From Sea to Space: NASA Selects Three Sailors for 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class

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Three Sailors are on their way to join the growing list of Navy astronauts!

NASA announced June 7 that Lt. Kayla Barron, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick and Dr. Jonny Kim were selected from a record breaking 18,300 applicants to join its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class of just 12 people.

2017 NASA astronaut candidates. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
2017 NASA astronaut candidates. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Barron, Dominick and Kim as well as their fellow astronaut candidates will return to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in August to begin two years of training. Then, they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Get to know them below!

Lt. Kayla Barron

As a submarine warfare officer, Lt. Kayla Barron was a member of the first class of women to join the submarine community. The Washington native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering in 2010. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Lt. Kayla Barron (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Lt. Kayla Barron (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Her graduate research focused on modeling the fuel cycle for a next-generation, thorium-fueled nuclear reactor concept. Following graduate school, Barron attended the Navy’s nuclear power and submarine officer training before being assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine homeported in Bangor, Washington. Barron qualified as a submarine warfare officer and completed three strategic deterrent patrols while serving as a division officer aboard Maine. At the time of her selection, Barron was serving as the Naval Academy’s superintendent’s flag aide.

Barron has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit commendations. She is a Trident Scholar and distinguished graduate of the Naval Academy.

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Barron will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick, a Colorado native, earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He has accumulated more than 1,600 flight hours in 28 aircraft models, 400 carrier arrestments, 61 combat missions and nearly 200 flight test carrier landings (arrested and touch-and-go).

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Dominick was commissioned through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2005 and reported to Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. He was designated as a naval aviator in 2007 and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 106, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, for transition to the F/A‑18E Super Hornet. Following his initial training, Dominick was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 143. He made two deployments to the North Arabian Sea, flying close air support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While with Strike Fighter Squadron 143, Dominick was selected to attend the Naval Postgraduate School / U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Co-Operative Program, where he earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Designated a developmental test pilot in 2013, Dominick was assigned to the fixed wing carrier suitability flight test department of Air Test Evaluation Squadron 23. There, he served as developmental flight test project officer for a variety of carrier suitability test programs, including MAGIC CARPET, Joint Precision Approach & Landing Systems, Infrared Search and Track Pod, and the precision approach and landing certification of aircraft carriers. He flew developmental flight tests in the F/A-18ABCD, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G. Additionally, he contributed to the X-47B (Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike), V‑22, T-45, E-2C, C-2A and F-35C test programs.

In 2016, Dominick returned to an operational naval squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 115, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets in the forward deployed naval forces stationed in Atsugi, Japan.

At the time of his selection as an astronaut candidate in June 2017, Dominick was at sea aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) serving as the department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

Dominick was the 2015 Naval Test Wing Atlantic Test Pilot of the Year. He has been awarded the Strike Flight Air Medal (three awards); Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards)

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Dominick will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment.

Dr. Jonny Kim

Dr. Jonny Kim (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Dr. Jonny Kim (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)

Dr. Jonny Kim, a California native, trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in Mathematics at the University of San Diego and a Doctorate of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Kim enlisted in the Navy as a seaman recruit following graduation from Santa Monica High School in 2002. After completion of training at Naval Special Warfare, he was assigned as a special warfare operator to SEAL Team 3. He served as a combat medic, sniper, navigator and point man on more than 100 combat operations spanning two deployments to the Middle East before he was commissioned into the Medical Corps following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2012.

At the time of his selection in June 2017, Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine.

Kim’s military decorations include the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; and various other service awards.

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Kim will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment.

Comment below to join us in congratulating these Sailors!


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From Sea to Space: NASA Selects Three Sailors for 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class

2017 DoD Warrior Games: Recognizing Hidden Heroes

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By Vice Adm. Mary Jackson
Commander, Navy Installations Command

While the Warrior Games are primarily focused on the athletes and their challenging experiences and inspiring accomplishments, we also acknowledge and recognize the tremendous dedication and support of the “hidden heroes” – spouses, family and caregivers who have made their own sacrifices to help our warrior athletes with their recovery and athletic successes.

Ida Malone, left, helps her husband, Navy Chief Petty Officer Averill Malone, stretch before bicycling during the Navy’s training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games at Ventura County Naval Station Port Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., May 31, 2015. Ida is also a caregiver for her husband, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)
Ida Malone, left, helps her husband, Navy Chief Petty Officer Averill Malone, stretch before bicycling during the Navy’s training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games at Ventura County Naval Station Port Hueneme in Oxnard, Calif., May 31, 2015. Ida is also a caregiver for her husband, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)

On this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we honor our Wounded Warriors’ loved ones who partner and make their own sacrifices on the path of recovery.

For our warrior athletes, our hidden heroes put forth a tremendous amount of effort behind the scenes, day-in and day-out, to support the growth and progress of their loved one’s spiritual and physical healing. Transition is not easy, but these individuals are the co-pilots who make the voyage possible and so much smoother.

Families and caregivers are an essential element in an athlete’s recovery and rehabilitation, and they are an important part of the DoD’s adaptive sports program, which provides reconditioning activities and competitive athletic opportunities to all wounded, ill and injured service members to improve their physical and mental quality of life throughout the continuum of recovery and transition. Our hidden heroes provide support, encouragement and motivation on a regular basis. In turn, athletes motivate their families, caregivers and teammates, and inspire their communities.

We are thankful to Fisher House Foundation, one of the 2017 Warrior Games presenting sponsors, for supporting our hidden heroes. Fisher House is our family program sponsor and is directly supporting the logistics for athletes’ families to attend the Warrior Games.

Coast Guard Lt. Sancho Johnson’s son helps his father out of a tight spot while on a bike ride for the Navy’s wounded warrior training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, May 30, 2015. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)
Coast Guard Lt. Sancho Johnson’s son helps his father out of a tight spot while on a bike ride for the Navy’s wounded warrior training camp for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, May 30, 2015. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom/Released)

To spouses and loved ones of our military members and of our wounded, ill or injured warriors, we say, “Thank you” for all you do. We are humbled by your commitment and dedication to serving your nation in this important role.

For more information about the DoD’s adaptive sports program visit, http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/carecoordination/masp.

For more information about the Warrior Games, please visit http://dodwarriorgames.com and be sure to “like” us and follow the games
on Facebook.


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2017 DoD Warrior Games: Recognizing Hidden Heroes

Future USS Indiana (SSN 789) Christening Ceremony

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Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the christening of our newest Virginia-class fast attack submarine, the future USS Indiana (SSN 789).

The ceremony is scheduled for April 29 at 11 a.m. EDT at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Newport News, Virginia.

Vice President Mike Pence, who previously served as the 50th governor of Indiana, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Diane Donald, wife of retired Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion from 2004 to 2012, is serving as the ship’s sponsor. 

Webcast courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries

“The christening of the future USS Indiana brings this technological marvel one step closer to joining the world’s preeminent submarine force.”
– Sean Stackley, Acting Secretary of the Navy.

The official crest of the Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789). (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)

SSN-789 is the 16th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the sixth Virginia-class Block III submarine.

The submarine, which began construction in 2012, will be the third U.S. Navy ship to be christened with the name Indiana. The first Indiana (BB 1), the lead ship of her class of battleship, served in the North Atlantic and later participated in the blockade of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War. The second Indiana (BB 58) was a South Dakota-class battleship that earned nine battle stars for her service in the Pacific Theater in World War II. BB-58 fought in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and participated in the invasions of Tarawa, Kwajalein and Okinawa, and bombarded Saipan, the Palau Islands, the Philippines and Iwo Jima.

This next-generation attack submarine provides the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority well into the 21st century.

For more information, visit Navy.mil.

Join the #USNavy conversation on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Flickr.


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Future USS Indiana (SSN 789) Christening Ceremony

Your Navy Operating Forward – Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 makes an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 makes an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) transits the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) transits the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
AT SEA: A littoral battlespace sensing-glider (LBS-G) is deployed from a Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) T-AGS 60-class vessel. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
AT SEA: A littoral battlespace sensing-glider (LBS-G) is deployed from a Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) T-AGS 60-class vessel. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch)
GULF OF ADEN: An AH-1 Cobra prepares to launch off the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) during Exercise Alligator Dagger. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Chavez)
GULF OF ADEN: An AH-1 Cobra prepares to launch off the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) during Exercise Alligator Dagger. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Chavez)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An E2-C Hawkeye assigned to the Screwtops of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert J. Baldock)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An E2-C Hawkeye assigned to the Screwtops of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert J. Baldock)
Arabian Gulf: The mine countermeasure (MCM) ship USS Devastator (MCM 6) rafts with RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) during U.K.-U.S. Mine Countermeasures Exercise 17-1. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Corbin J. Shea)
ARABIAN GULF: The mine countermeasure (MCM) ship USS Devastator (MCM 6) rafts with RFA Lyme Bay (L3007) during U.K.-U.S. Mine Countermeasures Exercise 17-1. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Corbin J. Shea)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) make preparations for a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor A. Elberg)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) make preparations for a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor A. Elberg)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) transits through the Strait of Bonifacio. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) transits through the Strait of Bonifacio. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
ARABIAN GULF: A Sea Ark patrol boat, center, leads a Mark VI patrol boat, left, and a Coastal Command boat, right, assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.7, as the boats transit in an echelon formation in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Burns)
ARABIAN GULF: A Sea Ark patrol boat, center, leads a Mark VI patrol boat, left, and a Coastal Command boat, right, assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.7, as the boats transit in an echelon formation in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Burns)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dusty Dogs of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 transfers munitions from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) to the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dusty Dogs of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 transfers munitions from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) to the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 fly in formation above the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) during flight operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert J. Baldock)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 fly in formation above the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) during flight operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert J. Baldock)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailors conduct pre-flight checks on an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Kledzik)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Sailors conduct pre-flight checks on an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Kledzik)

Tell us which photo best shows YOUR Navy Operating Forward !


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Your Navy Operating Forward – Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf

U.S. Navy Ocean Gliders: Unmanned Underwater Vehicles That Are Improving Our Understanding of the World’s Oceans

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By Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet
Oceanographer of the Navy
Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command

In the wake of multiple news reports about U.S. Navy ocean gliders, there have been numerous questions about these instruments and what they do for the U.S. Navy.

AT SEA (July 31, 2016) A littoral battlespace sensing-glider (LBS-G) is deployed from a Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) T-AGS 60-class vessel. After deployment, civilian pilots command and control Naval Oceanographic Office gliders 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Glider Operations Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
AT SEA (July 31, 2016) A littoral battlespace sensing-glider (LBS-G) is deployed from a Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) T-AGS 60-class vessel. After deployment, civilian pilots command and control Naval Oceanographic Office gliders 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Glider Operations Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Ocean gliders are autonomous underwater vehicles used to collect oceanographic data in an effort to better understand the ocean. The gliders are made by Teledyne Webb and are sold commercially. The Navy uses the gliders to collect ocean temperature, salinity and depth information, and transmit the unclassified data to Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) for assimilation into NAVOCEANO’s operational ocean models. They are used by scientists and professionals around the world working in academia, the oil and gas industry as well as the military. Gliders have been the workhorses of the operational Naval Oceanography program for nearly two decades.

In 2004, I was on one of the Navy’s survey vessels for the first deployment of a glider from a Navy ship. Afterwards, the U.S. Navy established the Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Gliders (LBS-G) as a program of record in 2010 and has been using these gliders operationally since 2012. Each glider is modular in design and buoyancy-driven, allowing it to collect oceanographic data on water pressure, temperature, salinity in the water column for up to four months without the need for active propulsion.

I fund and direct the operations of this glider fleet from NAVOCEANO at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. This fleet is the largest in the world, launched and recovered from six forward deployed military oceanographic survey vessels. NAVOCEANO’s scientists and Sailors conduct sea floor mapping from these ships to understand the undersea environment for military applications. Operations of the survey fleet is provided by the Military Sealift Command who own and operate the ships.

The gliders are piloted by personnel within NAVOCEANO’s Glider Operation Center (GOC) 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Stennis Space Center. In the event that the GOC loses contact with the instruments, they remain afloat in the ocean until located and recovered.

How do we use the data? NAVOCEANO uses the data collected for numerical modeling of ocean conditions. These models improve with glider data, which we share with regional partners to help their understanding of the environment.

Only 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. These underwater robots allow us to explore more of the ocean, and faster, at a fraction of the cost of a manned submersible or a ship.  

Why does the Navy use gliders? Only 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. These underwater robots allow us to explore more of the ocean, and faster, at a fraction of the cost of a manned submersible or a ship. The information gathered allows us to better predict ocean currents, density, sea states and tides which the U.S. Navy needs to safely and effectively operate all around the world. Once deployed, a glider can persistently sample the ocean for months freeing the ship to perform other functions.

I am extremely proud of our robust glider program. My goals for this program include expanding the current use of gliders, enabling the Fleet through the use of gliders and ocean models, and accelerating development and deployment of newer systems.

We have approximately 130 of these gliders and they are relatively inexpensive. The U.S. Navy will not only continue to use these technologies to improve our knowledge of the oceans, but we will be significantly increasing our use of gliders over the coming years so that our understanding of the ocean is the best in the world.


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U.S. Navy Ocean Gliders: Unmanned Underwater Vehicles That Are Improving Our Understanding of the World’s Oceans

Modernizing the Navy’s Mine Hunting Platforms

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Looking out on the future of the Navy’s mine warfare programs the expeditionary community faces the critical challenge of determining the best way to modernize aging mine hunting platforms. It’s an important topic that I discussed at the Mine Warfare Association’s Fall Industry Day in Arlington, VA on November 17, 2016.

NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN (Aug. 4, 2014) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the Laser Hawks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Detachment 2, equipped with the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) conducts flight operations. Operated from the MH-60S helicopter, ALMDS provides rapid wide-area reconnaissance and assessment of mine threats in littoral zones, confined straits, and choke points. The Laser Hawks began the operational testing and demonstration of ALMDS in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on the system’s maiden deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released)
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN (Aug. 4, 2014) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the Laser Hawks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Detachment 2, equipped with the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) conducts flight operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Furey/Released)

While working in one of the Navy’s most complex warfare areas, we’re attempting to achieve a number of objectives concurrently:

  • Our primary air and surface platforms must be replaced with multi-mission platforms-in particular, littoral combat ships and the MH-60.
  • Our primary hunting, sweep and neutralization systems must be replaced with new technologies that will do the time consuming, dangerous, and dirty work.
  • We must continue to increase our clearance and confidence levels across our portfolio of mine countermeasures programs.

As the Navy plans to start retiring the remaining MCM-1 Avenger-class ships beginning in 2019, it is essential that during the transition we maintain at least the equivalent operational capability and capacity we have with legacy systems. Moving forward, we will continue to build our MCM capability to meet ever more challenging threats. The success of un-manned systems like the MK18 Mod 2 will ensure our Explosive Ordnance Disposal Sailors continue to maintain expeditionary MCM capability into the future. Moreover, the benefit of these un-manned systems extends well beyond N95 and MCM to other warfighting platforms and domains. We’re making progress toward building the future force, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

MARINETTE, Wisconsin (July 14, 2016) The future USS Detroit (LCS 7) conducts acceptance trials. (U.S. Navy Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin-Michael Rote/Released)
MARINETTE, Wisconsin (July 14, 2016) The future USS Detroit (LCS 7) conducts acceptance trials. (U.S. Navy Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin-Michael Rote/Released)

In the short term, we continue to make progress as we declared Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and the Airborne Mine Neutrilcation System (AMNS) for the MH-60S on November 18, 2016. These first production units will be delivered to the fleet, and ready for operational employment.

In 2017, we’ll test this capability package aboard our littoral combat ships to give our Sailors the opportunity to work the package in operational environments. This will help us validate our concept of operations and tactical integration – providing system feedback that will allow us to refine software and techniques that will reduce the time needed to conduct post-mission analysis and system upkeep.

Additionally, we’ll continue to diligently test other mine countermeasures systems, including an unmanned influence sweep system, surf and beach zone detection improvements, low-frequency broadband search for buried and high-clutter mine hunting, near-surface neutralization, and advances across the unmanned systems spectrum.

ARABIAN GULF (Aug. 2, 2016) From left to right, Machinist Mate 1st Class Micah Patterson, Boatswains Mate 1st Class Stephen Wodraska, Engineman 2nd Class Richard Meyer, Mineman 1st Class Coy Tully and Mineman 3rd Class Pete Calvert, assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.1, launch a MK 18 MOD 2 unmanned underwater vehicle from a rigid-hull inflatable boat during Squadex 2016.
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ARABIAN GULF (Aug. 2, 2016) From left to right, Machinist Mate 1st Class Micah Patterson, Boatswains Mate 1st Class Stephen Wodraska, Engineman 2nd Class Richard Meyer, Mineman 1st Class Coy Tully and Mineman 3rd Class Pete Calvert, assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.1, launch a MK 18 MOD 2 unmanned underwater vehicle from a rigid-hull inflatable boat during Squadex 2016. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Blake Midnight/Released)

The flexibility of our mine countermeasures mission package systems is one of our definitive strengths. Our current footprint provides overlapping capability as it’s composed of both legacy and new technologies. Above all, our future Navy mine warfare program will look to ensure that our systems will be ready when we need them, that they will be scaled to meet the mission, and can be swiftly moved to where they are needed when called upon.


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By The Honorable Dennis V. McGinn Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations & Environment) …

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Modernizing the Navy’s Mine Hunting Platforms

Reservist Cares for, Honors Fallen Service Members

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Along with dressing remains, Mable Justice also molds features and applies makeup to remains that are unrecognizable when they come through the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Lee/Released)

Story by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Bates, Airman Magazine

Moving a small brush lightly, Mable Justice applies a coat of makeup to the face of a young soldier. She pauses, studying her work, and then touches up several spots on his cheeks and brow with a flick of her wrist.

The room she’s in is large, cold and sterile – all white walls, stainless steel and cluttered with various types of medical equipment. The only sounds are the constant hum of a machine circulating air through several vents in the ceiling and the occasional swoosh and ting as Mable applies cosmetics and swaps tools.

She smiles as she works, her hands expertly applying cosmetics and bringing the young man’s features to life.

She wants him to look perfect, like he did when he was still alive. Like he did before duty called him to the Middle East, and war and weapons sent him home in a transfer case.

As a mortician at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office, Justice has seen many of these transfer cases. Some contain soldiers, some airmen or Marines or sailors. Others contain only body parts.

No matter the state of the remains, Justice’s job is to take them, clean them, dress them and prepare them for delivery to their families. This preparation includes using cosmetics and other beauty products to enhance the appearance of these mens’ and womens’ remains.

It’s a job most wouldn’t want to do, let alone could. But Justice doesn’t look at it as a job. She looks at it as a calling.

“These service members gave their lives for our country,” she said. “So doing this, making them look nice and putting them in their uniforms one last time, I look at it as a way to honor them … to show them the respect they deserve.”

She may be at peace with her job now, but there was a time it was the last thing in the world she would ever think of doing.

There was a time, after finding out she was being sent to AFMAO, all she could do was say one, small prayer over and over.

“God, give me strength.”

Photo:  Mable Justice, the dress and restoration section chief for the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office, reviews body wrapping procedures with members of her staff before a training exercise. As a mortician, Justice believes she found her calling preparing fallen service members to be delivered to their families. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)


Mable Justice, the dress and restoration section chief for the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office, reviews body wrapping procedures with members of her staff before a training exercise. As a mortician, Justice believes she found her calling preparing fallen service members to be delivered to their families. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III/Released)

Answering the Call

Justice, who is also an Air Force Reservist, said this prayer over a decade ago. She was driving from her home in Maryland to Dover Air Force Base to report for an assignment at AFMAO and she was nervous, anxious and scared.

“Being in services (Air Force Services career field), I knew the possibility existed for me to get assigned here,” she said. “But then I actually got orders, and was told I would be handling remains and I just couldn’t imagine myself doing that.”

Justice called her sister while driving and asked her sister to pray for her. Then, she started praying herself.

“I prayed a lot during that drive,” she said.

When she finally arrived, it wasn’t long before she realized her prayers had been answered.

“God sent me an angel, and it was the person I worked with,” Justice said. “She was a staff sergeant and she basically walked me through the whole process and she was there to talk to me and guide me through what I needed to do.”

What she needed to do was not easy, either. Whenever a service member is killed, dies overseas or in a training accident in the U.S., the remains are sent to AFMAO. Once there, a team of medical examiners, embalmers and service members inspect and prep the remains for burial and deliver them to their family.

Justice’s job was to help dress the remains in the uniform the family chose for burial.

“It’s not something I wanted to do, not at all,” she said. “But the longer I was here, the more I realized how important and special this mission is and I was at peace.”

This peace soon turned into desire. Several years later, on her second tour at AFMAO, Justice watched one of the embalming morticians applying makeup to a fallen service member and she felt drawn.

“It was just like something happened inside of me and I knew that this was my calling,” she said. “I knew this is what I was created to do.”

Returning home, Justice applied to study mortuary affairs at the closest university, which was two and a half hours away.

“For two years I drove about five hours a day, just to go to school,” she said.

The miles paid off, though, and Justice earned her degree and was one step closer to answering her calling.

The next hurdle was finding somewhere to complete her apprenticeship. This also wasn’t easy and distance was once again her enemy.

Photo: Mable Justice teaches Senior Airmen Tameca Burnett and Myisha Rufus the proper procedures of a full-body wrap at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The ultimate goal of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office morticians is to make the remains of fallen service members viewable. If that can't take happen, they use a full wrap technique and place the remains in the uniform requested by the family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Lee/Released)

Mable Justice teaches Senior Airmen Tameca Burnett and Myisha Rufus the proper procedures of a full-body wrap at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The ultimate goal of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Office morticians is to make the remains of fallen service members viewable. If that can’t take happen, they use a full wrap technique and place the remains in the uniform requested by the family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Lee/Released)

“The closest funeral home I found that would take me was located several hours away in Virginia,” she said.

So, Justice once again logged a lot of miles and hours in her car as she worked at the funeral home and learned the ins and outs of mortuary affairs.

“The funeral home director told me he couldn’t pay very much, but I told him I would do it for free … I just wanted to learn everything I could about being a mortician,” she said.

He showed her everything he knew and she soaked it up, and before she knew it, Justice had fulfilled her internship and was considered a full-fledged mortician.

Taking her new title with her, Justice applied for a mortician position at AFMAO, was accepted and once again found herself in her car, headed to Dover. This time, though, she was saying a different prayer over and over.

“Thank you, Jesus.”

Blessings and Honor

It’s been almost five years since that day, but Justice still says the same prayer every day she leaves her house and heads to work.

“I feel blessed to do this job,” she said. “I feel like I’ve truly answered my calling.”

Justice doesn’t do this job for herself, though. She does it for the families, friends and loved ones of the service members she sees come through her building.

“I just think how I would want to be treated if I came through here someday, or if someone I knew or loved did,” she said. “So I just treat these fallen service members the same way I would a member of my family.”

This care doesn’t go unnoticed, either.

“I get letters from family members who say thank you a lot,” Justice said. “And that means a lot, because that’s why I do it – for the families.”

And as a last act of honor and respect for the fallen.

Justice looks over the soldier she’s been working on and nods approvingly. Two airmen take the gurney he’s lying on and wheel it out of the room and toward the next stage of his journey.

As the gurney leaves, Justice stares after it and says a quiet prayer. But this one is not for herself or for strength or for peace. This prayer is one of gratitude.

“Thank you and God Bless.”

———-

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Reservist Cares for, Honors Fallen Service Members