Looming Navy shuffle to make big waves in region

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With the aid of tugs the aircraft carrier Enterprise eases from Pier 12 at the Norfolk Naval Station March 11, 2012 for the ship's last deployment. <span class='credit'>(Bill Tiernan | The Virginian-Pilot)</span>

With the aid of tugs the aircraft carrier Enterprise eases from Pier 12 at the Norfolk Naval Station March 11, 2012 for the ship’s last deployment. (Bill Tiernan | The Virginian-Pilot)


The Navy’s plans call for 17 of the 71 ships homeported here to be gone by 2017, along with more than 8,300 sailors assigned to them. More than 80,000 sailors still would remain. 


Three ships and about 3,400 sailors are slated to move to the area. The vessels include the carrier Abraham Lincoln, the hospital ship Comfort and a guided missile cruiser. 


The downsizing is driven an aging fleet, a new defense strategy for the Pacific, a commitment to bolster Europe’s missile defense system, and the dispersal of some of the Atlantic fleet to ensure the survival of Florida’s ship repair industry. 


Local ship repair companies expect to lose $450 million in maintenance work and will shed hundreds of jobs. According to economist James V. Koch, the loss of sailors will put a dent in an economy that relies on the military for nearly half its income.

By Bill Bartel
The Virginian-Pilot
© July 29, 2012

One of every five Navy ships in Hampton Roads is slated to be relocated or decommissioned in the next five years, changes that will leave the region with 5,400 fewer sailors, a Virginian-Pilot analysis has found.

The Navy’s plans call for 17 of the 71 ships homeported here to be gone by 2017, along with more than 8,300 sailors assigned to them. The vessels include an aircraft carrier, a half-dozen destroyers, four frigates, four amphibious vessels, a cruiser and a submarine. Additionally, about 440 sailors assigned to two fighter squadrons will transfer from Oceana Naval Air Station to California.

Countering some of the losses, three ships and about 3,400 sailors are slated to move to Hampton Roads.

Several ship and squadron transfers have been announced or noted in public documents, but the figures compiled by The Pilot, which the Navy acknowledged are accurate, show the cumulative impact of the departures: The military’s footprint in Hampton Roads will noticeably shrink, and the local economy will feel the pinch.

For instance, ship repair companies expect to lose about $450 million in maintenance work and will shed hundreds of jobs.

The loss of paychecks and housing allowances from departing sailors will make a dent in a regional economy that relies on the military for almost half its income, said James V. Koch, an economist and former president of Old Dominion University.

“We’ll feel it,” Koch said. “We’re going to have very low rates of economic growth. That’s certainly going to put a clamp on the housing market. There won’t be as many people out there buying homes. We’re talking about a period of economic stagnancy.”

The changes are unrelated to the current Washington debate over hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic defense cuts that some in Congress are attempting to block.

The downsizing is driven by a variety of factors. Those include:

• an aging fleet;

•  a new defense strategy that deploys more Navy resources in the Pacific;

•  a commitment to bolster Europe’s missile defense system;

•  the dispersal of some of the Atlantic fleet to ensure the survival of Florida’s ship repair industry.

The Pentagon’s pivot to the Pacific, announced earlier this year by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, is to protect valued shipping lanes between the United States and emerging Asian nations. It’s also to project American power in the Far East as China builds its military and seeks to exert more influence.

What had been a fairly even division of Navy forces between Atlantic and Pacific fleets will change by 2020 to a 60-40 split favoring the West Coast.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said during a recent Pentagon briefing that the shift to the Pacific is the Navy’s “No. 1 focus.”

Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the Pacific Fleet, told The Associated Press last month that West Coast bases will get the most advanced vessels and aircraft, too.

“It’s not just numbers – it’s also what those platforms, what those units, bring to the table,” Haney said.

Hampton Roads’ fleet will likely grow older as most new ships entering the service head west, said Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.

The region won’t be entirely shut out, but it will get proportionally less than the West Coast, Quigley said.

“There are going to be new destroyers assigned here. There will be new submarines assigned here.”

Peter Daly, a retired rear admiral and executive director of the U.S. Naval Institute, predicted that the continued crisis in the Middle East might slow the Pacific shift.

“It takes six weeks steaming when you really go expeditiously from San Diego up to the Persian Gulf,” Daly said recently while attending the annual Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach.

“You can do it from two to 2½ weeks from here. I think the reality of that will slow down the pace of the 60-40. You have this stated goal, but the realities of the world will drive it.”

The most immediate loss to the West Coast will be the departure of the 40-person staff of Carrier Air Wing 17 from Oceana this year, followed by two yet-to-be-identified squadrons that will transfer in 2014 to Lemoore Naval Air Station in California. Five carrier air wings and 36 squadrons are assigned to Oceana.

At the same time, changes to NATO’s European ballistic missile defense system – sparked by the threat of Iran’s weapons development program – spurred the Navy to announce it will send three destroyers from Norfolk to Rota Naval Station on Spain’s southwest coast. The Ross, Porter and Donald Cook, all with ballistic missile defense capabilities, will move in 2014 and 2015.

The Navy plans to send six Hampton Roads ships to Florida – even as its goal of shifting a Norfolk-based aircraft carrier to Jacksonville is on hold, blocked by Virginia’s congressional delegation.

Navy officials announced last month that the New York, an amphibious transport dock ship, will go to Jacksonville’s Mayport Naval Station next year, followed by the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima and the Fort McHenry, a dock landing ship, in 2014.

Navy leaders have told U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, whose Florida district includes the base, that three Norfolk-based guided missile destroyers will move to Mayport – one next year and two in 2014.

Pentagon officials say the relocations give a needed boost to Florida’s ship maintenance industry, which has lost considerable work in recent years with the shrinking of Mayport’s fleet. The military considers a robust ship repair industry important to national security.

Mayport currently has 16 ships, nine of which are scheduled to be decommissioned over the next four years. The facility had been a conventional carrier base for a half century until the John F. Kennedy was decommissioned in 2007. It is not equipped to handle nuclear-powered carriers.

Navy leaders aren’t giving up on upgrading the base so a nuclear-powered carrier can be stationed there. They insist that dispersal of the East Coast carriers, which are homeported solely in Norfolk, is necessary to protect them from natural disasters and terrorist attacks, and to give the service another nuclear-capable Atlantic homeport in case of emergencies.

In addition to the relocations, eight locally based ships are slated to be decommissioned over the next five years. Included are the carrier Enterprise, four frigates, a guided missile cruiser, a submarine and an amphibious ship.

An effort is under way to block the decommissioning of the Norfolk-based cruiser Anzio. U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, successfully included funding in a defense bill that allocates $462 million for upgrading the Anzio and two other cruisers to keep them in service. The measure passed the House but needs Senate approval.

The decommissioning of the 51-year-old Enterprise later this year after it returns from its final deployment will be offset by the August arrival of the carrier Abraham Lincoln from Everett, Wash.

The Lincoln will be at Norfolk Naval Station before it moves to Newport News Shipbuilding in February for a three-year refueling overhaul.

The ship’s crew of about 3,000 and their families also are moving to Hampton Roads.

Also coming is the hospital ship Comfort from Baltimore to Norfolk. A Mayport-based guided missile cruiser is expected to relocate to Norfolk in 2014.

Officials say the Hampton Roads region, long home to the Navy’s largest base, will remain vital even if fewer ships are based here. More than 80,000 sailors still would be stationed here.

“The Navy’s partnership with the Hampton Roads region is stronger and more important now than ever and will continue to play a critical role in delivering ready forces,” said Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., U.S. Fleet Forces commander. “Our sailors and their families have called Hampton Roads home for over 200 years, and I’m certain they will continue to do so well into the future.”

If the current plans remain in place, the departures won’t be quick. After Ford announced in 2006 it would close its Norfolk truck assembly plant, about 2,400 jobs disappeared within a year. The Navy attrition won’t be that abrupt.

Quigley, of the military facilities alliance, said the regional economy will be better able to absorb the Navy trims.

Koch predicted, however, that the cutbacks will be felt throughout the economy, from storefronts to auto sales to real estate.

“That’s in many ways unfortunate because right now we seem to be turning the corner on housing,” he said.

A downsized Hampton Roads fleet may have the most direct impact on the private contractors that maintain the ships, said Tom Epley, president and CEO of Marine Hydraulics International and chairman of the Virginia Ship Repair Association.

“We feel it’s going to result in permanent job losses of about 650 full-time positions across the waterfront,” Epley said. “You’re talking about blue- and white-collar jobs that pay from $10 an hour for the lowest to $45 an hour for the highest.

“It’s a full range of personnel. Laborers to project managers to purchasers … everybody.”

Hampton Roads’ loss will be someplace else’s gain.

For example, the three-ship amphibious group moving to Mayport will provide $75 million in maintenance contracts for Jacksonville-area ship repair businesses, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said.

Separate from the Navy’s short- and long-range plans, Hampton Roads and other military-rich communities could see deeper cuts beginning in January.

Congress and the White House are sparring over how best to avoid $500 billion in automatic defense budget cuts over 10 years, beginning next year with about $110 billion in reductions. A recent George Mason University study estimated the cuts could result in 200,000 job losses in Virginia.

The looming defense cuts, known as sequestration, are triggered by legislation Congress passed last year when it approved raising the federal debt ceiling. Some lawmakers have said it’s unlikely the issue will be resolved until after the Nov. 6 national elections.

Quigley said Hampton Roads won’t stop being important to the Navy, but changes are coming.

“In a perfect world, I would say a lot of the decisions that are being called for wouldn’t be made in the first place, but that’s not the reality of the world we live in. We will feel those budget pressures in Hampton Roads.”

Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said the reduction of the fleet, while not pleasant, shouldn’t be surprising for a Navy community that for generations has had to endure the ups and downs of deployments and defense funding.

“Our view has been that whatever is in the best interest of national defense and the Navy is in our best interest as well,” said Fraim, whose son-in-law is a Navy pilot heading overseas. “We certainly see them more than just an economic development machine in our community.

“It’s part of who we are.”

Bill Bartel,  757-446-2398, bill.bartel@pilotonline.com

DATABASE | Navy ships in Hampton Roads

The Navy plans to move three Norfolk-based destroyers included in the database to Mayport, Fla., in 2013 and 2014, but has not identified the specific ships. The listing also includes three ships that have not yet arrived and are noted as such. The database was compiled with information from the Navy and Newport News Shipbuilding.


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I hope all the transit oriented development folks pushing light rail will factor this into the equation….but not of course. Yes this has been coming a long time. And the loss of sailors in this article is way underestimated I saw figures of sailors and dependants leaving at 30,000 +.
I am always amazed when estimates to positive economic effects are talked about you see these way high numbers ,when negitive economic impacts are discussed the numbers are so small they almost seem not a problem. But I do not like the ships leaving but I do know the country need these ship on the west coast now….anything else is selfish and not looking out for the USA. We will make it through.


Rescue crews stage exercise for public

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

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Western Morning News

Land’s End was the venue for an action-packed celebration of the county’s air sea rescue service.

Royal Navy personnel from RNAS Culdrose, near Helston, staged the event which featured a daring rescue performed by helicopter crews, along with coastguards and lifeboat volunteers, off the perilous cliffs of the attraction.

  1. The RNLI Tamar-class lifeboat City of London III   and a Sea King search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose put on a  demonstration for the crowds at the Land's End display day

    The RNLI Tamar-class lifeboat City of London III and a Sea King search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose put on a demonstration for the crowds at the Land’s End display day

Visitors were able to climb aboard a Sea King helicopter and see some of the other kit used by the service at home, as well as on the front line in Afghanistan.

Commander John Lea said the event, on Thursday, was a valuable opportunity to meet the public and was especially valuable as Culdrose was not holding its usual Air Day event this year.

“It is very important that the Royal Navy meets with the general public to explain what we do and where we are deployed across the globe,” he said.

“This year, because we have not been able to run our annual Air Day, we thought that it would be a good idea to take some of our people, aircraft and kit out to the various events which are held across Cornwall during the summer holiday season.

“This will give local residents and the many visitors to our county, the chance to chat to sailors and actually have a hands on experience of the Royal Navy.”

David Bryans, General Manager at Land’s End, said it was a great way to show the valuable service.

“We’re delighted to be once again recognising the vital role these organisations play in keeping our part of Cornwall safe and secure,” he said.

“Air Sea Rescue Day at Land’s End just keeps growing and getting better and better, with a fun-packed programme for all the family to enjoy.”

Gotcha! HMCS Victoria torpedoes US navy ship


Simon Kent



sinkexThe USNS Concord went to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in minutes after being hit by a torpedo fired from the submarine HMCS Victoria.

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Better late than never.

Two weeks ago the Royal Canadian Navy achieved something that, as recently as a year ago, many thought impossible: One of its submarines fired a fully armed torpedo.

Not only that, it hit the mark and sank a decommissioned U.S. navy ship in less than 15 minutes.

The submarine was HMCS Victoria and it fired a heavyweight MK48 torpedo as part of RIMPAC naval exercises off the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander RCN, was there to see it for himself. He left nobody in any doubt about the significance of the event.

“This is a clear demonstration of the full weapons capability of the Victoria-class and marks a significant achievement in HMCS Victoria’s return to operations,” said Vice-Admiral Maddison.

“This platform provides Canada with a unique strategic capability unrivalled in stealth, persistence and lethality that can act decisively on and below the surface of the sea at a time and place of the government’s choosing.”

It’s not recorded if he added a sigh of relief, but it would have been understandable if he did.

The sinking of the USNS Concord means Canada’s troubled four-boat submarine fleet may be finally approaching full operational capability, thus ending one of the most troubled defence procurement projects in Canadian military history.

The story began in the 1990s when Canada wanted to replace its 1960s-era diesel-electric Oberon class subs. The boats were reliable, quiet, well crewed and operated but were simply too old to put back in the water.

New submarines seemed an impossible fiscal and strategic dream, because the cost of replacement would have been upwards of half a billion dollars each.

Step forward Britain. The Royal Navy had four slightly used Upholder class diesel-electric subs that it was willing to part with for a mere $188 million each.

Britain launched these boats in the late 1980s, commissioned them between 1990 and 1993, but then mothballed the fleet as the Cold War drew to an end and the RN went solely with nuclear submarines.

So the deal was made in 1998, with delivery of the Upholders to begin in 2000.

Canada decommissioned its Oberons before discovering that the British boats needed more work (removing rust, fixing electrical flaws, installing Canadian compatible equipment and repairing key welds) than anticipated.

The reason for the massive works program was simple. The British had chosen to retire the Upholders rather than upgrade them, so the submarines’ first deep refit work was left to Canada.

Canada also wanted compatibility with its Oberon-legacy MK48 torpedoes rather than replacing them with the British Spearfish torpedoes that the subs had been built for.

Added to the basic refit work was the task of replacing some Upholder systems with fire control devices from the Oberons, a decision that was meant to be economical.

It wasn’t. Canada learnt a multi-million dollar lesson that any other non-nuclear submarine operating country like South Korea, Australia, Germany, Israel or Japan could have told them for free.

Submarine fleets are expensive to buy (even second hand) and even more expensive to run in the long term.

Unsurprisingly, final refit and refurbishment costs for Canada’s renamed Victoria Class soared well past the initial $750-million estimate. This was on top of the initial purchase price.

There was plenty of political flack along the way and a near catastrophic fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi that combined to have some experts predicting in mid-2011 the program would be wound up.

That was then and this is now.

The RCN remains confident it will have three submarines fully operational by 2013. The final one, HMCS Chicoutimi, is expected to be ready by 2016.

That will be good news for Canadian taxpayers, politicians, the RCN and, interestingly enough, our neighbours south of the border.

The U.S. Navy needs to train against diesel-electric subs, but doesn’t operate any. Canada’s next-door fleet will be a much sought after partner for joint naval exercises.

It will also bring back a few memories for the U.S. Navy — maybe not all of them good.

During the 1981 NATO exercise Ocean Venture, an unnamed RCN Oberon class submarine infiltrated one of two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups.

It evaded the screening destroyers and “sank” the carrier USS America without once being itself detected.

Later in the same North Atlantic exercise a second unidentified diesel sub “sank” the carrier USS Forrestal.

This is the experience that RCN submariners are rebuilding with the Victoria class — one torpedo at a time

Allen’s deep-see WWII search

Allen’s deep-see WWII search

Last Updated: 11:33 PM, July 28, 2012

Posted: 11:28 PM, July 28, 2012

Billionaire Paul Allen and his mega-yacht Octopus are embarking on a dramatic ocean expedition with the British Royal Navy after the Olympics wrap in London, Page Six has exclusively learned.

The Microsoft mogul is underwriting a search for a sunken bell that was on the HMS Hood, a battlecruiser downed in 1941 by German battleship Bismarck. The project to rescue the artifact from the largest British ship ever lost in battle, in which 1,415 perished, has been sanctioned by the British government.

The bell, if rescued, will go on display at a new exhibition hall at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, England, to open in 2014, we’re told. “There’s a very small window at this time of year for the operation,” due to weather and other conditions, said a source. But Allen’s “very hopeful they will be successful.”

Paul Allen

The Hood sank in the freezing Denmark Strait, between Greenland and Iceland. For the mission, Allen is teaming with Blue Water Recoveries, the firm that located the Hood wreck in 2001. The massive brass bell is at a location away from the rest of the wreckage, we’re told.

A nautical source says, “The recovery of a ship’s bell has always been important. Bells have been used for centuries on ships for announcing time, and for safety, and are important in tradition of the sea. They are often used in memorials.”

It’s not the first time Allen has used the Octopus — which houses two helicopters, a remote-controlled submersible and a submarine — to search at sea: In April, he lent his boat to find a missing plane in the Pacific. The 414-foot yacht is currently moored at East London’s Canary Wharf. The Royal Navy is expected to announce the mission today.

“[Paul] is allowing . . . use of the Octopus free of charge for this effort, which will allow [the Royal Navy] to present the bell to the British people,” a rep for Allen’s Vulcan Capital told us. “This is a huge collaborative effort, and one we believe will result in a fitting memorial to the ship and the many men lost at sea.”

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/allen_deep_see_wwii_search_AVh41nmb96Yfv45JWJUrCK#ixzz220GBLYXL

China Launches its Largest Patrol Vessel

China Launches its Largest Patrol Vessel
   2012-07-28 19:55:53    Xinhua      Web Editor: Liuyuanhui

Maritime administration officials salute at the launching ceremony of patrol vessel Haixun01, Wuhan of Hubei province, July 28, 2012. [Photo: Xinhua]

China launched its largest and most advanced patrol vessel Haixun01 on Saturday in Wuhan, a city in central China’s Hubei province, in a move to maintain its marine sovereignty and enhance its rescue efficiency.

Haixun01 is the first Chinese patrol vessel to simultaneously incorporate marine inspection and rescue functions. It will carry out missions regarding maritime inspection, safety monitoring, rescue, oil spill detection and handling, said Xu Guoyi, head of the Shanghai Maritime Bureau, which will manage the ship. 

It is expected to be put into service by the end of this year, Xu said. 

The 5,418-tonnage Haixun01 is 128.6 meters in length. Its sailing speed is 37 km per hour and has a maximum sailing distance of 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km) without refueling, said Tang Gongjie, general manager of Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Company Ltd, the builder of the ship. 

The ship can accommodate 200 people rescued at sea and will be equipped with devices to offer basic medical treatment and surgeries. The vessel also has a helipad so airborne search and rescue missions can be carried out from it. 

In addition to rescue missions, the vessel is able to tow ships as well as put out fires on other boats. 

The operation of Haixun01 will improve the standard of China’s maritime administration equipment and is conducive to maintaining China’s maritime safety, protecting the maritime environment and safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty, said Huang He, deputy head of the maritime bureau of the Transport Ministry.

China currently has two 3,000-tonnage patrol vessels, Haixun 11 and Haixun 31, and a 1,500-tonnage patrol vessel, Haixun 21, to handle maritime inspection, salvage and maritime traffic management in the country’s coastal waters.

American basic cadet training’s most grueling test began with a rugby chant. – “Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora, Ka ora,” they proclaimed, parrying their rifles and each muzzle into ghost targets. “Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora, Ka ora.”

Basics ‘home free’ after torture test at Air Force Academy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The fading pigment of purple lined the bottom of Victoria Yeaste’s left eyelid, highlighted by a scabbed-over cut millimeters away.

The shiner was a painful reminder of the 18-year-old’s first encounter with combat training.

Hundreds of Air Force Academy “basics” walked out of Jacks Valley on Saturday — a right of passage signaling the end of field training and the final phase of their sweat-laden introduction to the Air Force.


They marched en route to their final week of basic cadet training, which ends Saturday. But before any “basics” could leave Jacks Valley, each faced a grueling test in the woods a few miles of the terrazzo.

The assault course — a dirt trail laden with obstacles, smoke bombs and a “cadre” of upperclassmen yearning to put a hurt on the academy’s latest recruits — marks the hardest physical challenge for each “basic” during field training.

Yeaste’s black eye offered a hint of the challenge she faced.

During a practice run through the course, a fellow cadet accidentally kicked the Lawrenceburg, Ky. native when they were told to drop to the ground for a “grenade” drill — an exercise forcing “basics” to fall on their bellies and get back up as quick as possible.

“We made a nice connection,” Yeaste said, grinning.

For Charlie Flight of Demons Squadron — a group of about 25 “basics” hailing from across the country — the test came three days before leaving Jacks Valley.

“Get through the A-course and you’re home free,” said Nelson Onwuzu, a “basic” from Tyler, Texas. “The rest is cake.”


Roughly 50 boots belonging to “basics” in Charlie Flight stomped the ground in unison, kicking up dirt. Three seconds and four stops later, the “basics” finally spoke up through the dust.

“Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora, Ka ora,” they proclaimed, parrying their rifles and each muzzle into ghost targets. “Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora, Ka ora.”

Basic cadet training’s most grueling test began with a rugby chant.

The course is the centerpiece of field training meant to test the elementary combat skills and endurance taught during the “basics’” stay at Jacks Valley, where cadets spend two of their five weeks of basic cadet training learning elementary combat skills.

Academy officials counted 1,035 recruits when basic cadet training began on June 28. When the flight marched into Jacks Valley nearly two weeks ago, 997 remained.

The assault course occasionally weeds out a few more. The academy counted 992 “basics” remaining when Charlie Flight readied for their turn through the course.

Charlie Flight would face an untold number of exercises later in the day for their impromptu show of gumption. That bit of initiative showed the camaraderie they’ve developed. But “basics” also need to learn the central tenant of basic cadet training: Turning high school leaders into followers willing to take orders.

“It’s kind of like: Break them down individually and build them up as a team,” said Brandon Eaves, 20, an upperclassmen who helped oversee Wednesday’s activities. “It’s kind of like a war between us and them … it’s who’s stronger.”

The “cadre,” though, waited to tip their hand.

Looking to burn off a bit of that extra energy before the assault course, the “cadre” ordered a pugil stick competition — a bout between two “basics” wielding foam-padded sticks used to clobber each other in a dirt ring.

Grins on their faces, the “cadre” matched the tallest “basics” with the shortest.

A “mighty” 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, Vincent Webbe soon found himself battling a 6-foot-4, 235-pound football recruit inside the ring.

A few thumps by Webbe’s opponent — Dan Menendez, 19, from Chicago, Ill. — was all it took to end the match.

“To be truthful, I want a rematch,” Webbe gripped, a smile on his face.

He soon learned to savor those extra moments of rest.


Red smoke rose in the woods south of Charlie Flight. The sound of grenades echoed.

Minutes before entering the assault course, Nick DeJulio, 22, a cadet entering his senior year, ordered his “basics” to dodge dozens of “grenades.” He ordered lunges, squats and low crawls. Then came pushups.

“You don’t want people to go ‘Oh, it was easier when you were here,’” DeJulio said.

Crawling through the dirt, the “basics” in Charlie Flight began sounding a different chant. Gasping through the dust, the cadets sang “I love the Air Force” over and over — a final ode to their “cadre” before plunging into the course.

First came a countless string of “grenade” drills, followed by a crawl beneath barbed wire that grew progressively closer to the ground.

“Get your face in the dirt,” a cadre member yelled. “I don’t want to look at your face.”

A series of wood-beam hurdles followed, leading the way to rifle parry exercises, tunnels and a second rifle maneuver requiring “basics” to thrust the muzzle of their rifle into a foam dummy.

Before they could reach any of that, one cadre member had a question for Webbe.

The “basic” beside him served as his “battle buddy” of the moment. That basic just happened to be Menendez, who administered the earlier beating.

All the cadre wanted to know was Menendez’ hometown. Webbe hesitated.

“Grenade,” the “cadre” yelled, swift punishment for Webbe’s inattention to detail.

A 20-yard ditch covered with a tarp lay ahead, followed by a stern-faced “cadre” member unimpressed with the youth before her.

Noticing one “basic” barely holding onto his rifle, she grabbed the weapon and frowned.

“What do we need to do to get this rifle back,” she asked.

“16 pushups,” another “basic” replied.

Nodding her head, she agreed — only to bark out a few more commands.

“Stop acting tired,” she yelled. “You’re not tired.”

A six-foot tall wall greeted cadets who “duck walked” 30 yards away from the ill-contented “cadre,” followed by a crawl beneath more barbed wire.

Exhausted, some “basics” tried to butter-up the “cadre”, in the hopes of escaping more pushups. Two cadets recited an old Chris Farley routine, remarking the greatness of former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka. Their breathless jokes earned a couple smiles — and more “grenades.”

Yeaste and her battle buddy, Miranda Bray, 18, also remembered trying a few jokes.

“Sir, oxygen and potassium went on a date,” Yeaste recalled. “It was OK.”

“The ones that failed chemistry didn’t like the oxygen one,” Bray said.

Most simply put their head down and accepted the fate of physical pain.

“They keep pushing because they see the end,” Eaves said. “The one thing you want to do is finish.”

A crawl through a mud-filled pit, two more walls and countless more “grenade” drills left them at the final obstacle: Several “cadre” and a short wall leading to relaxation — and a shower.

Webbe cleared it fine. Yeaste escaped uninjured as well — embracing her “battle buddy” as she crawled over the final wall about 45 minutes after beginning the course.

Menendez, however, neared the final obstacle with one arm at his side, limp.

Clearing the wall, he cursed. He felt the shoulder pop out of socket during a “grenade” drill dozens of yards before the finish line.

His shoulder dislocated, Menendez still managed a smile.

“I wanted to finish,” Menendez said. “I want to be a cadet. I came here for a reason.”

In Mojave, the world’s most exciting planes take flight

In Mojave, the world’s most exciting planes take flight

From the Air Force to NASA, commercial airplane storage to the first private spacecraft, the Mojave is the center of aviation. CNET Road Trip 2012 braved the summer heat to check it out.

  July 28, 2012 4:00 AM PDT

A look at NASA’s X-48C, the prototype of the all-new genre of planes, the hybrid wing body aircraft. The plane is located at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, in California’s Mojave Desert.

(Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)

MOJAVE DESERT, Calif.–It’s hard to imagine a more complete — and impressive — collection of aviation facilities and aircraft anywhere on the planet than the one in this vast, arid, wide-open wasteland northeast of Los Angeles.

Thanks to its endless amounts of dry, flat terrain, useless to most people, and the fact that there are only a few ways in — vital for security — the Mojave is, and has long been, the beating heart of the aviation world. It’s here that Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier. And where Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne ushered in the private space travel era. Space shuttles used to land here. Hundreds of unused commercial airliners are parked here. And the world’s best test pilots train here.

Welcome to the Mojave Desert, an area that takes up nearly 48,000 square miles, mostly in California, but also in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. It is the perfect place to experiment with, fly, and store airplanes.

This summer, as part of Road Trip 2012, I spent quite a bit of time checking out facilities in the Mojave — Edwards Air Force Base, the Mojave Air and Space Port, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, and the Southern California Logistics Airport, in search of the heart of aviation. If you’ve ever been there, you know I found it.

Ideas for English Language Learners | The Summer Olympics

Ideas for English Language Learners | The Summer Olympics






We’re announcing a new regular feature on the Learning Network today: “Ideas for E.L.L.s,” a monthly selection of New York Times articles, infographics, videos and photographs that are especially accessible for English language learners around the globe — and that could, of course, be useful for any learner for whom Times content can be difficult.

We’ve asked Larry Ferlazzo, a California teacher, author and “edublogger,” to be our curator. This month, he starts by choosing Times pieces around a single theme: the Summer Olympics. (In the coming months, he’ll choose content around a range of topics.)

Let us know what you think: we often try out new features in the summer, and hearing from our audience is invaluable in thinking about how they should work once the new school year begins.




Teaching With the Olympics: Ideas for English Language Learners

The Olympics offer countless opportunities for learning. With most countries in the world participating, the Games are especially interesting for E.L.L.s since it’s likely that every student will have a representative from his or her native country participating.

Here is a selection of Times pieces, along with ideas for teaching with them. But remember: new photographs, articles, videos and infographics will be published daily throughout the Games. You can find them all here, in The Times’s London 2012 special section.

The Learning Network is also offering quizzes, crosswords and more on the Games: scroll through posts tagged “Olympics (2012)” to find them all. For instance, you might invite your students to post their answers to the special Student Opinion question, “What Are Your Favorite Summer Olympic Sports and Athletes?”


Oscar Pistorius, Lex Gillette, Michael Phelps…and Perseverance:Mr. Pistorius is the first amputee to compete in the Olympics. Show this photo, read all or part of the article accompanying it (depending on the English proficiency of the students), and show this short video of him running.

Use his story to teach the word “perseverance,” and explain that it has also been found to be one of the central qualities of a successful language learner. Ask students what they think drives Mr. Pistorius to achieve. Make a list of the reasons that students give, then have them share what drives them to learn English or overcome any other challenge.

Excerpts from this Times Magazine feature story on Mr. Pistorius could also be adapted as a high-interest “read-aloud” (that is, a short passage shown to students on an overhead projector and read by the teacher) followed by simple prompts about the passages. Teachers could also ask students if they think Mr. Pistorius has an “unfair advantage,” as some have said.

This article, or excerpts from it, on Lex Gillette, a blind long-jumper in theParalympics (which takes place immediately after the Olympics, for athletes with a physical disability), can also be used in this lesson, as can many of the other inspiring stories of athletes and the challenges they overcame on their way to the Games. For example, students may not realize that Olympics superstar Michael Phelps struggles with A.D.H.D.

As the Games continue, students might be assigned to look through the Times special Olympics section daily or weekly to find more stories of perseverance.

Archery and ‘The Katniss Effect’: Archery has been generating more public interest as a result of the popular “Hunger Games” book and movie, asthis article reports.

Teachers could share the article, and ask students to discuss times they’ve been inspired to do or create by something they have read or seen in a movie, on television or in a book. With this article or any other, students can also use a free Web tool like Bounce (or sticky notes on hard copies of the article) to demonstrate reading strategies, like making a connections to their lives or another text they have read, visualizing by drawing a picture, writing a question or summarizing in a few words. (The Learning Network also has agraphic organizer that helps students connect Times articles to their lives.)

Profiling Athletes: The Times has many excellent profiles on athletes at this summer’s Olympics, including ones on the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia, the second African-American female swimmer from the United States, a former Sudanese “Lost Boy” also competing for the United States and a “superman” Japanese gymnast. Watch the special Olympics page for more as the Games continue.

Introduce some of these athletes to students. Then, have them choose to research and make a simple report — perhaps in the style of a trading card — on this athlete or a competitor of their choosing, who may or may not be from their native country. (The free tools at Big Huge Labs can help students make them online.)

And don’t forget, as they watch the Games, any student over the age of 13 is invited to post an answer to the question “What Are Your Favorite Summer Olympic Sports and Athletes?” here on The Learning Network.

Gorging, Then Working It Off: Have students read “Why Some Olympic Athletes Need to Gorge” and show the accompanying graphics illustrating how much food athletes have to eat after working out.

Next, have students make a list of what they ate during their last meal or during the last 24 hours. Then, have them visit the Calorie King Web site, which reports how many minutes you have to jog, walk, swim or bicycle to “work-off” the calories from each food item you eat. Finally, have students make a poster showing a goal of one thing they would want to eat less of, along with one exercise they would want to do more of. Have them share it with classmates. (The Learning Network has a whole collection of other food-related lessons.)

Made in China: Explain that there has been a controversy about the fact that the American athletes’ opening ceremony uniforms have been made in China.

Ask students to go home, and look at the tags of their clothes to see where they have been manufactured. The next day, students could identify the origins on individual maps, look for patterns and explore what the reasons might be for those patterns. For fun, students could also look at photos of older Olympic uniforms. Which are the best? Which are the worst? Why?


The Times has many Olympics-related videos, and most can be found in aspecial Olympics playlist. Good language development activities that can be used with these videos include:

The Language Experience Approach: In this process, an entire class does an activity together, like watching a short video, then discusses and writes about it. Immediately after watching the video, students are given a short time to write down notes about what they saw. (Very early beginners can draw.) Then, the teacher calls on students to share what they saw. The teacher then writes down responses on a document camera, overhead projector or easel paper.

Asked and Answered: Students watch a short video clip and write questions about it. They break into pairs, exchange their papers and answer their partner’s questions. Students exchange papers again and “grade” their partner’s answers.

Some videos that might work particularly well for these activities include:

Who Inspires You? This video is about a track star from the African nation of Botswana who is inspiring girls across the continent. Students could watch it, then create a poster about someone who inspires them, explaining why. Next, have students share their work in small groups, and have each student ask a question of the person who is presenting.


There are countless dramatic Olympics-related photos in The Times, bothhistoric and current, and many ways to use them with English language learners. Here are just a few:

Comebacks: Students could be shown this slide show on athletes who are making “comebacks” during these Olympics. The teacher can explain that “comeback” can mean returning to an activity after a long absence, or trying again after failing. Whom have they read about who has made a comeback? Whom do they know personally who has done something like this? Have they themselves “come back” after failing at something? What drives people to make comebacks in general?

Thought Bubbles: Teachers could have students add “thought bubbles” to photographs of people to “say what’s unsaid” by writing what they imagine those pictured might be thinking or saying in that moment.

For example, students could be shown these famous Olympics photos from the past and asked “What do you think the people in these photos were thinking?” For advanced students with whom you could add a meta-cognitive level, you might ask them to also explain why they believe the athletes were thinking it.

previous Learning Network post shares several other ways to incorporate photos in lessons, and many could easily be adapted for E.L.L.’s.

Souvenir Photo Essay: Define the word “souvenir” for students, and show them the Times slide show “London 2012 in Souvenirs.” Explain to students what some of the more common objects are.

The Times is asking people to send in photos of old Olympic “keepsakes,” and explain what memories they hold. Teachers can do their own variation by asking students to take a moment to remember special souvenirs that they have brought home from their travels, including items they might have brought to the United States from their country. Students can then draw images or take photographs of them and explain to the class what they are, and what memories they hold. You might then create a gallery of these images in the classroom.

Interactive Infographics

Step-by-Step: Use the interactive tutorials showing the steps involved inrunning the hurdles, taking on the vault and doing the handoff in a relay race. When students watch these events live, can they now better see the mechanics of each sport in action?

After showing these examples, ask students to create their own step-by-step tutorials to explain any task or skill they are well-versed in, athletic or not. The tutorial could be performed before the class or in a small group, drawn out as a storyboard, videotaped or even created online using an tool likeTildee.

Medal Math: Students could research the number of medals their native country or continent has won over the years though this infographic. They could then write a short explanation about what they learned and discuss it with their classmates. Students could even try to summarize what they found in an infographic of their own design.



Some Previous Learning Network Posts for E.L.L. Students:

Russia denies plans for new navy bases abroad

Russia denies plans for new navy bases abroad

Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov seen in the Chinese port of Qingdao on 23 April 2012, ahead of Chinese-Russian naval exercises (file picture)Russia has been seeking a greater international role for its navy.

Related Stories

Russia’s Defence Ministry has denied reports Moscow its planning to set up its first new overseas navy bases since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Earlier, a news agency quoted Russia’s navy chief as saying that Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles were being considered as possible sites.

But the ministry said that Vice Adm Viktor Chirkov had never made the alleged remarks.

A lack of money after 1991 led to the closure of most Russian bases abroad.

It closed a base in Vietnam in 2002, and currently has bases only in Ukraine and Syria. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to restore Russia’s military might.

In recent years, Moscow has expanded its navy’s operations overseas, including by taking part in international anti-piracy operations near Somalia.

“It’s true that we are continuing work on providing the navy with bases outside the Russian Federation,” the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Vice Adm Chirkov as saying in an interview.

According to the agency, he added that Moscow was “working out the issue of creating sites for material and technical support on the territory of Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam”.


However, the defence ministry later insisted Vice Adm Chirkov had said no such thing, and that the subject had not been broached during the interview.

“Issues concerning international relations are not part of the responsibilities of the commander-in-chief of the navy,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

It added that the reported remarks were a “fantasy of their author, who preferred to prioritise sensationalism above competency and professional ethics”.

In 2002, during Mr Putin’s first term as president, Russia pulled out of the Cam Ranh base in Vietnam, opened in its then-communist ally at the height of the Cold War in 1979.

The closure came after the the original 25-year lease expired and Vietnam demanded a higher rent, but analysts say a desire to improve relations with the United States also played a role.

The country’s remaining overseas bases are in Sevastopol, in Ukraine, where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is housed, as well as a small logistical support base in the Syrian port of Tartus.




 About the Navy

As an Island nation, our prosperity and security is totally dependent on our ability to access the sea. The UK is reliant on a stable global market for the raw materials, energy and manufactured goods which underpin our way of life and, in a globalised world, we must have the ability to respond to any event that threatens our economy or national interests.

This set of documents will help you understand how the Royal Navy is protecting your interests now and in the future: 



Futur Navy 


RN Core 


RM Vision 


Current Operations 


Cross Goverment


Global Trade


Rn and Libya


RN and Middle east


Surface Fleet




Fleet Air Arm






Royal Marines