Naval Pilots Punished for Drawing Obscene Image Over Central Washington

Here is the punishment the two aviators who drew the Arby’s hat over Central Washington received:

Two U.S. Navy aviators responsible for skydrawing a phallic symbol over Okanogan County on Nov. 16 have received administrative punishment, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The unnamed pilot, along with his unnamed backseat aviator, were given six months probation, according to the newspaper, and must present a series of “Change the Culture” briefs to fellow crews and students. Both airmen were based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.

Both are members of the “Zappers” Electronic Attack Squadron 130 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The pilot was identified as a male lieutenant, according to the Union-Tribune, and used a EA-18G Growler’s contrails to draw the obscene image during a routine training course.

Neither aviator was arrested or charged with a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Navy told the newspaper, but still face separate investigations from their Virginia-based Carrier Air Wing 3, which could lead to further punishment.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but what else is there to investigate?  They clearly did something stupid, but trying to go after them with criminal charges seems pretty extreme to me.

Japanese Tugboat Loses Power and Collides with USS Benfold

Not being in the Navy I don’t know how common fender benders like this are, but it is pretty clear that any Navy ship that receives a scratch will lead to national headlines due to the two recent deadly ship accidents:

The USS Benfold and Republic of Singapore Navy?s RSS Endurance sail together during Exercise Pacific Griffin 2017, off the coast of Guam, August 28, 2017.

A U.S. warship collided with a Japanese commercial tug boat in Japan’s Sagami Bay on Saturday, marking the fifth time this year that a ship in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific has been involved in a crash.

The Japanese tug boat lost propulsion and drifted into the USS Benfold during a towing exercise. The U.S. guided-missile destroyer sustained minimal damage, and there were no reported injuries on either vessel, according to a press release from the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

The USS Benfold, which is awaiting a full damage assessment, remains at sea under its own power. The incident will be investigated, the 7th Fleet said.  [Good Morning America]

You can read more at the link as well as over at the Stars & Stripes.

Three US Aircraft Carriers Conduct Joint Drills in Show of Force Against North Korea

The long advertised joint drills involving three US aircraft carriers is currently taking place:

Three U.S. aircraft carriers steam in formation in the East Sea, leading South Korean and U.S. warships during the allies’ joint naval exercise on Nov. 12, 2017, in this photo provided by South Korea’s Navy. (Yonhap)

The Reagan, the flag ship of the 7th Fleet’s Carrier Strike Group 5, was conducting a combined exercise with two other supercarriers — the USS Nimitz and the USS Theodore Roosevelt — in the Korea Theater of Operations (KTO) and was also joined by South Korea’s naval ships.

“There’s an advantage to operate together, in that combined three carriers really create a tremendous amount of combat power very flexible and create a lot of options for our national leadership,” Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of the Reagan strike unit, said in an interview at the ship’s “flag bridge,” which commands a view of the whole flight deck.

He would not reveal the exact location of the carrier.

According to an informed source, it was transiting the waters 50 nautical miles, or 92 kilometers, south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de-facto inter-Korean sea border, and 40 nautical miles north of Ulleung Island.

It’s unusual for the Japan-based carrier to sail so close to the NLL. It’s unprecedented for the South’s Navy to train with three U.S. flattops at the same time.

The last time three U.S. carriers were mobilized for joint drills in the Western Pacific was in 2007 near Guam.

The current training is apparently a warning message to the North’s Kim Jong-un regime and a way to put pressure on it. [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link, but this is a tremendous amount of fire power sitting such a short distance from North Korea.  Hopefully a strong message was sent to the Kim regime.

US Ship Captain Criticized for Giving Sailors “Bread and Water” Punishment

I had no idea that the US Navy had such a regulation:

Image via NY Daily News.

Sailors aboard the cruiser Shiloh during the 26-month command of Capt. Adam M. Aycock often worried about the CO’s use of one of the Navy’s most arcane punishments: confinement for three days in the brig while being fed only bread and water.

Over time, Aycock’s proclivity for using bread and water to punish junior sailors became well-known on the Yokosuka, Japan, waterfront, where the Shiloh is based, according to sailor comments in three of the ship’s command climate surveys.

“I do not wear my ballcap at the (Navy Exchange store),” one sailor wrote. “Even the taxi drivers on base know us for being the ‘USS Bread and Water.’”  [Navy Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I am willing to be that many servicemembers would rather suck up three days of bread and water instead of getting hit with extra duty and restriction of up to 45 days through the Article 15 process.

US Navy Ships In Congested Waters Have Begun Reporting Their Positions Online

It appears that anyone can start tracking US Navy vessels online whenever they are traveling through congested waters:

A tweet posted on Sunday, Oct. 1. 2017, that maps the location of a “US GOV VSL” approaching Hong Kong reads: “Reason to believe this is USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).”

Naval enthusiasts are tweeting what they believe are U.S. warship positions after commanders ordered the vessels to activate their beacons while in congested waters to avoid collisions.

The order to turn on the Automatic Identification System (AIS) locators, reported by National Public Radio on Sept. 29, follows a series of collisions that have killed 17 sailors in the Pacific in recent months.

However, it appears that the new procedure is also allowing people to track the warships online.

A tweet posted on Sunday that maps the location of a “US GOV VSL” approaching Hong Kong reads: “Reason to believe this is USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).”

The aircraft carrier and the guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee anchored near Hong Kong on Monday, a Pacific Fleet statement said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

USS Ronald Reagan To Arrive in the East Sea Later This Month

It will be interesting to see if the USS Ronald Reagan crosses the Northern Limit Line in the East Sea during this upcoming training mission:

The United States is expected to send the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), a forward-deployed aircraft carrier, to waters near the Korean Peninsula this month for a combined exercise with South Korea’s Navy, a defense official here said Sunday.

“We are in consultations (with the U.S.) on a plan for the aircraft strike group led by the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan to operate in the East Sea around Oct. 15,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Reagan will likely be accompanied by several other warships belonging to the strike group, such as an Aegis destroyer, a guided-missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine.

The two sides plan to conduct joint drills to detect, track and intercept the North’s ballistic missiles in addition to anti-submarine warfare training, according to the official.

A U.S Forces Korea (USFK) official said no date of the Reagan’s arrival has been fixed yet.

“It’s likely to hold the combined training around Oct. 20. The exact schedule has not been set, depending on the conditions. And then it will likely make a port call in Busan,” he said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

US Navy and Malaysian Authorities Continue Search for Missing USS John S. McCain Sailors

It seems like the odds of finding someone alive seem pretty remote, but lets all hope at least one of the missing is alive:

In this photo released by the Royal Malaysian Navy, the U.S guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, off Johor, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.

Ongoing search-and-rescue efforts for 10 missing USS John S. McCain sailors have turned up a number of bodies, Adm. Scott Swift, Pacific Fleet commander, told reporters Tuesday evening.

The Yokosuka-based guided-missile destroyer was traveling to Singapore for a routine port visit early Monday when it collided with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC oil tanker east of the city-state, injuring five sailors and leaving 10 missing.

During a news conference at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base, Swift said that Navy and Marine Corps divers discovered remains while searching sealed compartments in damaged areas of the ship. The Malaysian navy also discovered remains that could be one of the missing sailors.

“We have a report from the Malaysians … that they have found a body,” Swift said. “We are in the process of effecting the transfer of that body so we can start the identification process and determine whether it’s one of the missing sailors or not. We have discovered other bodies during the diving on McCain today. The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but initially the damage to the ship at least visually doesn’t appear as bad as with the USS Fitzgerald.