April 30, 2012
On Wednesday March 28, 2012, JINSA officers and members returned from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The trip was JINSA’s first military base visit of 2012 and was led by Rear Admiral Terence E. “Terry” McKnight, USN (ret), a member of JINSA’s Board of Advisors.
The JINSA delegation hosted senior officers from the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Forces Command at a dinner the preceding evening. Adm. McKnight introduced Rear Admiral Philip Davidson, Director for Global Force Management, Operations, and Intelligence (N3/N2), who gave remarks about the state of the U.S. Fleet. Over the course of his remarks, Adm. Davidson provided examples of how the United States Navy is engaged in every time zone in the world, from flying air support in Afghanistan, protecting our assets in the Mediterranean and maintaining a presence in the Persian Gulf, coming to port in Haifa, and providing humanitarian support in the Caribbean.
Rear Admiral Herman Shelanski, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, who spoke at JINSA’s National Security Round Table in January, and Commander Neil Koprowski, captain of the USS San Antonio (LPD-17), also joined the 24-member delegation at the dinner.
On Wednesday, Commander Koprowski led a full tour of the USS San Antonio, a 684 ft., 25,000-ton amphibious transport dock ship designed to transport and land up to 800 Marines and their amphibious vehicles. The delegation split into two groups to enjoy lunch on board, the first in the officers’ wardroom and the second in the enlisted mess. Nonetheless, both groups appreciated the Wednesday tradition of “sliders,” even if Admiral McKnight’s favorite, the “autodog” (soft serve ice cream) was unavailable.
Trip participants had the opportunity to converse with sailors and junior officers about the progression of the San Antonio, the lead ship of her class. She was commissioned in 2003 and first deployed in 2008. It was fascinating for the participants to hear from the crew about the San Antonio’s progression from those early years full of engineering challenges to winning the Navy’s Battle Effectiveness award in March 2012.
After lunch, the JINSA group traveled to the other side of the sprawling Norfolk base to visit with the Helseacombitron-9 (HSC-9) Tridents, a helicopter squadron attached to the Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), of the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). The Tridents’ mission includes Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) (attacking surfaced submarines and ships); Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR); support of Special Operations; and Vertical Replenishment. Squadron Commander Brian Pummill met with JINSA and made several of the squadron’s MH-60S helicopters available for viewing.
JINSA members also received an impressive tour of the USS Mitscher (DDG-57), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the first warship commanded by an African-American woman, Commander Monika W. Stoker. Named for famed World War II Admiral Marc Mitscher, the ship carries two Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems loaded with SM-2 medium range surface-to-air missiles and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles as well as the RUM-139 VL-ASROC anti-submarine missile. The JINSA group visited the weapons control center as well as the ship’s bridge. The Mitscher has been particularly active in anti-piracy missions off the Horn of Africa.
A highlight of the trip was a visit onboard the USS Montpelier (SSN-765), an improved Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine.
David Justman, Co-Chairman of JINSA’s Board of Advisors and a vice president of the organization, stated, “The visit to Norfolk Naval Base is necessary to reinforce by boots on the ground. Our Navy is technologically advanced, deploys the most lethal weapons systems, and is manned by dedicated, professional, and patriotic sailors and officers.”