USNS Medgar Evers

The U.S. Navy christened its newest supply ship, USNS Medgar Evers.  Named in honor of the African American civil rights leader from Mississippi, the USNS Medgar Evers is the 13th ship of a class of 14 dry cargo/ammunition ships designed and built by NASSCO.

More than 1,000 people attended the Saturday morning christening ceremony for the USNS Medgar Evers at NASSCO’s San Diego shipyard.  Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was the ceremony’s principal speaker.  Myrlie Evers, the widow of the late Medgar Evers, served as the ship’s sponsor.  She christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the hull of the 689-foot-long vessel.

As the first field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, Medgar Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) created and organized voter-registration efforts, peaceful demonstrations and economic boycotts to draw attention to the unjust practices of companies that practiced discrimination.  Evers became one of the most visible civil rights leaders in the state of Mississippi, working closely with church leaders and other civil rights advocates to promote understanding and equality.  His life’s work helped increase support for the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Each ship in the T-AKE Class is named for a noted pioneer in our nation’s history.  Mr. Evers was an Army veteran of World War II and an important civil rights pioneer.  The NASSCO team is proud to add Medgar Evers’ name to this distinguished list,” said Fred Harris, president of NASSCO.

USNS Medgar Evers is the 13th ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) Class of dry cargo ammunition ships General Dynamics NASSCO is building for the U.S. Navy. NASSCO began constructing USNS Medgar Evers in April 2010.  Following its at-sea testing phase, the ship will be delivered to the Navy in the second quarter of 2012.  USNS Medgar Evers will mark the 13th T-AKE ship that NASSCO has delivered to the Navy since 2006.

NASSCO has reduced the labor hours required to build the USNS Medgar Evers by 67 percent, compared to the first ship of the class.  This dramatic reduction in cost has been gleaned from NASSCO’s culture of continuous improvement over the course of this stable, long-term shipbuilding program.  NASSCO has accomplished this efficient serial production by conducting more than 1.5 million hours of trades training since 2006, equipping each tradesperson with the knowledge and tools required to build T-AKE ships to   unparalleled quality standards.

When in active service, USNS Medgar Evers will join a tradition of NASSCO-built or modified ships directly supporting the United States Marine Corps. The primary mission of USNS Medgar Evers will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions at one time to combat ships on the move at sea.  T-AKE ships have also served in Navy humanitarian efforts around the globe.



1st Female Officer On A Submarine

HARTFORD, Conn.  — For Ensign Peggy LeGrand, the biggest concern about serving on a submarine is not spending weeks at a time in tight quarters with an entirely male crew. What worries her is the scrutiny that comes with breaking one of the last gender barriers in the U.S. military.

“I have a feeling more people will be focused on us. Our mistakes and successes will be magnified more than they deserve,” said LeGrand, a 25-year-old Naval Academy graduate from Amarillo, Texas.

LeGrand is among a small group of female officers who are training at sites including Groton, Conn., to join the elite submarine force beginning later this year. While the Navy says it is not treating them any differently from their male counterparts, officials have been working to prepare the submarine crews — and the sailors’ wives — for one of the most dramatic changes in the 111-year history of the Navy’s “silent service.”

The initial class of 24 women will be divided among four submarines, where they will be outnumbered by men by a ratio of roughly 1 to 25. The enlisted ranks, which make up about 90 percent of a sub’s 160-sailor crew, are not open to women although the Navy is exploring modifications to create separate bunks for men and women.

The female officers, many of them engineering graduates from Annapolis, are accustomed to being in the minority, and so far they say they hardly feel like outsiders. The nuclear power school that is part of their training, for example, has been open to women for years because the Navy in 1994 reversed a ban on females serving on its surface ships, including nuclear-powered vessels.

At the U.S. Navy’s submarine school in Groton, where eight women were among dozens who recently completed the 10-week officer basic course, Ensign Kristin Lyles said the presence of the first class of females bound for submarine duty was not even remarked upon at this month’s graduation ceremony.

“I understand the reason why. It was never explained but it was kind of implied that while we’re going through training, as soon as they started calling attention to it in that way, it’s singling us out,” said Lyles, 23, of Fairfax Station, Va. “In my experience, I am no different from the guy sitting next to me in all my classes.”

A submarine group spokesman, Lt. Brian Wierzbicki, said the Navy would not facilitate photographs or interviews with the female submariners because it does not want to distract them from training or make them feel different from their male peers.

The female officers will report to their submarines starting in late November or early December. All of the vessels are guided-missile attack submarines or ballistic-missile submarines, which are relatively large by submarine standards. They are the USS Wyoming and USS Georgia, based in Kings Bay, Ga., and the USS Maine and USS Ohio, with their home port in Bangor, Wash.

On submarines with corridors barely wide enough for sailors to brush past one another, the six female officers on board will all share a stateroom. Their shifts will be divided so that women are assigned to each sub’s two rotating crews. The lone bathroom for officers will have a reversible sign, letting men know that it’s in use by women and vice versa.

LeGrand said she is not concerned about being outnumbered.

“Space is at a premium and everyone has no space. You just get over it and do your job,” she said in a phone interview.

She said she is thrilled at the opportunity to join the close-knit submarine community, but she does not dwell on being a barrier-breaker.

“Every now and then I think about it and yeah, it’s pretty cool, but ultimately I’m just happy I get chance to serve on a sub,” she said.

The change is a source of anxiety for others, including the wives of submariners, who worry the close contact at sea could lead to sailors’ cheating.

“The issue really has to do with the creation of a relationship that becomes very close and then results in further relations ashore. That is, of course, what bothers the wives. They know the kind of relationships that happen between the shipmates,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. W.J. Holland Jr., a former submarine commander.

Although Holland said commanders would be reluctant to have women on their subs, he said the Navy pulled off a more daunting challenge last year by outlawing smoking on submarines. The crews can adapt, he said.

The Navy reversed the ban on women in submarines in April 2010. In the fall, when officials announced the first subs selected to take on female officers, senior leaders held town hall meetings with the crews and their families to address their concerns. Wierzbicki, the Navy spokesman, said training has been provided to the crews and commanding officers to prepare them for the change.

Submarines had been the last class of military vessel off-limits to women. Navy officials say one lesson they learned from integrating surface ships is to make the transition gradually. The Navy wants to make sure it is aware of any potential issues that might arise, according to Lt. Cmdr. Jean Sullivan, chief of the naval personnel’s office of women’s policy.

“There are going to be leadership challenges and maturity challenges anyone would face in their first job. There is just a spotlight on it because they’re the first on submarines,” Sullivan said.

The chairwoman of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, retired Army Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, told a committee meeting last month that one risk is that men could feel constrained and resent the presence of women.

“One of the issues around women being integrated is this thought that, ‘Oh, now because you’re here, we can’t do XYZ,'” Kennedy said. “And that creates a greater sense of isolation and exclusion for women.”

The Navy is looking into bringing women aboard the smaller, Virginia-class attack subs, which would require reconfigurations to accommodate men and women together.

LeGrand said the diverse missions of the attack subs would be appealing, but the larger submarines are just fine with her.

As a semi-professional cyclist, she’s hoping to serve on a sub large enough to bring aboard a stationary bike.

Source:  yahoo

Black History: Allen Allensworth

Born into slavery in Kentucky in1842, Allen Allensworth gained his freedom in the Civil War when the Forty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry was camped in Louisville, Kentucky. Young Allensworth dressed in an old uniform, plastered mud over his face and marched boldly up Main street with the Union soldiers. After escaping he served as a civilian nursing aide with the Forty-fourth Illinois. He later served a two year enlistment in the U.S. Navy and was Captain’s steward and clerk on the civil war gunboat U.S.S. Tawah when it was destroyed in an engagement with Confederate batteries at Johnsonville, Tennessee.

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Allensworth operated two restaurants with his brother William, taught in Freedman’s Bureau schools in Kentucky, was ordained as a minister, and served as Kentucky’s only black delegate to the Republican National conventions of 1880 and 1884. After a two-year campaign in which he solicited the support of Congressmen John R. Lynch of Mississippi and Senator Joseph E. Brown of Georgia, President Grover Cleveland signed his appointment as Chaplain of the 24th Infantry Regiment.  While serving at Fort Bayard, New Mexico Territory, Allensworth wrote Outline of Course of Study, and the Rules Governing Post Schools of Ft. Bayard, N.M. which became the standard army manual on the education of enlisted personnel.

On April 7, 1906, after twenty years of service, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel making him the first black officer to receive this rank. In 1908 retired Chaplain Allensworth and four other black men formed the all-black town of Allensworth, California. Six years later, in 1914, Allensworth was crossing a Los Angeles street when he was killed by a motorcycle.