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PACIFIC OCEAN (June 4, 2018) The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU), conduct a strait transit the Pacific Ocean, June 4, 2018. The Essex ARG and 13th MEU are conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), the final exercise before the units' upcoming deployment. This exercise validates the ARG/MEU team's ability to adapt and execute missions in ever-changing, unknown environments. Upon completion of COMPTUEX, the 13th MEU and Essex ARG will be certified as the nation's premier forward-deployed, crisis response force, capable of executing missions across the broad spectrum of military operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Mealy.
PACIFIC OCEAN (June 4, 2018) The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU), conduct a strait transit the Pacific Ocean, June 4, 2018. The Essex ARG and 13th MEU are conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), the final exercise before the units' upcoming deployment. Upon completion of COMPTUEX, the 13th MEU and Essex ARG will be certified as the nation's premier forward-deployed, crisis response force, capable of executing missions across the broad spectrum of military operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Mealy.
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Divider BarCritical Days of Summer underway
5/23/201
by Susanne Greene, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy recognizes the period from Memorial Day through Labor Day as the "Critical Days of Summer," a time when many Sailors are enjoying time off for leave and recreational activities and there's an increased chance to get hurt without proper risk management. An average of 17 Sailors die per year on average due to off-duty mishaps.
"The Critical Days of Summer are the most dangerous times of year, but are much safer if we keep our awareness high," stated Don Borkoski, Traffic and Recreation Off-Duty Specialist at the Naval Safety Center.
The loss of one life is too many and the Naval Safety Center recently launched an awareness campaign with summer safety training, available on the command's website.
Borkoski also recommended taking advantage of motorcycle training and mentorship programs this summer for those who ride, since motorcycle fatalities always increase during the summer months and over the last five years have accounted for 22 fatalities during the Critical Days of Summer.
The other leading causes of off-duty deaths are drowning, falling, and alcohol.
"If you start your summer activity with alcohol," stated Borkowski, "we may likely be reading about your mishap."
The leading injury causes are motorcycle crashes, falls, sports injuries, injuries from lawn and yard work, and heat over-exposure.
The number of summer injuries and deaths can be greatly reduced by managing risks, improving awareness of hazards and implementing mitigation controls. The same skills taught in Operational Risk Management (ORM) training apply off-duty as well and will allow Sailors to have fun this summer without becoming a statistic.

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The Marine Corps Program Executive Officer Land Systems is expected to deliver 144 Utility Task Vehicles to the regiment-level starting in February 2017. The rugged all-terrain vehicle can carry up to four Marines or be converted to haul 1,500 pounds of supplies. With minimal armor and size, the UTV can quickly haul extra ammunition and provisions, or injured Marines, while preserving energy and stealth. Infantry Marines getting new vehicles
Infantry Marines receive ultralight off-road vehicles that will improve mission readiness by providing rapid logistics support in the field. Program Executive Officer Land Systems, the Corps’ acquisition arm for major land programs, delivered 144 Utility Task Vehicles to the regiment-level a mere six months from contract award. The rugged all-terrain vehicle can carry up to four Marines or be converted to haul 1,500 pounds of supplies. With minimal armor, the UTV can quickly haul extra ammunition and provisions, or injured Marines, while preserving energy and stealth.........read more

Military couple assignment policy: 5 things to know
The Navy realizes how important families are, and when they're not whole it can add stress to a Sailor's life. Collocation of dual-military couples is part of supporting families. It is a priority, along with balancing fleet readiness. The revised policy updates the collocation and distribution procedures and makes orders negotiation less cumbersome........ read more

Navy Pregnancy and Parenthood mobile app available
"Pregnancy and parenthood can be compatible with a successful military career when Service members and the Command both understand their roles and responsibilities, said Capt. Candace Eckert, director of N1 Diversity. "This app makes that task easier by identifying regulations, instructions and references from a wide variety of sources and offering them in one easy-to-use app. The app includes information regarding assignments, retention, separation, standards of conduct and much more." ......read more

Separation policy
To protect Sailors and Marines suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or any other diagnosed mental health condition, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has made his department the first in the military to assure such conditions are considered before separating a service member. ......read more

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National military news
USNS Mercy arrives in Japan for port calls
6/11/2018
by MC2 Kelsey L. Adams, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Service members participating in Pacific Partnership 2018 (PP18) aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived Yokosuka for a port call, June 10.
The purpose of the visit is to enhance relationships and promote goodwill between members of the U.S. armed forces and Japanese citizens, while demonstrating the capabilities of the ship. The crew of Mercy has already begun building these relationships while working with the crew of JDS Osumi during their mission stop in Nha Trang, Vietnam, prior to their arrival in Japan.
The stop in Yokosuka will see personnel working side-by-side with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) medical professionals during subject matter exchanges, medical symposiums and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR) exercises. Mercy and her crew will then transit to Tokyo, where they will give tours for government officials, members of the media and local citizens. The crew will also host a medical seminar and demonstrate the medical capabilities of the ship. At the conclusion of the visit to Tokyo, Mercy will return to Yokosuka to conduct additional subject matter exchanges and tour Japanese ships, aircraft and facilities.
"My team and I are excited to show our Japanese friends what Mercy is capable of and continue the knowledge exchanges we've been conducting for the last three months of our mission," said Capt. David Bretz, PP18 mission commander. "We are honored to visit Japan and our crew looks forward to working alongside our Japanese partners and embracing the vibrant culture."
Mercy and Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) conducted mission stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Yap, Palau and Thailand during PP18. These mission stops increased the reach and scope of PP18 participants and host nation counterparts to conduct technical expertise exchanges in medical, engineering, and HADR. Additionally, key leader and community engagement events allowed for direct engagement with local citizens and enhanced relationships with partner nation military and government leadership.
Pacific Partnership, now in its 13th iteration, is the largest annual multilateral HADR preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. PP18's objective is to enhance regional coordination in areas such as medical readiness and preparedness for man-made and natural disasters.
Pacific Partnership 2018 consisted of more than 800 U.S. military personnel stationed worldwide, working side-by-side with host nation counterparts to be better prepared for potential humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.

USS Milius Joins forward deployed Naval Forces in Yokosuka, Japan
5/22/2018
by Garrett Zopfi

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile-destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) arrived at U.S. Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka, to become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in Japan, Tuesday, May 22.
The arrival of Milius to the 7th Fleet adds another upgraded Aegis Baseline 9 destroyer to the waterfront in Yokosuka.
"The crew has trained extremely hard to get the ship fully certified and ready for tasking," said Milius Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jennifer Pontius. "There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into getting a ship ready to forward deploy and to transition a crew and their families overseas; I could not be prouder of this crew and their hard work."
Milius moored pier-side to the sounds of the 7th Fleet band's fanfare and cheers from family and friends.
On hand to welcome Milius to their new home Tuesday, were senior members of the naval forces leadership in Yokosuka, including Fleet Activities Yokosuka's Commanding Officer, Capt. Jeffrey Kim.
"Fleet Activities Yokosuka is very happy to welcome the entire Milius team, including their families, to their new home," said Kim, who oversees the U.S. Navy's largest overseas installation.
"As a community, we look forward to supporting USS Milius as one of 13 Forward Deployed Naval Force ships stationed here in Yokosuka."
"My crew and I are very excited to arrive in Yokosuka today and join this elite team of Forward Deployed Naval Forces," said Pontius. "For more than 50 years, the U.S.-Japan alliance has been the foundation of peace, security and the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. We aim to foster and strengthen that bond with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the local community."
Milius left its former home port of San Diego, April 20.

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SoCal military news

Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center conducts change of command ceremony
6/16/2018
by Lt. Joshua Pierce, Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center (FLEASWTRACEN) held a change of command ceremony onboard Naval Base Point Loma, June 15.
Capt. Brandon Bryan relieved Capt. Ron Toland as commanding officer.
Toland assumed command of the training center in June 2016. During his tenure, he led a staff of 270 service members and 30 civilian government employees, enhanced curriculum and proficiency of his instructors, and embarked on several initiatives, including the reshaping and implementing of new sonar technician surface training.
Capt. Frank X. Castellano, Center for Surface Combat Systems' commanding officer, was the guest speaker and highlighted some of Toland's achievements.
"Ron's unique anti-submarine warfare background and extensive mine warfare operational experience promoted and achieved command excellence at one of my largest commands," Castellano explained. "Ron and his team developed Air Intercept Controller (AIC) and Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Air Controller (ASTAC) preparation courses dramatically reducing attrition and improving fleet manning. He oversaw the Littoral Combat Ship Training Facility (LTF) expansion which included opening a new LTF onboard Naval Base San Diego. Ron actively fostered a positive command climate resulting in Naval Education and Training Command's Fiscal Year 2017 Gold Anchor Retention Excellence Award for the fourth consecutive year. Lastly, but extremely important, Ron and his staff provided the perseverance for Sailor 2025 Block Learning and Ready, Relevant Learning for the sonar technician surface rate. His team of sonar experts developed a combined A(V)15 Operations / "A" School merger to eliminate overhead and streamline learning pipelines in support of RRL initiatives. These initiatives improved overall street-to-fleet time for initial-entry Sailors, and served to reduce knowledge and skill degradation experienced in extended periods of Awaiting Instruction.
Toland was awarded a Legion of Merit and reflected on his tour.
"FLEASWTRACEN staff, I had a great time leading this outstanding team of professionals," Toland said.
"The many accomplishments that Capt. Castellano recognized today was due to your dedicated, daily efforts ensuring we developed and delivered the best surface ship combat systems training to our fleet Sailors to allow them to achieve surface warfare superiority. Keep your motivation focused on achieving your instructional goals and continuing to become the subject matter experts in each of your respective training areas, reinforcing the correct maintenance and operational habits to our students. FLEASWTRACEN has an incredible history since established in 1939 and each of you has helped to write another chapter. Never forget that we serve the greatest Navy the world has ever known and we must train our fleet Sailors to be ready to accomplish our core combat systems missions when called upon."
Toland's next assignment is deputy commander for Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center Mine Warfare Division, also located in San Diego.
Bryan, who previously served as assistant chief of staff for operations on the staff of commander, Carrier Strike Group 15 and director of strike group anti-submarine warfare training at the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, looks forward to his new duty as commanding officer for FLEASWTRACEN.
"It is a true honor and privilege to take command of this dedicated team of Navy active duty and civilian professionals," Bryan said.
"FLEASWTRACEN is at the forefront of delivering relevant and realistic combat systems training to the surface warfare fleet, and I look forward to working with this superb team in continuing their record of excellence."
CSCS' mission is to develop and deliver surface ship combat systems training to achieve surface warfare superiority. CSCS headquarters' staff oversees 14 learning sites, including FLEASWTRACEN. With a military and civilian staff of 300, FLEASWTRACEN delivers 90 technical courses of instruction through 475 course convenes educating more than 4,100 U.S. Navy and partner nation Sailors in the many facets of maintaining and operating their ships in the areas of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, combat systems training and littoral combat ship training.

Carrier Strike Group 1 welcomes new commander
6/13/2018
From Carl Vinson Strike Group Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey relieved Rear Adm. John Fuller as commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, during a pierside change of command ceremony, June 12, aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).
Vice Adm. John D. Alexander, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, presided over the ceremony and thanked Fuller for his efforts over the past 11 months as strike group commander.
"Thank you for being the kind of leader I could count on, your fellow strike group commanders could count on, and, most importantly, your Sailors could count on," said Alexander. "Please know how very proud we are of you and your accomplishments."
The strike group successfully completed a sustainment training exercise in November and a Western Pacific deployment in April. The deployment included bilateral exercises with French and Japanese maritime forces, as well as a historic visit to Vietnam, the first by a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group in more than 40 years.
Alexander presented Fuller the Legion of Merit award during the ceremony.
"It has been such an honor that I have been part of such a great team. I feel I gained so much more than I gave," said Fuller. "To my entire staff, thank you for being a family, leading by example and demonstrating great professionalism, humility and tenacity."
Fuller is scheduled to report to U.S. Northern Command in Colorado to serve as the director for strategy, policy and plans.
Holsey addressed strike group staff and leaders after assuming all duties and responsibilities as the CSG-1 commander.
"I am honored today to stand before you as your leader," said Holsey. "We will take every advantage to execute with professionalism, with purpose, and with precision."
Holsey received his commission through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Morehouse College in 1988. He commanded Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37 from 2007 to 2008 and the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) from 2013 to 2014.
Holsey reported to the strike group from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C., where he served as a deputy director for operations.
Carrier Strike Group 1 was formally established in 2009. The strike group includes aircraft carrier Carl Vinson; Carrier Air Wing 2; guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57); Destroyer Squadron 1 guided-missile destroyers USS O'Kane (DDG 77), USS Sterett (DDG 104), USS Dewey (DDG 105), and USS Michael Murphy; and USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001).

USS Carl Vinson holds change of command
6/11/2018
From USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Capt. Matthew Paradise relieved Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo as commanding officer of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during a pierside change of command ceremony June 11 on the ship's flight deck.
Verissimo, who assumed command of Carl Vinson in May 2016, was promoted to rear admiral during the ceremony just before turning over command to Paradise. Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander, Naval Air Forces, spoke during the event and praised Verissimo's leadership.
"Your leadership enabled Vinson to be the pinnacle example of the word 'readiness,'" said Miller. "We could always count on your ship and crew to answer the call of duty, day in and day out without complaint, hesitation or delay. No other aircraft carrier came close to matching your readiness."
Verissimo led Carl Vinson's crew of 3,200 Sailors during every facet of carrier operations, including two back-to-back Western Pacific deployments in 2017 and 2018. Carl Vinson's most recent deployment included a historic visit to Vietnam, the first by a U.S. aircraft carrier in more than 40 years.
"We chose the perfect captain, the perfect ship, and the perfect crew to represent naval aviation, the Navy and our nation on this historic and monumental visit," said Miller.
Carl Vinson amassed 400 days underway during Verissimo's tenure. During his final address as Carl Vinson's captain, Verissimo congratulated crew members on the ship's success.
"Congratulations on a job well done," said Verissimo. "You have carried forward our namesake's legacy of honorable service to our nation and strength from the sea. Thank you for training each other, thank you for your trust in me, and thank you for working as a strong team."
Verissimo received the Legion of Merit award for exceptional accomplishments during his tour. He is next scheduled to report to the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C., as a deputy director for operations in the National Joint Operations Intelligence Center.
After Paradise assumed all duties and responsibilities as Carl Vinson's commanding officer, he addressed the crew as captain for the first time.
"I join Admiral Miller and Admiral Verissimo in saluting Team Vinson for all it has achieved in these past few months and years," said Paradise. "There are more opportunities yet to go. We will have the opportunity to showcase America's strength, strengthen ties with our international partners, and remind everybody once again who is the best at what they do."
Paradise enlisted in the Navy in 1985 and attended Basic Underwater Demolition School. While assigned to SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Team 2, he was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and earned his commission in 1992.
After earning his wings as an F/A-18 pilot in July 1995, he flew and served in multiple training and operational commands. Paradise served as the executive officer for USS George H.W. Bush from 2013 to 2015 and commanded USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) from 2016 to 2017.
Carl Vinson is America's third Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The ship's namesake is one of the longest-serving U.S. congressmen in history who had a profound impact on developing America's modern naval force centered on aircraft carriers.

TSC San Diego conducts frocking ceremony
5/30/2018
by Lt. j.g. Ronald E. Ceballos,
Training Support Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Training Support Center (TSC) San Diego advanced four Sailors to the next paygrade during a frocking ceremony May 24.
TSC San Diego Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Feyedelem presented promotion certificates in the courtyard to the following individuals:
-Machinist Mate 1st Class Aljay German
-Fire Controlman 1st Class Travis Kenworthy
-Gunner's Mate 1st Class Shawn Northern
-Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Desiree Blanks
Advancement to the next paygrade comes with an obligation to assume more positions of leadership and overall greater responsibility. The Navy tradition to frock a Sailor is an opportunity for them to wear the uniform and take on the responsibilities of their new rank before they are formally advanced.
"This feels amazing, and I feel like things can only go up from here," said Northern, who works in TSC San Diego's legal directorate. "It is going to be challenging, but I know I have a lot of resources and peers to help me along the journey."
TSC San Diego Command Master Chief Christopher Cline encouraged Sailors who did not get advanced off the most recent exam cycle not to be discouraged and to prepare for the next exam.
"Continue to strive for excellence every day," said Cline. "Keep studying. We look forward to making many more new petty officers in the next cycle."
Training Support Center San Diego provides centralized student management, facilities, information technology, and training support to Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) supported commands in the Pacific region.
For more information about TSC San Diego, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/tscsd/Default.aspx.

USS Portland arrives in Pearl Harbor
5/30/2018
by MC2 Britney Odom, USS Portland Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) arrived in Pearl Harbor May 29 to conduct Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials.
The ship departed San Diego May 21 and began her transit to Hawaii.
The ship's crew has engaged in various training exercises within the past couple of weeks to ensure the ship's weapon systems are properly installed, function correctly, and can be operated safely.
Portland performed her first underway replenishment (UNREP), employing the Standard Tensioned Replenishment Alongside Method, May 22. Steaming approximately 200 feet alongside the lead ship of her class, Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), Portland received more than 175,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel and JP-5 jet fuel from the oiler.
"UNREP was well executed by the crew," said Lt. David Youker, Portland's operations officer. "We were able to assess material condition and watchstander readiness, while increasing our operational capability."
In addition to the UNREP, Portland performed deck landing qualifications with three MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons 163, 165 and 363, as well as one CH-53E Super Stallion from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465. These flight operations marked a few firsts for Portland-it was the ship's first night landing operation with an Osprey and the ship's first time conducting flight operations with a CH-53. This is the largest number of aircraft in the ship's airspace to date.

For the first time since RIMPAC 2002, U.S. 3rd Fleet's Command Center will relocate from San Diego to Pearl Harbor to support command and control of all 3rd Fleet forces in 3rd Fleet's area of responsibility to include forces operating in the Western Pacific. The Fleet Command Center will be established at a Deployable Joint Command and Control on Hospital Point in Hawaii for the first part of the exercise and then transition to Portland for the remainder of the exercise.

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United Through Reading®
Deploying? Service members invited to record stories for family at San Diego USO
United Through Reading® is a program helping ease the stress of separation for military families by having deploying or deployed service members read children’s books aloud via DVD for their family to watch at home. This powerful program is available to all military units. It provides service members a chance to make lasting connections from afar. The DVD recording and the book are mailed to the child and family back home.
Service members who are leaving for training can also take part in this program. Being a parent is not required; service members can send the DVD & book(s) to any special child in their life such as younger sister or brother, niece, nephew or godchild.
On the day of the recording, service members are encouraged to dress in the attire they will be wearing while deployed/training, but this is not required. The room is private, so any special message, or those fun reading voices, will only be heard by the recipient of the DVD recording. USO San Diego has books available, or service members can bring their own. Our volunteers will help set up the camera and then leave the room. The DVD can hold a 30 minute recording.
Please e-mail USO San Diego Staff Member Nichole Duarte at utr@usosandiego.org to make your appointment. This program is offered at both USO San Diego centers.

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