BZ to the men & women aboard the San Antonio.
USS San Antonio Responds to Persons in Distress Near Malta
NAPLES, Italy (NNS) — At the request of the Maltese government, the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) rendered assistance Oct. 16 to persons in distress at sea in the central Mediterranean.
Winds and seas were rocking the raft when it was spotted by a Maltese patrol aircraft. Shortly thereafter, the Maltese government contacted several ships in the area, as well as U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, and requested assistance in rescuing the distressed persons.
San Antonio was a little more than 60 nautical miles away when she was directed to assist, and arrived on scene at approximately 6 p.m. local time. Soon after, her crew began transferring the individuals using two 11-man rigid hull inflatable boats.
In all, 128 men between the ages of 20 and 30 were rescued from the raft. San Antonio provided food, water, medical attention, and temporary shelter to all.
Assistance efforts were ongoing as this story was updated at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) is a Royal Australian Navy Adelaide-class frigate, laid down in 1989 and commissioned into the RAN in 1993. She will be replaced by one of the new Hobart-class destroyers (due to commission between 2016-19).
HMAS Newcastle completes counter-terrorism focused operation
In July, HMAS Newcastle completed an intensive counter-terrorism focused operation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden with the multi-national Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
During the focused operation, Newcastle executed 58 boarding actions, three replenishment activities with foreign ships and five deterrence transits of the (BAM).
The BAM, which translated from Arabic means the ‘Gate of Grief’, is a critical choke point that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Southern Red Sea, leading north to the Suez Canal. The narrow body of water is part of a global shipping network that connects the West and the East. It is frequently used by ships travelling from Europe to nations whose maritime boarders are on the Indian Ocean. CTF 150 estimates that between 55 and 65 merchant ships transit the BAM daily.
Principal Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Mike Forsythe described the BAM as a high risk area for terrorism related activities.
“It is high risk because of the width of the strait and the number of small boats that operate in it,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.
“The aims of the coalition and regional partners involved in the focused operation were to build a better understanding of the patterns of life in the area, to deter terrorist activities, and restrict the terrorist’s freedom of movement,” he said.
The boarding actions executed by Newcastle during the focused operation were Approach and Assist Visits (AAV), which are conducted regularly by coalition warships to build rapport with local mariners and seek information on what they may have seen in the area. The visits allow the coalition ships to collect intelligence on patterns of illegal activity.
Newcastle used her S-70-B2 Seahawk helicopter to survey the area of operations to gather intelligence on patterns of life and identify targets for her Boarding Party to visit.
During the focused operation, Newcastle also conducted three replenishment activities with coalition ships, from France and the United States, to take on fuel and stores ensuring that Newcastle could remain in the area and focused on her mission.
The Australian crew battled through 97 percent humidity for more than four hours to complete one of the Replenishment at Sea (RAS) evolutions with the United States Naval Service oiler USNS Patuxent, which included a Heavy Jackstay. Newcastle also conducted her first evening RAS with French Ship (FS) Somme, their third replenishment activity together since Newcastle arrived in the Middle East Area of Operation (MEAO).
The focused operation was a true multi-national affair with the Australian warship interacting with British, French, U.S. and Spanish units.
“The BAM is an important strategic strait to the international community. Without it, ships would have to transit all the way around Africa. We all have an interest in the security of this region,” Lieutenant Forsythe said.
On completion of the counter-terrorism focused operation, Newcastle was assigned to another CTF 150 operation – targeting the smuggling of weapons.
CTF 150 is one of three task forces operated by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 28-nation coalition based in Bahrain. The principle mission of CTF 150 is to deter, disrupt and defeat attempts by international terrorist organisations to use the maritime environment as a venue for attack or as a means to transport personnel, weapons and other materials.
Newcastle is in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) assigned to Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement. Her deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.
The Royal Navy, stretched thin by budget cuts, ship decommissioning, delayed replacement vessels, and increased operational demands, would be hard-pressed to deploy significant assets to Gibraltar.
Navy ‘can’t do a lot’ about Gibraltar
Defence cuts mean the Royal Navy would struggle to send warships to Gibraltar amid tensions with Spain over the Rock, it was claimed today.
The warning comes amid a dispute with Madrid over Gibraltar’s sovereignty.
Relations between the British territory and Spain have deteriorated in recent months in a row over fishing grounds, with Spanish ministers raising the prospect of imposing a £43 levy on vehicles crossing the border and the possibility of closing airspace.
Mike Critchley, a former naval officer and book publisher from Gosport, told The News: ‘In times past the navy would have had a presence down there, but now the navy is tremendously reduced.
‘The navy can’t meet all its commitments.
‘Ships do go there, submarines go there, and there are some small patrol vessels.
‘But it is a difficult situation, we’re talking about two NATO countries, two EU countries, so obviously the government is just going to be watching what happens at the moment.
‘The navy can’t do a lot about it. This has been going on for a while Someone has got to bang heads together.’
The government has insisted there will be no compromise over the sovereignty of Gibraltar, and foreign secretary William Hague has vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with its citizens in response to heightened pressure and increasingly belligerent rhetoric from Madrid.
Last night, Mr Hague reiterated the UK’s commitment to the people of Gibraltar after speaking to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo.
He said: ‘I emphasised to Gibraltar’s elected Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Gibraltar at this time of increasing Spanish pressure and rhetoric.
‘I also highlighted that we will respect Gibraltar’s 2006 Constitution and the commitments the UK has repeatedly made not to compromise on British sovereignty over Gibraltar.
‘We discussed the need for a political solution to the current tension with Spain, which would be firmly in the interests of communities on both sides of Gibraltar’s border with Spain.
‘I call upon Spain to respect the agreements made at Cordoba and to avoid actions which could increase tension further.
‘We agreed that it was important to respond to actions, not rhetoric, and I confirmed that we would continue to raise our concerns with Spain.’
What price a guard ship?
“Helping another mariner at sea is fundamental to our profession…”
USS San Jacinto Aids Turkish Mariner
By USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Public Affairs
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) – Guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) transported a Turkish mariner to U.S. Navy Hospital Sigonella early in the morning of Aug. 4 following a request for assistance from Turkish Navy warship TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasa (A579).
San Jacinto was transiting the Mediterranean Sea conducting routine communications shortly before 11 p.m. local time Aug. 3, when it was hailed by the Turkish warship who requested transportation assistance for a mariner who required immediate medical attention.
San Jacinto responded immediately, heading to the ship’s location.
“Helping another mariner at sea is fundamental to our profession,” said Capt. Bill McKinley, San Jacinto’s commanding officer. “My watch team received the call at more than 130 nautical miles away which is at extreme range for bridge to bridge communications. The watch team immediately made best speed to the position of the Turkish ship while making all the complex arrangements for the medical evaluation.”
Aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), also in the Mediterranean Sea, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) staff coordinated efforts to transport the mariner for medical treatment. Harry S. Truman’s senior medical officer coordinated assistance efforts by providing acute care options to help slow the spread of the illness.
“We provided guidance on how to stabilize the patient until San Jacinto could safely transport the sailor to the nearest military medical facility,” said Cmdr. William Mann, senior medical officer, Harry S. Truman.
Early in the morning Aug. 4, a rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) from San Jacinto transported the mariner from Cezayiril Gazi Hasan Pasa to San Jacinto where a helicopter was standing by to transport him to U.S. Naval Hospital Sigonella, Italy, for medical attention.
The patient is in stable condition at the facility.
McKinley praised his crew for their efforts along with those of the staff aboard Harry S. Truman.
“They performed flawlessly as did the Harry S. Truman Strike Group staff,” he said. This operation once again proves the outstanding flexibility of Sailors and the United States Navy.”
Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, also praised the actions of San Jacinto’s crew.
“The crew of San Jacinto did a fantastic job,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG). “They did everything right, from getting their RHIB in the water and over to the Turkish ship to getting the patient back on board, onto a helicopter and to the hospital for medical attention. San Jacinto was in the right place at the right time and it made a real difference for that individual. Additionally, I was very impressed with the professionalism of the crew of TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasa.”
San Jacinto is deployed as part of HST CSG, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.