, and travelers to North Korea have previously told UPI they are not allowed to fold a crease across a picture of Kim’s face or damage an image of him in newspapers.

Also Read: 7 nasty ways Kim Jong Un executes people

Kim may be tightening his grip as he concludes his fifth full year in power.

Analysts at Seoul’s Institute for National Security Strategy said Dec. 18 that Kim has purged top officials Hwang Pyong So and Kim Won Hong, less than a week after a South Korean newspaper reported Hwang may have been expelled from the Workers’ Party for taking bribes.

The INSS also said economic sanctions could hit the elites, and Kim could purge more economic officials to assign blame as conditions worsen in the country, Yonhap reported.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China issued a warning to its citizens traveling to the US

The Chinese Embassy in Washington issued a notice on June 30, 2018, telling its citizens to take caution when traveling to the US over summer.

“First, the United States medical expenses are expensive,” the notice said, encouraging its citizens to organize health cover in advance of travel.

The notice also warned that “US law and order is not good, and shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent.” Gun violence is a leading cause of death in the US.


“You should be on alert to suspicious people around you and avoid going out alone at night,” the notice also said.

China has issued warnings against the high rate of gun violence in the US in the past.

In 2017, the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles published a guide for citizens on how to respond to an active-shooter situation. And in April, 2018, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued an advisory on popular messaging platform WeChat urging citizens to “be careful and prepare for the possibility that gun crimes may occur at workplaces, schools, at home and at tourist sites,” the New York Times reported.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China headquarters.

The embassy notice issued on June 30, 2018, also discussed US border policy, and notified tourists that border patrol have the right to inspect travelers and to check their nationality and purpose of entry without a search warrant. But it also advised citizens to be vigilant.

“If the parties involved believe that the law enforcement officers have engaged in improper law enforcement or discriminatory practices, please keep the relevant evidence and ask to make a complaint to their superiors in person,” it said. “Sparking controversy with on-site law enforcement personnel is not helpful for resolving the obstruction of entry, and may even lead to a deterioration of the situation.”

The US has come under international scrutiny over the Trump administration’s tightened border security measures, including its “zero-tolerance” policy, which has seen more than 2,300 migrant families separated. Several videos have also surfaced showing border agents patrolling bus stations and asking travelers for identification.

In 2017, the US saw a drop in foreign tourism, which some dubbed the “Trump Slump.” According to Travel + Leisure, the US welcomed 72.9 million foreign visitors in 2017, down from the previous year’s 75.9 million, though the decline was only about 4%.

Under the Obama administration, the US saw record high numbers in 2015 with 77.5 million foreign visitors, Travel + Leisure added.

In 2016, nearly 3 million Chinese tourists visited the US and spent $33 billion, more than tourists from any other country.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

USS John S. McCain leaves drydock after crash damage

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) achieved a major milestone this week as it successfully launched from dry dock and moored pierside at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Nov. 27.

This milestone is an important step in the ongoing effort to repair and restore one of the U.S. Navy’s most capable platforms, and reflects nearly a year’s worth of wide-reaching and successful coordination across multiple organizations. The ship entered dry dock at the Navy’s Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) Yokosuka in February.


Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) prepares to depart from a dry dock at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. McCain is departing the dock after an extensive maintenance period in order to sustain the ship’s ability to serve as a forward-deployed asset in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyra Watson)

“After the initial repair assessments were conducted, we had to quickly mobilize and determine the most critical steps to develop an executable repair and modernization plan,” explained Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare and Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC), Rear Adm. Jim Downey. “As we began the restoration process, we assembled cohesive teams capable of delivering both materially ready and more modernized ships to the fleet.”

To begin the repair and restoration effort, the Navy immediately reached out to personnel at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine. BIW is the company that originally constructed the ship and currently serves as the planning yard for work on in-service Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The BIW employees worked alongside representatives from Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Supervisor of Shipbuilding, also in Bath, Maine, to conduct a material assessment of the ship. That information was then used by SRF-JRMC and the local Japanese repair contractor, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, to plan and swiftly execute the work ahead.

The McCain crew has been involved in every aspect of the availability.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is pulled towards a pier after departing from a dry dock at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. McCain is departing the dock after an extensive maintenance period in order to sustain the ship’s ability to serve as a forward-deployed asset in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy Graham)

“I’m proud of and thankful for every person who has worked together to move USS John S. McCain another step closer to both normalcy and sailing again with U.S. 7th Fleet,” said Cmdr. Micah Murphy, commanding officer, USS John S. McCain. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but I remain impressed by the incredible teamwork, determination and flexibility shown daily by this crew as well as the SRF Project Team to return a better, more lethal warship to the fleet.”

Today, McCain has a fully restored hull, a new port thrust shaft, and newly constructed berthing spaces.

The ongoing availability also includes completing maintenance work that had previously been deferred, which reflects the Navy’s commitment to ensuring that required maintenance on ships is no longer deferred. Additionally, the U.S. Pacific Fleet implemented a new force generation model to protect maintenance, training, and certification requirements prior to operational tasking for ships forward-deployed to Japan, like John S. McCain.

The ship’s crew worked alongside personnel from NAVSEA’s Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Philadelphia and Port Hueneme divisions who were challenged to develop a test plan concurrent with repair efforts.

“All key players and industry partners continue to execute the McCain effort with maximum intensity in an environment built on trust and shared goals,” said Capt. Garrett Farman, SRF-JRMC commanding officer. “Our mission is to keep the 7th Fleet operationally ready, and everyone on the team recognizes the immense value that this mission brings to U.S. and Japan mutual interests in keeping our waters safe.”

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) prepares to undock as a dry dock is flooded in order to test the ship’s integrity. McCain is departing the dock after an extensive maintenance period in order to sustain the ship’s ability to serve as a forward-deployed asset in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy Graham)

The complex repair and restoration required support and collaboration from all aspects of the U.S. Navy maintenance enterprise, including NSWC Philadelphia and NSWC Port Hueneme; Engineering Directorate (SEA 05); Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare (SEA 21); Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC); Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC); Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC); Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC); Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS); and Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center (FDRMC) Naples and Rota detachment.

Over the next few months, efforts will focus on testing the repaired ship’s systems in preparation for a return to operational tasking.

The Navy’s enterprise leadership continues to make improvements with routine, close oversight provided by the fleet commanders and the Navy staff to generate ready ships and aircraft on-time and on-plan. Improved ship-class maintenance plans are capturing a more robust understanding of fleet maintenance requirements, and the elimination of work deferrals are improving the material condition of the fleet.

This summer, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer inducted Sen. John S. McCain III into the ship’s official namesake alongside his father and grandfather in a ceremony on board, July 12. The crew’s messdecks, known as the Maverick Café, re-opened for business on Nov. 19, the late Senator’s birthday.

John S. McCain is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan as part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The ship is expected to complete repairs in late 2019.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Philippine Navy just tested anti-tank missiles at sea

The Philippine Navy has successfully test-fired its first ever ship-borne missile, making it a much more capable force in tense regional waters.

Navy personnel aboard a multipurpose attack craft, or MPAC, operating in waters off Lamao Point in Bataan launched a Spike Extended Range missile at a target six kilometers away, the Inquirer, a local outlet, reported Aug. 9, 2018, citing an announcement by the Philippine Navy.


“The target was hit dead center even if the sea state condition was moderately rough with a wave of at least one meter high but within the normal firing conditions of the missile,” Navy public affairs chief Commander Jonathan Zata told reporters.

The test was part of a Sea Acceptance Test for the missile system first acquired in early 2018.

www.youtube.com

The Philippines purchased the Spike ER missile system, which launches short-range surface-to-surface missiles, from Israel in late April 2018 for .6 million. The systems are expected to be installed on three fast MPAC gunboats, while its warships will be armed with longer-range missiles.

“It will be a deterrent because, this time, we have a credible armament that can strike a punch whether the target is a small or large ship,” a Philippine commander told Reuters in early May 2018.

The Philippines faces threats ranging from China’s militarization of the South China Sea to pirates in its southern waters. The country is preparing to spend .41 billion over the next five years to obtain warships, drones, fighter jets, radar systems, helicopters, and surveillance planes to bolster its capabilities.

The test-firing of the Spike ER missile system comes just a few weeks after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to “defend our interest” in the South China Sea. China has expanded its military presence there, despite an international arbitration ruling two years ago that discredited China’s vast claims to the highly contested waterway.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The drone that tipped the scales at the Battle of Takur Ghar

A once quiet landscape turned battlefield, the clash of gunfire and shouts ripped through the Shahi-Kot Valley in the early hours of March 4, 2002. As part of an early war effort that targeted al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the Battle of Roberts Ridge is still known as one of the deadliest engagements during Operation Anaconda.

Above the Takur Ghar mountain top, an MQ-1 Predator aircrew became an unforeseen, close air support asset for a desperate joint special operations team in their time of need.


Deep, black smoke from a crashed, bullet-riddled MH-47 Chinook helicopter filled the air. Among the wreckage were the lead combat controller on the ground, Maj. Gabe Brown, then a staff sergeant, along with the rest of the special operations team who worked to secure casualties and defend their position on the summit.

Pinned down on the landing zone and under direct fire, Brown established communications with an MQ-1 aircrew in the area who had visual of the team. Col. Stephen Jones, then captain and Predator pilot, had already been in the cockpit and was ordered to support just moments after the crash.

Before Jones arrived on station that early morning, he had no idea what he and his team were in for.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

An MH-47 Chinook Helicopter.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Callaway)

“I remember coming in on shift that night and there was a lot of commotion,” Jones said. “I was told to get out to the ground control station as soon as possible.”

Throughout the day, Brown said he developed rapport with the Predator pilot as he gave situational awareness updates and assisted with targeting enemy combatants.

“When I had fighters check in, he would buddy lase for those inbound fighters and would help me with the talk-on, so it cut my workload dramatically having him there,” Brown said.

Many other U.S. and coalition aircraft were simultaneously entering and exiting the area. Before authorizing a strike, Brown needed to “talk-on” the respective aircrew, which meant he briefed the situation on the ground to every aircraft that entered the airspace.

With a bird’s-eye view, Jones and his aircrew alleviated some of Brown’s duties and took control of liaising information within the zone, while serving as forward air controllers in the battle.

“(From our cockpits) we were serving as forward air controllers airborne or FACA, and I was serving as the on-scene commander,” Jones said.

He began looking after the survivors, deconflicting airspace for coalition aircraft coming in and out, as well as communicating back to the joint command and control elements about the survivors’ condition as they put together an evacuation plan.

“Gabe was doing a phenomenal job being a controller on the ground calling in close air support, but it was a lot of work,” Jones said. “There were a ton of coalition aircraft coming in and out and some of them didn’t have much play time, meaning they had to get in, develop an understanding of what was going on, receive a nine-line and then drop bombs or shoot their missiles.”

The aircrew took some of the burden from Brown who remained on frequency with Jones, ready to voice commands at any moment.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

Brown was able to conserve radio battery life due to the aircrew’s initiative and the MQ-1’s ability to loiter over the battlefield for extended periods of time.

Ground forces were still pinned down from continuous bunker fire when Jones relayed the evacuation plan to Brown. Their team was in need of a precise airstrike that could eliminate the enemy hunkered down deep in the mountainous terrain.

Brown first called upon fighter aircraft.

“We were basically trying to use walk-in ordinance off the fighters, using 500-pound bombs to frag (blast) the enemy out of the bunker and we were unable,” Brown said.

After numerous attempts, Brown and his team were running out of options and daybreak quickly approached…

Brown and his team were considered danger-close due to their proximity to the target, causing concern for aircrew and senior leaders. However, Brown’s need for immediate aerial support outweighed any apprehension.

“It was late in the morning, he (Jones and aircrew) had one shot left and we had been on the ground for a few hours,” Brown said. “I gave my own initials and cleared him hot.”

Jones released the hellfire missile and successfully destroyed the bunker, which allowed U.S. forces on the ground to recuperate and devise a mission plan going forward.

“When that hellfire went into that bunker, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that bunker had been neutralized,” Brown said.

The enemy may not have seen the MQ-1 as it soared overhead, but radical terrorists felt the Predator’s wrath.

Jones and the rest of the MQ-1 aircrew loitered above the combat zone for approximately 14 hours, relaying critical information and laser-guided munitions during the entire fight. Their actions provided key reconnaissance for senior leaders commanding the situation, and directly enabled visual relay between forces on the ground and the combatant commander.

“I credit that pilot, the technology and that airframe with saving my life, as well as the team’s and getting the wounded and KIA (killed in action) off the hilltop that day,” he said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

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This 12-year-old boy became a Navy hero in World War II

Calvin Graham was the youngest of seven children of a poor Texas farm family and because of his abusive stepfather, he and one of his older brothers decided to move out. Calvin supported himself by selling newspapers and delivering telegrams on weekends and after school, but he was curious about something more: the Navy.


He was just eleven when he first thought of lying about his age to join the Navy. The world was in the midst of the second world war and some of his cousins had recently died in battles. Graham made his decision. The question was how to do it.

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He started by shaving, as he thought it would ultimately make him look older. (And, note: Contrary to popular belief, shaving has no effect on hair growth rates or thickness) More effectively, he had his friends forge his mother’s signature for consent, stole a notaries’ stamp, and told his mom he was going to visit relatives for a while.

Graham later recalled that the day he showed up to enlist, “I stood 5’2 and weighed 125 pounds, but I wore one of my older brothers’ clothes and we all practiced talking deep.”

Despite all his efforts, there was one problem- a dentist who helped screen the new recruits. Graham stated, “I knew he’d know how young I was by my teeth… when the dentist kept saying I was 12, I said I was 17. Finally, he said he didn’t have time to mess with me and he let me go.”

On August 15, 1942, Calvin Graham was sworn into the Navy. He was twelve years, four months and twelve days old, the youngest individual to enlist in the U.S. military since the Civil War and the youngest member of the U.S. military during WWII.

After spending time in San Diego for basic training, he sailed aboard the USS South Dakota as a loader for a 40 mm anti-aircraft gun, a “green boy” from Texas who would soon become not only the youngest to serve, but the nation’s youngest decorated war hero.

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
The USS South Dakota engages a Japanese torpedo bomber during the Battle of Santa Cruz October 26, 1942. Photo: US Navy

The South Dakota, known also as “Battleship X” during the war, was a destroyer under the command of Captain Thomas Leigh Gatch that was heading to Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. On the night of November 14, 1942, during the Battle of Guadalcanal, the battleship was hit forty-seven times by Japanese fire. One explosion threw Calvin down three decks of stairs. He was seriously wounded by shrapnel that tore through his face and knocked out his front teeth. Additionally, he suffered severe burns, but in spite of his injuries he tried to rescue fellow Navy sailors from danger.

I took belts off the dead and made tourniquets for the living and gave them cigarettes and encouraged them all night. It was a long night. It aged me… I didn’t do any complaining because half the ship was dead.

For his efforts during the battle and aiding other soldiers, despite his own injuries, he received the Bronze Star as well as a Purple Heart.

However, the distinction did not last long. A year after serving in the Battle of Guadalcanal, while his battleship was being repaired, Graham’s mother learned of what her son had been up to and informed the Navy of his real age.

Rather than simply releasing him from his service, Graham was thrown in the brig for almost three months. It would seem the plan was to keep him there until his service time was up, but he was ultimately released when his sister threatened to go to the media and tell them about her brother’s imprisonment, despite his distinguished service. Graham was released, his medals stripped from him, and then dishonorably discharged, which is significant as it made it so he couldn’t receive any disability benefits, despite his injuries.

At only thirteen, Calvin Graham was a “baby vet” who quickly found he didn’t fit in at school anymore. Once again he chose a life of an adult, getting married and fathering a child at fourteen, while working as a welder in a Houston shipyard.

At seventeen, he got divorced and enlisted in the Marines. Three years later, he broke his back when he fell from a pier. This unfortunate event ended his service career and left him selling magazine subscriptions for a living.

For the remainder of his life, Graham fought for both medical benefits and a clean service record. In 1978, he was finally given an honorable discharge (approved by President Jimmy Carter), and all his medals except the Purple Heart were reinstated. He was also awarded $337 in back pay but was denied health benefits except for disability status for one of his two teeth he lost in the Navy during WWII.

In 1988, his story came to public attention through the TV movie, Too Young the Hero. The publication of his story pushed the government to review his case and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that granted Graham full disability benefits, increased his back pay to $4917 and allowed him $18,000 for past medical bills incurred due to injuries sustained while a member of the military. However, this was contingent on receipts for the medical services. Unfortunately, some of the doctors who treated him had already died and many medical bills were lost, so he only received $2,100 to cover his former medical expenses.

Calvin Graham died of heart failure in November of 1992, at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. At the time of his death, all of his decorations were reinstated with the exception of the Purple Heart. Two years later, his Purple Heart was reinstated and presented to his widow at a special ceremony. He also received the National Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with bronze Battle Star device and the WWII Victory Medal.

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This article originally appeared at Today I Found Out. Copyright 2015. Like Today I Found Out on Facebook.

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This is Israel’s ‘impenetrable’ underwater border around Gaza

Israel has begun construction on a massive underwater barrier with the Gaza Strip which it is calling “impenetrable.”

Israel and the Gaza Strip are both located along the Mediterranean Sea, and are separated by several land borders. But no barrier has ever been erected at sea.


Israel’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that building of the “impenetrable” barrier has begun at Gaza’s northern border, along the beach of a small agricultural community, or kibbutz, called Zikim. The barrier is designed to withstand harsh sea conditions for many years, according to the ministry.

A defense official said the massive barrier will consist of three security layers, which include a layer below sea level, a layer of armored stone, and a top layer of barbed wire. An additional fence will surround the entire area.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the “one-of-a-kind” security project will “effectively block any possibility of infiltrating Israel by sea.”

Military activity is picking up in the quiet waters between the US and Russia
Location of the Gaza Strip.

Leiberman added that the barrier serves to limit militant group Hamas’ strategic capabilities as tensions continue to flare along the border. At least 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 injured during violent clashes with Israeli soldiers early May 2018. On May 29, 2018, more than 27 rockets were reportedly fired from Gaza into Israel.

The decision to build the barrier was prompted by a thwarted attack by Hamas militants at sea in July 2014, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Four Hamas naval operatives, referred to as frogmen, swam ashore at Zikim beach and attempted to cross into Israeli territory. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the men were armed with automatic weapons and explosives, and sought to carry out a terror attack. The four men were later killed in combined sea, air, and land attacks by the IDF.

The IDF posted aerial footage of the thwarted attack:

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