USS Churchill Shows Off High-Tec Gear.Navy's latest destroyer, en route to commissioning, polishes skills of its crew
Earlier this year, the U.S. Navy's newest and most potent Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer--the USS USS
1. United States Senate
2. United States ship
USS abbr (= United States Ship) → Namensteil von Schiffen der Kriegsmarine Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81)--sailed from the shipyard in tiny Bath, Maine Bath is a city in Sagadahoc County, Maine, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 9,266. It is the county seat of Sagadahoc CountyGR6. Located on the Kennebec River, Bath is a port of entry with a good harbor. , where it was built, to the huge naval base A naval base primarily for support of the forces afloat, contiguous to a port or anchorage, consisting of activities or facilities for which the Navy has operating responsibilities, together with interior lines of communications and the minimum surrounding area necessary for local at Norfolk, Va., for its commissioning and duty in the Atlantic Fleet A number of countries currently have or previously had an Atlantic Fleet in their navies.
The wintry win·try also win·ter·y
adj. win·tri·er also win·ter·i·er, win·tri·est also win·ter·i·est
1. Belonging to or characteristic of winter; cold.
2. cruise was punctuated with port calls along the way at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard This article is about Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. For Her Majesty's Naval Base Portsmouth, see HMNB Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS), often called the Portsmouth Navy Yard , N.H., and New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. to allow the $1 billion ship to show off the technological marvels stuffed inside its 513 feet-long hull.
During the port calls, the ship's crew conducted public tours of the vessel at dockside, and a few civilian guests--mainly representatives from the defense industry and the news media, including a reporter from National Defense magazine--were invited along for portions of the cruise.
Mindful of the experience of the USS Greeneville, the submarine that collided with and sank a Japanese fishing vessel near Hawaii just days before, the Churchill's crewmembers politely, but firmly kept their visitors away from the ship's controls.
"We don't want anything untoward to happen," explained the Churchill's commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael T. Franken. The Navy is investigating charges that the Greeneville's visitors may have distracted its crew during a critical surfacing maneuver, contributing to the accident, which resulted in nine Japanese citizens being lost at sea and presumed dead.
The voyage also gave the Churchill's 351 officers and enlisted crew members one last opportunity, before commissioning, to polish the skills required to run this latest "grey-hound of the sea," as destroyers are known.
The Churchill is named for Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, best known for his leadership as prime minister of the United Kingdom The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is, in practice, the political leader of the United Kingdom. He or she acts as the head of Her Majesty's Government and like other Prime Ministers in Westminster Systems is (along with his or her , from the darkest days of World War II to the dawn of the Cold War. She is the first U.S. warship warship, any ship built or armed for naval combat. The forerunners of the modern warship were the men-of-war of the 18th and early 19th cent., such as the ship of the line, frigate, corvette, sloop of war (see sloop), brig, and cutter. to be named for an Englishman since the end of the American Revolution American Revolution, 1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence. .
She also is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a British Royal Navy officer assigned as a member of the ship's company. Lt. Angus Essenhigh, of Portsmouth, England, is serving as ship's navigator during his two-year tour of duty. He told National Defense that he volunteered for the job.
"My captain told me that it was available, and I jumped at it," he said. "It's a fantastic opportunity to serve as liaison with any other navy. To serve with the U.S. Navy is pretty unique."
Launched in 1999, the Churchill is the 31st of 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers to be built for the Navy. She is the 18th to be built by Bath Iron Works Bath Iron Works (BIW) is a shipyard located on the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine. Since its foundation in 1884 by Thomas W. Hyde, Bath Iron Works has built private, commercial and military vessels. . The others have been built by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, in Pascagoula, Miss.
Since her launching, the Churchill has been through the slow process of receiving and installing equipment and undergoing a series of arduous sea trials to ensure that she is ready to become a ship of the line A Ship of the Line is a historical seafaring novel by C. S. Forester. It follows his fictional hero Horatio Hornblower during his tour as captain of a ship of the line. .
The testing process is not yet complete, Franken said. The Churchill is scheduled to conduct shock trials in May, followed by a goodwill tour of the United Kingdom, he noted. She will not join the battle fleet until October of 2002.
Already, however, the Churchill is crammed, from stem to stern, with the latest in naval weaponry. She contains several improvements over previous ships of the Arleigh Burke class. For example:
* The Mk 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun System--made by United Defense Armament Systems Division, of Minneapolis--will fire a 5-inch 62-caliber extended-range guided munition (ERGM ERGM Extended Range Guided Munition
ERGM Exponential Random Graph Model ) that is designed to hit precise targets more than 60 nautical miles away.
* Two hangars, not present in earlier destroyers, can house LAMPS (for light, airborne, multipurpose mul·ti·pur·pose
Designed or used for several purposes: a multipurpose room; multipurpose software.
Adjective system) MK III SH-60B Seahawk helicopters, made by the Sikorsky Aircraft Division of the United Technologies Corporation, in Hartford, Conn. The LAMPS MK IIIs can be armed with air-to-surface missiles to attack hostile submarines and missile-equipped surface ships.
* The AN/SPY-1D phased array radar incorporates significant advances in the detection capabilities of the Aegis weapon system, particularly in resistance to enemy electronic countermeasures (ECM (1) (Enterprise Change Management) See version control and configuration management.
(2) (Error Correcting Mode) A Group 3 fax capability that can test for errors within a row of pixels and request retransmission. ).
This high-powered radar can guide more than 100 vertically launched missiles simultaneously to targets as distant as 600 nautical miles. The Churchill carries Tomahawk tomahawk [from an Algonquian dialect of Virginia], hatchet generally used by Native North Americans as a hand weapon and as a missile. The earliest tomahawks were made of stone, with one edge or two edges sharpened (sometimes the stone was globe shaped). , Standard and ASROC ASROC Antisubmarine Rocket (VLA VLA
Very Large Array ) Missiles.
Heart of the System
The AN/SPY-1D is the heart of the Aegis system, which is named for the mythical shield of Zeus. Aegis is a surface-to-air integrated weapons system, designed to defend U.S. ships against any airborne threat. Currently, it is used on two types of vessels, Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke destroyers.
To protect itself against other ships, the Churchill carries six Mk-46 torpedoes, which are fired from two triple-tube mounts.
To provide "last-chance" protection against anti-ship missiles and littoral-warfare threats that have penetrated other defenses, the ship is armed with two Phalanx phalanx, ancient Greek formation of infantry. The soldiers were arrayed in rows (8 or 16), with arms at the ready, making a solid block that could sweep bristling through the more dispersed ranks of the enemy. Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS CIWS Close-In Weapon System (US Navy)
CIWS Compliance Information Web Submission (EPA) ).
The Phalanx--made by the Raytheon Company Electronic Systems, of El Segun-do, Calif.--is a fast-reaction, rapid-fire 20 mm gun system. It features the M-61A1 Gatling gun, which can fire up to 4,500 armor-piercing rounds per minute.
The Phalanx automatically detects, tracks and engages anti-ship missiles and aircraft, while the Block 1 B's man-in-the-loop system counters the emerging littoral warfare threat. This new threat includes small, high-speed surface craft, small terrorist aircraft, helicopters and surface mines.
The terrorist threat was very much on the minds of the Churchill's officers and crew during the cruise. When the ship pulled into New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Harbor--one of the largest, most chaotic in the world--the crew went on heightened alert and stayed there until she cruised out, four days later.
As the Churchill docked at Staten Island's Stapleton Pier, sailors stood guard in the bridge wings, wearing combat helmets and armored vests, armed with loaded M-60 machine guns and carefully scanning every vessel around them. Other sailors, armed with automatic shotguns, patrolled the waters around the Churchill in rigid, rubber rafts, Once the ship docked, heavily armed guards, wearing camouflaged combat clothing, were posted at the entrance to the pier, a long distance from the vessel.
"We're all sensitive to what happened to the USS Cole, and we don't want that to happen to us," said Lt. Cmdr. James Morrison, a public affairs officer assigned temporarily to the Churchill. The Cole was disabled last year in the Middle Eastern port of Aden by a terrorist bombing that killed 17 sailors.
Departing New York, the Churchill demonstrated her agility. She zigxagged through the busy harbor, past slower-moving ships--primarily container and tankers--from ports as distant as Bremen, Monrovia, Nassau and Singapore. Increasing her speed to above 20 knots, she passed beneath the 228 foot-high Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which spans the harbor entrance, with about 18 feet to spare, according to estimates by ship's officers.
Once at sea, the Churchill began testing her new equipment. She shot 19 practice rounds from the Mk 45 Mod 4 gun. The target--a 12 foot cube of red plastic, nicknamed "the killer red tomato"--was about five and a half miles away, too far to be seen with the naked eye.
The gun, which can fire 20 rounds per minute, expended its shells in four rapid bursts. The rounds were inert--meaning they contained no explosives--so a direct hit would have been necessary to damage the target, explained Fire Control Technician Fire Control Technician (abbreviated as FT) is a United States Navy occupational rating.
Fire Control Technicians perform organizational and intermediate level maintenance on submarine combat control systems, equipment, and associated combat control systems test 3rd Class Bill Placek, in the ship's combat information center.
None actually hit the target, although several came within yards. The rounds fell in "a nice grouping," Placek said. "If the rounds had been live, we would have killed the target."
Still, Franken said, the firing "didn't go the way that my people wanted it to go. They wanted to do 'a John Wayne,'" a direct hit.
To dispose of To determine the fate of; to exercise the power of control over; to fix the condition, application, employment, etc. of; to direct or assign for a use.
See also: Dispose the target--and to give the crew some small arms practice--Franken ordered the ship to get close to the killer red tomato. At that point, Gunner's Mate 3rd Class James Jensen, posted on the port bridge wing, received permission to pump it full of holes with 7.62 mm rounds from his M-60 machine gun. The target finally sank beneath the waves, to the cheers of the ship's crew.
The Churchill also practiced helicopter landings, both during the daytime and at night. The purpose of the practice landings, using a Seahawk helicopter from Patuxent Naval Air Station A Naval Air Station is an airbase of the United States Navy. Such bases are used to house Naval Aviation squadrons and support commands. List of Functioning US Naval Air Stations
Because the Churchill contains two hangars that previous destroyers did not have, it is slightly longer than its predecessors. Thus, the wind conditions required for safe landings on the Churchill are a little different and are still being determined.
For hour after hour, in the cold, gray mid-winter daylight and the pitch black of the Atlantic night--broken primarily by the lights on the landing deck--the ship and the helicopter repeated their mating dance.
The maneuver was made difficult, in part, by 46-knot wind gusts, which rocked both the ship and the chopper. Both had to match their motions carefully to achieve each landing.
Another factor was the crew's inexperience. At one point, the nighttime landings had to be postponed briefly, because a critical team member was still in bed. "I'll have words with him," his chagrined supervisor promised.
The incident pointed up the importance of a trained and ready crew. "There's a lot of very fine technology on this ship, but the most important thing about her is the people," said Franken.
Many of the crew are inexperienced, he noted. "For more than half, this is their first ship," he said. Some boarded as recently as December, he noted.
Crewmembers are also young. The average age of enlisted personnel, including senior non-commissioned officers, is 28. Officers are an average of 31 years of age.
A total of 53 crewmembers--including several officers--are women, 15 percent of the whole. Some of the ship's older, male traditionalists are unhappy about their presence. "I'd just as soon they weren't here," said one senior non-coin, who asked not to be identified.
The ship's captain, however, made it clear that women are welcome. "The older generation can't get used to women on ships," said Franken, who graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1981. "But my generation doesn't think twice about it." His replacement as commander of the Churchill is scheduled to be a woman, he said.
The women seem quite comfortable on the ship, although one--Seaman's Apprentice Candice C. Nicholas--said she could use more space. "There's 21 women in my berthing area," she explained. "If you look in the females' lockers, everything is just smashed. The guys just don't bring as much."
All enlisted personnel--men and women alike--have to squeeze all of their belongings into one narrow wall locker apiece and a thin space, a few inches deep, underneath their beds. The beds, called racks, are stacked three high, with less than two feet between them. The top one is six feet off the deck, the bottom, less than a foot. Reading a book in bed is difficult, at best. The only way to get in or out is to roll.
Despite the small spaces, crewmembers eventually have to learn to get along, they explain. "It's like, I may hate your guts," said Placek. "But when we're on liberty, I'll watch your back, and you'll watch mine."
The crowding is made easier, ship's officers said, by the availability of some creature comforts. The Churchill, they noted, offers most of the services associated with a small town, including:
* Two physical-fitness centers.
* A library.
* A bank with an automatic teller machine See ATM. .
* A small store.
* A vending machine.
* Hairdressing hairdressing, arranging of the hair for decorative, ceremonial, or symbolic reasons. Primitive men plastered their hair with clay and tied trophies and badges into it to represent their feats and qualities. services for men and women.
The enlisted mess deck serves three hot meals a day, with a choice of entrees. To help pass long nights at sea, the mess deck is equipped with big-screen televisions, which show movies--such as "Shaft"--every night. A stereo system is available to play music. The CD of choice one night of the voyage was "The Dixie Chicks." On special evenings, such as the night before entering a port, pizza may be served.
The ship's captain does what he can to keep even the day-to-day work entertaining for his crew. "I have to keep these people interested," Franken said. "I have to keep them wanting to do this."
The Churchill is heavily dependent upon information technology, Franken said. "We have 13 LANs on board, without which were sunk," he said. Software is becoming a big, big deal."
To run this sophisticated equipment requires highly trained technicians, Franken said. "But I can't offer the kinds of pay and benefits that they can get from AOL (A division of Time Warner, Inc., New York, NY, www.aol.com) The world's largest online information service with access to the Internet, e-mail, chat rooms and a variety of databases and services. , Microsoft and all the dot coms. I can't compete with them. All I can do is to male this job interesting."
During this voyage, for example, the Churchill joined with another destroyer, the USS Oscar Austin (DDG DDG Guided Missile Destroyer
DDG Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft
DDG Deputy Director General
DDG Drop Dead Gorgeous
DDG Deutsche Dermatologische Gesellschaft (German Society of Dermatologists) 79)--commissioned just last summer--to conduct leapfrog exercises.
The purpose was to practice the skills needed for the ships to refuel re·fu·el
v. re·fu·eled also re·fu·elled, re·fu·el·ing also re·fu·el·ling, re·fu·els also re·fu·els
To supply again with fuel.
v.intr. at sea. During the drill, each ship was required to move up quickly beside the other. The move had to be done carefully to avoid collision. First, one did the maneuver, then the other.
To add an element of fin to the exercise, the captain of the Churchill authorized his crew to attempt to pelt pelt
the undressed, raw skin of a wild animal with the fur in place. If from a sheep or goat there is a short growth of wool or mohair on the skin. the other ship with raw eggs, spray it with a high-pressure water hose, and then speed away to the mucous mucous /mu·cous/ (mu´kus)
1. pertaining to or resembling mucus.
2. covered with mucus.
3. secreting, producing, or containing mucus.
1. sound of the Rolling Stones rock classic, "Satisfaction."
The high jinks went awry, however, when the Austin proved to be too far away to be hit in the high wind. Still, the Churchill's skipper--insisting that "fair is fair"--ordered his ship to slow down and permit the Austin to return fire. The Austin, however, declined.
Those kinds of lighthearted escapades are useful, Navy officers said, in building esprit de corps esprit de corps Graduate education The degree of happiness of the 'campers' in a place on a ship. If so, they seem to have been successful on the Churchill, where junior enlisted sailors told reporters over and over again: "This is the best ship in the Navy. They don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. it yet, but we are going to prove it to them."
The chance for the Churchill's crew to prove themselves was just beginning as the ship cruised into Norfolk and docked along a long line of battleships The list of battleships includes all battleships since 1859, listed alphabetically. The list also contains battlecruisers which share most of the characteristics of a battleship or have otherwise been referred to as battleships. . A few days later, in early March, the USS Winston S. Churchill received her commission, becoming officially the newest destroyer in the fleet.