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Posts Tagged ‘Navy’

Meeting with Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations – US Navy

In Print Media on August 6, 2010 at 11:34 am

Admiral Gary Roughead & Dennis Hall, Founder - Avere Group

The staff of Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations – US Navy (CNO), is aware that I have a strong network of friends and contacts in Silicon Valley.  On July 23, 2010, the staff contacted me asking on short notice if I could attract high-level executives to a meeting with Admiral Gary Roughead in San Francisco, CA on August 5, 2010.

Pictures from the meeting appear here, and I posted my album on Facebook as well. My Facebook page may be found using Search, Avere Group.

E-mail, social media connections, and old-fashioned telephoning came to bear in bringing this eclectic group together successfully within five working days.  Participating in the meeting with the CNO, staff, and me on August 5, 2010 at the Marines Memorial Hotel in San Francisco, CA were the following:

Bill Reichert, Managing Director – Garage Technology Ventures (garage.com);

Charlene Li, Founder – Altimeter Group (Altimeter.com);

Tina Swallow, Maritime Defense Initiatives Manager, Cisco Systems (cisco.com);

Don Proctor, Senior Vice President – Office of the Chairman & CEO, Cisco Systems (cisco.com);

Lyle Fong, President of Lithium Technologies (lithium.com);

Ben Renda, Adwords Manager, Google;

Dr. Bud Tribble, Vice President of Technology, Apple, Inc. (apple.com); and,

Dennis Hall, Founder, Avere Group (averegroup.wordpress.com)

The purpose of our meeting was to discuss three key matters:

How to attract people to serve in the Navy who have high aptitude for technology;

How to structure the Navy with such people, e.g. active duty, reserves, and contractors; and,

How to implement usage of new technology for the Navy in the future.

Admiral Gary Roughead & Tina Swallow - Cisco Systems

Charlene Li signs her bestseller Open Leadership

Bloggers-Media Embark to Aircraft Carriers

In Print Media on April 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm

USS Nimitz (CVN 68)

By Dennis Hall, Founder

The social media postings of the bloggers and podcasters from this Bloggers-Media Embark during April 25-26 continue to come along.  There has been much posting to Facebook of photo albums and postings of blog posts.   If you’re not already one of my Facebook friends, you can find me via Avere Group, Dennis Hall.

Also, now that this embark is complete, I’m networking bloggers and podcasters to others who embarked separately, e.g. with Guy Kawasaki and me.  I believe the Navy at-sea experiences shared between people whether together or separately are great ice-breakers to build new, productive relationships.  For example, I am networking Amanda Congdon with Andrew Nystrom, Digital Media Manager of Red Bull USA, who embarked with me to the USS Nimitz.

Steve Fiebing, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for the Commander – Naval Air Forces – Pacific, supported a Bloggers-Media Embark for April 25-26, 2010.  Andy Sernovitz and I nominated participants.  My three nominees selected were Will Mayall, co-founder with Guy Kawasaki, of Alltop.com; Amanda Congdon, Executive Producer of the SomeTimesDaily blog and podcast; and, Robert Coombs, Director of Public Affairs and blogger for the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CalCASA.org).

Robert Coombs posted this amazing interior video of himself enduring the whole process of when he was strapped into the Navy C-2 Greyhound on April 26, 2010 for his catapult launch from the bow of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

The total complement of 15 bloggers-podcasters-journalists connected prior to meeting each other and created an on-line community via Twitter and Facebook.  Each posted details of their enthusiastic planning for the embark, and then each step along the way leading to their boarding the C-2 Greyhound Navy transport to take them out to sea for a tailhook landing or ‘trap’ on the flightdeck of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).  The Navy leans forward on social media, so it was particularly exciting for me as co-founder of the Bloggers-Media Embarks to hear from the participants while they were underway via Facebook.  Such direct connectivity was not available as recent as July 2009 when Guy Kawasaki and I lead our first group of bloggers-podcasters-journalists out to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.  For us, this is a significant sign of a new era for Navy and Marine Corps personnel at sea to keep connected with those on shore, and on other vessels at sea, as well.

My June 2009 post titled, “Bloggers’ Embark Start-up” details the first Bloggers-Media Embark lead by Guy Kawasaki and me to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier.  My post contains links to many of the other participants posts pertaining to our USS Nimitz embark.  The participants were Guy Kawasaki, Bill Reichert, Carroll Lefon a.k.a. Lex, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li, Beth Blecherman, Jennifer Leo, Jennifer Jones, Jennifer Van Grove, Pamela Slim, Jefferson Wagner a.k.a. Zuma Jay, Andrew Nystrom, and Andy Sernovitz.

The embark involved the group of 15  flying from Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado Island near San Diego, California aboard a Navy transport to a Navy nuclear-powered aircraft career underway in the Pacific Ocean.

The 15 participants boarded a Navy C-2 Greyhound COD equipped with a tailhook and take off from a normal runway to fly out to sea to the aircraft carrier steaming underway about 100 miles off shore.  The aircraft carrier moves at about 22 to 30 nautical miles per hour through the waves of the Pacific Ocean as the C-2 Greyhound approaches its stern for landing … skill and timing for the flightcrew are everything.

C-2 Greyhound COD with tailhook

The crew lined up for landing once given the ‘go-ahead’ to do so.  The flightcrew landed or ‘trapped’ the C-2 onto the ship’s stern of the flightdeck with the tailhook snared the third arresting cable stung perpendicular to the plane’s flightpath.

They offloaded, and spent the next 24 hours touring, dining, and sleeping aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

On April 26, they boarded the C-2.  The ‘Shooters’ hooked the catapult to the C-2.  Then the pilot powered up and then the catapult propelled them down a short stretch of flightdeck until aerodynamic lift kicked  in and they flew aloft away from the carrier’s bow.

Participants' First Impression

All participants paid their own expenses to travel roundtrip to and from the vicinity of NAS North Island near San Diego, CA, and pay the Navy approximately $50 for meals and berthing while aboard ship.  Each participant  lodged in or near San Diego on the night of April 24, as show time at NAS North Island was 8 a.m. on April 25.

For more information, contact me: ContactDennisHall@gmail.com; Facebook: Avere Group; or, Twitter: @AvereGroup.

Submarine Bloggers-Media Embark – Fall 2010

In Print Media on April 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

By Dennis Hall, Founder

Over the past couple of years, my networking with the US Navy has found me getting my feet wet into the undersea

US Navy Submarine

world of submarine operations.  It’s most intriguing! Lieutenant Commander Denise Garcia, Public Affairs Officer of Submarine Squadron 11, informed that the Bloggers-Media Embark aboard a Los Angeles-class submarine scheduled for June 22, 2010 is now postponed until the fall of 2010. She is allowing me to nominate ten bloggers or podcasters for eight seats with two in reserve should there be two who have to cancel for whatever reasons.

Having sent out inquiries, the following bloggers and podcasters replied expressing interest and providing me their vitaes:  Christopher Carfi, me … Dennis Hall, Gina Hughes, Jennifer Jones, Cali Lewis, Sarah Austin, and Robert Scoble.

This immersion is the result of my networking with Navy Lieutenant Jan Bowers, Public Affairs Officer of Naval Surface Force – Pacific.  SURFPAC, as its known, is based at Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado, also the home of the US Navy SEALs.  She and I coordinated the Bloggers-Media Embark involving bloggers flying aboard a Navy SH-60 Seahawk from NAS North Island near San Diego roundtrip to and from the USS Green Bay underway in the Pacific.  Lieuteant Jan Bowers referred me to her counterpart, Navy Lieutenant Commander Denise Garcia, the Public Affairs Officer of Submarine Squadron 11 based at Point Loma Submarine Base, San Diego, California.

During January, Lieutenant Commander Garcia forecast that our embark aboard a submarine out of Point Loma could occur either in May or June, but now it’s postponed to the fall.  I asked embark alumni for further referrals and introductions to more bloggers, podcasters, and journalists.  Charlene Li, Jennifer Van Grove, Andrew Nystrom, Jennifer Jones, and JD Lasica responded plentifully with a mix of Facebook friends, Twitter personalities, and popular blog and podcast personalities.   Over the past week, I have contacted several dozen of them with feedback of enthusiasm about these opportunities that are a chance of a lifetime.  Some expressed essentially that being in the Navy realm would render them as a fish out of water, but willing to make a go of it.

One immediate benefit was that I was able to nominate Amanda Congdon, podcaster, for an embark to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier.  The Navy’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the Commander – Naval Air Forces – Pacific, accepted my nomination and invited her. She embarked out and back to the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier during Sunday and Monday of April 25 and 26.   She’s been posting about it for days now!

Jennifer Van Grove

Jennifer Van Grove, editor with Mashable, during early 2010 embarked underway aboard the USS Hampton submarine.  She immediately posted video and photos to her Facebook page inspiring me to promptly request support from Lieutenant Commander Denise Garcia for a Blogger-Media Embark.  She agreed … forecasting May or June.  Meanwhile I commented on Jennifer’s post as did also one of her Facebook friends who had served in the Navy.

Dennis Hall

Jennifer … Your video is amazing! Within eight months now you’ve embarked on the USS Nimitz, the USS Green Bay, and now the sub USS Hampton … You’ve experienced aircraft carrier, amphibious assault troop transport, and now submarine life. Amazing! Congratulations!

This was followed by one of her Facebook friends who served in the Navy:

Boarding USS Hampton

Egbert Oostburg

Jenny, Dennis is right! I spent 10 years in the Navy and did not get to experience all those platforms! How did you find

the accomodations?

Jennifer Van Grove

tight! I don’t think I could live on a sub and have just a few inches of personal space… I do however commend the sub’s captain for his interest in keeping crew morale high in spite of space limitations. That definitely came across as a priority.

All participants will pay their own expenses to travel roundtrip to and from the vicinity of NAS North Island near San Diego, CA.  Each participant will lodge in or near San Diego on the night of June 21, as show time at Point Loma Submarine Base is 7:30 a.m. on June 22.

I may be contact at ContactDennisHall@gmail.com.  I’m on Facebook: Avere Group, and Twitter: @AvereGroup.

As more information surfaces, I will update this post.  Anchors Aweigh!

Avere Group Blogger Nominees Embark to USS Green Bay

In Print Media on August 17, 2009 at 8:50 pm

lpd-green-bay

The Bloggers’ Embarks to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier during May and early June christened a new journey of research and development on using social media to reach audiences of all kinds and ages.   I had nominated Guy Kawasaki for a Distinguished Visitor Program embark to an aircraft carrier.  Commander Charlie Brown, Public Affairs Officer for the Commander-Naval Air Forces-Pacific, selected Guy to participate, so I coordinated with Commander Brown and Guy to get him squared away to embark … paperwork, you know.  Guy embarked to the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier during late September 2008 with a group of 16 distinguished visitors from various professional disciplines.

Guy Kawasaki, Dennis Hall, Bill Reichert

Upon return to shore, Guy wrote the longest blog in history.  I try to meet up with people whom I’ve nominated and get selected, so I visited Guy at his offices of Garage Technology Ventures in Palo Alto, CA.  It was a reunion of sorts, as I’ve been acquainted with Guy since June of 2001 through the Asia Silicon Valley Connection (ASVC.org).  Bill Reichert, also a Managing Director, was there, too, that day, and we go back a few years, so we had a bit of a reunion roundtable.  Guy discussed with me his idea of a bloggers’ embark to an aircraft carrier.  He said, ‘what if the Navy loaded 16 bloggers into a Navy C-2 Greyhound transport and embarked them to sea.’  My gut reaction was that the Navy would love his idea.  So, I wrote the proposal, submitted it to Commander Charlie Brown, and as forecast … he immediately supported Guy Kawasaki’s vision.  He arranged for such an endeavor to-from an aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).  Guy and I orchestrated the nomination process with the Navy during the latter part of 2008.  We embarked out with a total 16 bloggers, podcasters, experts, and authors during spring 2009.  I have that blog and links to the others here at my Avere Group blog.

Having achieved embarkations to-from an aircraft carriers with scores of blog and podcasts reaching hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide, it was time to explore other areas of the Navy.

7217_129254757818_504712818_2562761_4385544_nTo advance further understanding, Lieutenant junior grade Jan Shultis, a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) for the Commander, Naval Surface Forces – Pacific, coordinated with me to create a Bloggers’ Embark by Navy helicopter for September 10, 2009 to the very recently commissioned USS Green Bay underway in the Pacific Ocean.  Embarking via SH-60 Seahawk helicopter to and from the vessel were bloggers Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Jennifer Leo, Jennifer Van Grove, Gina Hughes , Adam BrownJake McKee, and  Ponzi Pirillo, a most eclectic band of bloggers-podcasters.

Jennifer Van Grove and Jen Leo are Bloggers’ Embark veterans, as both embarked as part of a Bloggers’ Embark to the USS Nimitz aJen Leo & Jenn Van Groveircraft carrier via fixed-wing aircraft, the Navy C-2 Greyhound, during May 20-30, 2009.  We arrived to the USS Nimitz abruptly via the tailhook of the C-2 snagging the arresting cable of the flightdeck.  The following day we departed via catapult launch aboard the C-2 off the bow.

Working closely with Navy Lieutenant Jan Shultis, I contacted bloggers-podcasters who embarked with me during MayLt.j.g. Jan Shultis 29-30, 2009 to the USS Nimitz to see if they would like to participate in Leaders to Sea, the program implemented by the Commander-Naval Surface Forces.   While all wanted to do so, schedules were too packed except for Jennifer Van Grove and Jennifer Leo.  Assisting me in finding high-profile bloggers-podcasters were  Guy Kawasaki, Andy Sernovitz, Jennifer Jones, Beth Blecherman, and Robert Scoble in making referrals to other bloggers-podcasters.  Their referrals lead to instant success! For example, Beth Blecherman referred me to Gina Hughes. She accepted the opportunity for me to nominate her, and she in turn recommended several bloggers, e.g. Ponzi Purillo and Jake McKee.

10530_130197782681_714437681_2422706_3478839_nThe embark began early in the morning at 7:00 a.m. PST (o700 hours).  All arrived to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, the Headquarters for the Commander-Naval Surface Forces-Pacific, and incidentally, the home, too, of our Navy SEALs (Sea Air Land warriors).   Video of Boarding the UH-60 Seahawk shot by Jennifer Van Grove. The sky was filled with dark cumulous clouds, but winds were light.  Following take-off, the cameras came out. Here is video shot by Jennifer Van Grove. Writes Gina Hughes in her Facebook posting, “We took a helicopter ride to the USS Green Bay in San Diego. What an experience!” (turn down volume)

Per Navy Lieutenant Jan Shultis, and the bloggers, the Bloggers’ Embark was an immense success.  You may immediately see posts for on Facebook for Gina Hughes (TechieDiva.com) and Jennifer Van Grove, and Ponzi Pirillo.

Lt. Jan Shultis, USN

Lieutenant (j.g.) Jan Shultis, Public Affairs Officer, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Pacific

Group Shot XL

Bloggers-Podcasters

It’s not just a blog; it’s an adventure.

USS Green Bay cap

USS Green Bay cap for Every Blogger

SH-60 Group Shot L

Boarding the Navy SH-60 Seahawk Helicopter

Jennifer Van Grove with leadership

USS Green Bay Leadership with Jennifer Van Grove (www.Mashable.com)

Adam Brown strapped, SH-60

Adam Brown (www.Coca-ColaConversations.com)

Gina Hughes with Command Master Chief

Gina Hughes (www.TechieDiva.com, GadgetSpin.com) with Command Master Chief Cecilio Macias

Deb

Deborah Keyek-Franssen (Colorado.edu)

Jen Leo & Chaplain

Chaplain & Jen Leo (www.JenLeoLive.com, latimes.com)

Jake McKee listening

Jake McKee (www.antseyeview.com, www.communityguy.com) listens to briefing

Ponzi Pirillo in Goggles-Helmet

Ponzi Pirillo (www.GadgetSpin.com)

Jennifer Van Grove shotgun & pistol - great

Jennifer Van Grove (www.Mashable.com, http://www.JenniferVanGrove.com)

XO Briefs Bloggers

Greeting by Commander Randy Zamora, Executive Officer

Jen Leo, Ponzi Pirillo, Jennifer Van Grove aiming

Onboard Virtual Shooting Range Simulator

Gina Hughes - High calibre

Gina Hughes with High Caliber Weapon

Navigation

Navigation Monitor

LCAC Approaching fast

Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Hovercraft Approaching for Boarding

LCAC Bay

Landing Craft Air Cushion Hovercraft Holding Pen

Ladies' berth 2

Womens’ Berthing Area

Adam Brown - in berth

Adam Brown in Men’s Berth

Jennifer Van Grove in LCAC

Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) Tour

USS Green Bay bow 2

Bow view of USS Green Bay (Note Green Bay logos)

Aerial view of flightdeck

Aerial View of USS Green Bay flightdeck

NAS North Island - aerial

Aerial View of Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, CA

Ponzi Pirillo & Gina Hughes

Upon return to shore, Gina Hughes wrote me via Facebook, “Best experience ever! Just got off a Seahawk , being briefed by Admiral Curtis talking about their mission and robotics.”

Jen Leo wrote, “Dennis – it was a lovely day out! Very different from the Nimitz experience. I really felt the emphasis of the Navy as a family and how they try to be connected to and provide for the entire family – not just the sailor was communicated and appreciated. Obviously this was a much smaller ship. I think we were only the 3rd DV group to go be flown out there. It was sparkling clean, we were toured by the XO and the Master Chief the entire day. And Jan [Lt. Jan Shultis, USN] was amazing.  Extremely well spoken, passionate and knew her stuff. She was truly excited about us. Thank you for this. It was a nice group too.”

Ponzi Pirillo recounted her day, “Hi Dennis, I had a wonderful time! Jan and EVERYONE was so caring and attentive.The whole group on the USS Greenbay were amazing! It was an experience I feel really fortunate to be able to say I’ve had and I’m looking forward to writing about it. :)  Jan [Lt. Jan Shultis, USN] was simply amazing as was everyone literally from the top Admiral to the youngest seaman, I’m totally impressed with how things were handled.  Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to be able to join in The Leaders to Sea program.  I feel honored be able to help shed some light on the amazing efforts of our Navy.”

USS Green Bay

Commander Joseph R. Olson, Commanding Officer

Commander Randy Zamora, Executive Officer

CMDCM (SW) Cecilio I. Macias, Command Master Chief

The USS Green Bay (LPD 20)

Amphibious Transport Dock – LPD

Amphibious transport dock ships are warships that embark, transport, and land elements of a landing force for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions.

The ships are used to transport, and land Marines, their equipment and supplies by embarked air cushion or conventional landing craft or amphibious vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft in amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions.

LPD 20 USS Green Bay is the fourth of the San Antonio Class of amphibious transport dock ships.

Namesake – The city of approximately 100,000 residents was founded in 1634 by French explorer, Jean Nicolet.  The oldest community in Wisconsin , Green Bay is well known for its commitment to team efforts, and particularly for its support of its football teams. As Packers’ Coach Vince Lombardi put it, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

When the former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig announced the name of LPD 20, he noted, “Green Bay may be modest in size, but it is enormous in spirit. The city is well known for its commitment to team efforts and the LPD 20 will be home to another team – the Navy-Marine Corps team- that is no stranger to the hard work and sacrifice necessary to be the best in the world.” This will be the second ship named Green Bay. The first, a patrol gunboat, was in service during the 1970s.

The USS Green Bay transports and lands Marines, their equipment and supplies,by embarked air-cushion (Landing Craft Air-Cushion Vehicle – LCAC) or conventional landing craft or Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft. USS Green Bay will support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the first half of the 21st Century.

Ship Characteristics:

Length 684 feet (208.5 meters)

Beam 105 feet (31.9 meters)

Displacement Approximately 24,900 tons full load

Speed In excess of 22 knots (24.2 mph)

Aircraft Four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft may be launched or recovered simultaneously. The ship’s hangar can store 1-2 aircraft.

Armament Two 30 mm Close-in-Guns, for surface threat defense; two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers for air defense

Landing Craft Two LCACs (air cushion) or one LCU (conventional)

EFVs 14 Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles

Power plant Four Colt-Pielstick diesel engines, two shafts, 40,000 Hp

Crew 360 (28 officers, 332 enlisted), three Marines

Troops 699 (66 officers, 633 enlisted); surge to 800 total.

Embarking to USS FranklinFor more information on Bloggers’ Embarks contactDennisHall@gmail.com, AvereGroup.WordPress.com

The word “Contact” is part of my e-mail address.  Anchors Aweigh!  Dennis

Bloggers’ Embark Start-Up

In Print Media on June 6, 2009 at 11:54 am

Bloggers’ Embark Start-Up

It’s not just a blog; it’s an adventure.

Admiral John Miller & Bloggers

Accompanying Guy Kawasaki and me for this adventure … a balance of ladies and gentlemen … Beth Blecherman, Bill Reichert, Charlene Li, Robert Scoble, Jennifer Lawson a.k.a. the bloggess, Andrew Nystrom, Pamela Slim, Andy Sernovitz, Jennifer Leo, Jefferson Wagner a.k.a. Zuma Jay, Jennifer Van Grove, Jennifer Jones, and Carroll LeFon a.k.a. LexChris Pirillo followed us out during June 1-2, 2009, again to the USS Chester W. Nimitz (CVN-68).

Collectively, as a population of Americans, our US Navy ships are floating, underway homes … extensions of our homeland … for our loved ones both Navy and Marines.  You do not need to have a child, a parent, a grandparent, relative, or friend directly serving aboard a Navy ship or a land-based installation to come to compassionately either love or really, really like our Navy community serving to protect all of us.  A few hours aboard ship underway is more than enough time to draw the conclusion that Navy people are good people … real salt of the earth folks.

If there is a special person in your life who is serving, please know that our Navy is providing well for them, and they are in friendly, supportive company.

Sailors on flightdeck of USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

Sailors on flightdeck of USS Nimitz (CVN-68)

The past two decades have seen incredible technological, cultural, and occupational progress in our seven US military services.  For example, women and men now serve side by side aboard Navy ships underway, including as pilots and other members of flightcrews.  Among the current frontiers, in my opinion, is social media.  The Navy commonly now uses Twitter tweets, and blog postings for individual ship’s and leaders are underway and soon will be mainstream.  Yet, awareness of this progress could be advanced via blogging and podcasting illumination.  Step in Guy Kawasaki – prolific blogger, American, author, and venture capitalist.

Guy Kawasaki & EA6B 5-30-09

Guy Kawasaki with EA-6B Prowler

For the past year, I have learned about blogging in a focused fashion via my wife’s blog PassionateForLife.com/magazine.  She taught me much, but it was the genesis of this Bloggers’ Embark that kicked me into gear to launch my own blogging career.  I plan to expand into podcasting as well, plus other mediums, e.g. YouTube, etc.  As Steve Forbes says in his Forbes magazine postings, ‘With all thy getting, get understanding’.  Blogging certainly does allow one to gain new perspectives in unique way.

As part of my Avere Group volunteerism for community outreach, I nominate to all seven military services business and government leaders, civic leaders, artists, and authors to hopefully be selected for invitation to come out and see the military training first-hand.  Over the years, I have developed a strong relationship particularly with the Navy, including the Navy Blue Angels.

Being acquainted with Guy Kawasaki and Bill Reichert through their being Managing Directors of Garage Technology Ventures and hosting as such their start-up strategies workshops in Silicon Valley, and Launch – Silicon Valley, I nominated both for Navy opportunities to go to sea.  During September 2008, Guy found the bandwidth allowing him to partake in his flying by Navy C-2 Greyhound transport aircraft over the Pacific Ocean to and from the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-72) aircraft carrier.  He returned to shore even more totally gung-ho about our Navy.  From his start-up Alltop, he e-mailed me ‘an idea.’

Guy ventured to dream of how might the world be changed if a whole C-2 Greyhound full of bloggers and/or podcasters experienced first-hand life at sea aboard a Navy aircraft carrier steaming underway conducting naval air operations.  Guy knows his own enthusiastic, supportive reaction having embarked prior during 2008 to the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) aircraft carrier.  Yet, what dynamics would launch and fly from each of the fertile, creative, psychedelic minds of an eclectic group of bloggers and podcasters welded with the synergy of a bonding adventure.  What if … what if … they departed their comfort zones along with all they know up to that point about themselves and other aspects and put themselves out there to experience one of the most quintessentially extraordinary environments available to only a relative handful of the seven billion people on earth.  What would happen to these bloggers?  How would they react?  What would be their transformations?  How would their readers react to their blogging and podcasting?

This realm of life at sea includes transportation to and from the carrier via C-2 Greyhound Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD), military occupational specialties (MOS), leadership, living quarters, mess decks and ward rooms, food prepared and served, internet connectivity, religious worship, medical clinics, postmortem memorials, and of course, the pilots’ ready rooms and flightdeck operations.

Guy and I met together during October 2008 along with Bill Reichert to discuss the idea further and compile a list of bloggers and podcasters.  I then wrote and submitted the Bloggers’ Embark proposal to Lieutenant Commander Charlie Brown, Public Affairs Officer, Commander – Naval Air Forces – Pacific (COMNAVAIRPAC) based at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado Island near San Diego, California.

Charlie Brown called me personally and enthusiastically approving the idea.  Guy set about to coordinate with me the Bloggers’ Embark with the plan being that Guy himself would be at the helm, and I originally was to be a shore battery of publicity about the embark.  As luck would have it, I actually got to participate, and hence launched my fledgling blogging career.

Lt. Commander Charlie Brown and Navy Petty Officer Steve Harbour established our embarkation for May 29-30, 2009 to the USS Chester W. Nimitz (CVN-68) aircraft carrier.  Socially, therefore, he’s in a community of bloggers and podcasters representing diverse portfolios of genres … entrepreneurship … tech … parenting … romance … fashion … travel … communications.  It did not take long for Guy to line up women bloggers and podcasters, and only a bit longer to find some courageous men.  I had the pleasure of introducing myself via e-mail to each one and assisting them with getting their paperwork into the Navy, plus answering questions, and coordinating with the Navy bakery to create a birthday cake aboard the Nimitz, as three of the ladies in our group would celebrate their birthdays during the embark.

First up for the unforgettable, highly coveted, Distinguished Visitor adventure was a greeting inside the immaculate Navy headquarters of the Commander, Naval Air Forces – Pacific housed within a beautifully restored building that was once an operating lighthouse.  Marine Corps Colonel Jim Jamison greeted the group, and then arrived Lt. Commander Charlie Brown.  He absorbed unwavering attention while he projected slides punctuating key bullets of information.  He spoke and referenced the slides on Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet, humanitarian relief, Carrier Strike Group Eleven, their mission, assets, current operations, and readiness, and Navy social media.  He introduced specifically the group’s destination: the USS Chester W. Nimitz (CVN-68) nuclear aircraft carrier.

All distinguished visitors donned helmets with encapsulating hearing protection and reality-checking flotation-water survival vests.  Outside of base operations on the tarmac, the plump, friendly C-2 Greyhound twin-turboprop transport taxied up to inhale its passengers and their luggage.  The C-2 Greyhound CODs (Carrier Onboard Delivery), with their cadre of flightcrews get plenty of flighttime supporting roundtrip ship-to-shore transits of mail, parts, food, personnel, and distinguished visitors.  Their flightsuits bear, among other patches, one for the US Postal Service, and a patch with the same logo design as the Greyhound bus line.  Navy personnel escorted us out of base operations out into the cavernous passenger hold.  They snugly strapped us into firm-fitting seats packed ‘like sardines’ facing the open tail ramp of their ‘COD’ for one last glimpse of tarmac terra firma.  Up came the ramp-hatch, and so the embark was deemed a “Go!”

Andrew, Beth, Guy, Charlene, CO, Jenny, Jen, Jenn & Bill

Andrew, Beth, Guy, Charlene, CO, Jenny, Jen, Jenn & Bill

Dennis, Robert, Pam, CO, Jennifer, Andy, Jefferson a.ka. Zuma

Dennis, Robert, Pam, CO, Jennifer, Andy, Jefferson a.ka. Zuma

About a half hour after their noisy, vibrating take-off, while each in the group dozed, meditated, or prayed, the flight crew gently banked the C-2 Greyhound to line up with the football gridiron-size landing’s portion of the flight deck of the USS Nimitz with foaming wake wash offering welcome.  At about the same time, there was the barely audible sound accompanying the continuous, yet hardly noticeable descent.  The pilot had activated the arresting tailhook lowering it into the slipstream, and lowered the wings’ flaps to provide more slow-speed lift and controllability for the COD as the seconds ticked down to arrival.  Down and locked, the tailhook hung braced for its violent collision with the innocent arresting cable slung as a thick strand baking under the tropical sun, perpendicular across the stern’s flight deck.  Then … virtually without announcement for time to brace … ‘Clunk!!!’  Simultaneously the pilot cycled the engines’ throttles up to full thrusting power for life preserving lift should the pilot have missed the arresting cable and needed to bolt again for the sky.  Then rapid braking as the tailhook grabbed the thick-cross-deck cable and brought the aircraft to an abrupt, but controlled stop as the cable unwound from its spindles just below deck.  I felt like my whole body inflated four-fold! Like a pufferfish.

Navy C-2A Greyhound over Aircraft Carrier

Navy C-2A Greyhound over Aircraft Carrier

The ‘trap’ overwhelmed everyone’s psyche by a dosage of adrenaline, yet euphoria, but no time to ruminate on what just happened.  The rear ramp hatch lowered to flood in visual overload of an environ of the aircraft carrier unbeknownst to the passengers except maybe through watching the movie “Top Gun” or the television shows “NCIS” or “JAG”.  Over the course of the next 24 hours, life was far different for all from that which they left back at their offices,  communities, and homes.

Following an introduction to great Navy chow in a buffet mess deck.  With everyone squared away, the order of the day was to spend about four hours of continual tours throughout the ship involving climbing and descending stairwells and ladders and walking, walking, walking.  The only elevators to be found were huge, as in as big as a contemporary house, and meant for carrying major loads of freight or aircraft, for example an entire EA-6B Prowler aircraft from the maintenance shop up to the flight deck for parking or launch.  All the way in route to the next stop, the distinguished visitors saw Navy personnel in the passageways or adjoining rooms and offices.  The personnel were very polite and exuded kindness and warmth.  What resonates with me is the true passion exuded by ALL of the members of the crew.  It was very evident to me that the men and women truly love what they do, and give their all towards their individual and collective missions.  It was truly an honor for me to experience a taste of their everyday reality.

The ship normally operates as the centerpiece of a Carrier Strike Group consisting of four to six other ships.  Aircraft attached include the following: the F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, E-2C Hawkeye, and MH-60S Seahawk.  The Air Wing can destroy enemy aircraft, ships, submarines, and land targets, or lay mines hundreds of miles from the ship.  The aircraft can conduct strikes, support land battles, protect the Strike Group or other friendly shipping, and implement a sea or air blockade.  The Air Wing provides a visible presence to demonstrate American power and resolve in a crisis.

We all saw the key centers on the ship during normal shore business hours, but also during night operations when passageways, rooms, etceteras are illuminated with surreal red, blue and yellow lights.  Focus of the tours included the following: chapels; bridge and its Air Boss station; flight deck; Vultures’ Row view of the flightdeck operations; fantail or stern; the ship’s propulsion center with its two nuclear reactors and propeller drive shafts; combat center; hangar bay; ordnance depot; catapult operations; medical center; dental clinic; food galleys; bakery; dining mess decks; shopping mall; post office; internet-access center; ward room; surface-to-air missile systems; the Phalanx close-in 20 mm gun for cruise missile defense; anchor room; flight briefing rooms; the sleeping quarters; recreational centers; gyms; and library.  The ship draws every source of electrical energy from the nuclear reactors used primarily for clean propulsion power lasting decades without refueling.  An added bonus for this embark was inclusion of a tour of the ship’s detention center, or brig.

The Navy escorts provided protective vests, helmets, and ear protection to the distinguished visitors to allow them to get up close to the stern’s landing zone of the flight deck as F-18 Hornet jets and turboprop C-2 Greyhound, and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft quickly come down the glide path and ‘trap’ the arresting cable right in front of them, literally only a dozen yards from where they are standing.  Everyone glanced skyward and saw  two-ship formations of F-18 Super Hornets making low passes over the aircraft carrier and then pitching out to prepare for their landings, or a solo EA-6B, for example, coming over to prepare for its landing.

Following dinner, everyone including the Navy escorts visited Vultures’ Row, an open-air passageway near the bridge that overlooks the flight deck.  A night operation unfolded with aircraft landing and sparks flying as the tailhooks scrape the deck and frictionally heat the cables during the ‘trap’.  Then after some calm, the bow area came alive with jets moving into position to attach to the catapults for bow launches up into the night sky.  The jets and turboprop aircraft move through paces of preflight check with strobe lights pulsing while flight crews cycle the control surfaces.  F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets might have launched first, followed then by an EA-6B Prowler for electronic countermeasures jamming support, and then an E-2 twin-turbo prop Airborne Warning and Control aircraft to fly high over the Carrier Air Group to provide a radar umbrella of proactive operating area surveillance.

The second morning involved packing for the trip home, breakfast and a few more tours and briefings.  A popular stop is the bridge, and each distinguished visitor took a turn sitting in the Commanding Officer’s chair embroidered Old Salt.  They watched the crew steer the ship and navigate its way toward the global position where they all would later that day be catapulted off the bow aboard the C-2 COD.

Following lunch, it was time to don the helmets and vests again before boarding the awaiting C-2 to take them home.  Upon boarding and strapping in, the C-2 rolled on the flightdeck to one of the four catapults for the “cat shot”.  The catapult uses a steam-powered piston device with attachment points for the C-2 that fires down a track and releases the aircraft at the end.  With the aid of relative wind blowing down this runway as the ship cruises at around 22 knots, the COD achieves aerodynamic flight sustained by the C-2’s twin turboprop engines.  The distinguished visitors watched C-2s get catapulted during their visits to the flight deck, the bridge, and Vulture’s Row, so by the time it was their turn for a “cat shot” they instinctively knew the sequence and timing of the endeavor.  The pilot advanced throttles to full power, and then suddenly a major jolt and everyone was shoved into their restraint harnesses and then a loud “snap!” is heard as the C-2 is set free to fly under her own power.  Everyone catches their breath and exclaims excitedly ‘Ohhh yeahhhh!’ once the g-loading releases and you’re climbing away!

Upon return to NAS North Island, Lieutenant Commander Charlie Brown greeted us, and then presented us our Nimitz Tailhooker certificate.  It reads as such …

NIMITZ TAILHOOKER

Know all ye by these presents that

Dennis Hall

a fearless and intrepid birdman has exhibited faultless courage, exceptional bravery, NAFOD (No Apparent Fear of Death) and intestinal fortitude in examining the entire spectrum of air approach parameters while successfully completing an arrested landing aboard USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) with less than mortal injury.  For this feat they shall be recognized as a

“NIMITZ TAILHOOKER”

and accorded the honor and all consideration and privileges due such title.

M.C. Manazir

Captain, US Navy

Commanding Officer

29 May 2009

As we had arrived back to shore during the middle of the afternoon of Saturday, May 30, many of us had to get a move on to the San Diego airport.  This was one of those moments we experience rarely in life.  We had all come together less than 45 hours earlier, had welded our bonds through an incredible, extraordinary endeavor, but now had to sever to return to distant points on the globe.  For me, it was emotionally wrenching.  I sat in my rental car and waved to each batch of departing carloads.  Ultimately I was just sitting there alone for a few moments, and the silence and solitary presence were suddenly awkward.  What a phenomenal group of people including everyone we met via and in the Navy.

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