Monday, September 10, 2012

Touring the USS De Wert

Of the ships that were docked in Detroit for Navy Week, the De Wert was the one I was most interested in seeing.  Well, it was in a pretty close tie with the Niagara.  For as long as I can remember, I've been interested in the Navy.  A good chunk of my reading has been about Navy ships or Naval battles.  The wargames I prefer have ships in them.  I prefer "In Harm's Way" to "The Longest Day".  One of the unfortunate parts about living on the Great Lakes is that I don't get too many chances to see Naval vessels.  So I was pretty happy to find out that this was going to be happening.
 The De Wert's launch.   Before her tour of the Great Lakes, the De Wert has been involved in Anti-Piracy missions off the coast of Somalia.  A launch like this would be used to send a group of sailors to board and inspect ships and boats for pirates.
 A shot of the rear of the De Wert.  She is one of the smaller vessels in the Navy but still serves a very important role.
 The DeWert is an Olivery Hazard Perry Class Frigate.  She was built in 1982 and comissioned in 1983 at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.  She is currently homeported in Mayport, Florida.  She is named after Hospitalman Richard De Wert who served in the Korean War and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during that war.

The citation for his award was as follows:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HC, in action against enemy aggressor forces. When a fire team from the point platoon of his company was pinned down by a deadly barrage of hostile automatic weapons fired and suffered many casualties, HC Dewert rushed to the assistance of 1 of the more seriously wounded and, despite a painful leg wound sustained while dragging the stricken marine to safety, steadfastly refused medical treatment for himself and immediately dashed back through the fireswept area to carry a second wounded man out of the line of fire. Undaunted by the mounting hail of devastating enemy fire, he bravely moved forward a third time and received another serious wound in the shoulder after discovering that a wounded marine had already died. Still persistent in his refusal to submit to first aid, he resolutely answered the call of a fourth stricken comrade and, while rendering medical assistance, was himself mortally wounded by a burst of enemy fire. His courageous initiative, great personal valor, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds reflect the highest credit upon HC Dewert and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
 I kind of wish that the Tea Party hadn't co-opted this flag because I really like it.  I believe it was used as the Naval Jack during the Revolutionary War.  In 1976, it was flown by the oldest Active ship in the Fleet.  After 2002, it is being flown by every ship.
 She is 453 feet long and 45 feet wide.  She has a draft of 22 feet which is why she was docked at Nicholson instead of with the rest of the ships.
 Her ribbon plaque.  I have no idea what any of these mean for a ship.
 This is her air search radar.  It can detect a target from 3 nautical miles to 256 nautical miles.  It would have been used in conjunction with her SM-1MR Anti-Air Missiles but that system has been removed from this class of ships as of 2004.
 More of her radar array.
 Her helicopter hangars.  She is capable of carrying two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters but is currently only carrying one of those.
 The place where her Landing Signals Officer sits.  He is the person that guides the helicopters onto the deck.
 A picture of her Command Staff.
 Some of her sailors at work.  One of the amazing things about warships is how cramped they are.  We didnt' really get a feel for that but I can only imagine what it would feel like if she had her full crew on.
 Her commissioning plaque.
 The ammo that goes into her 76mm main gun.
 Another shot of her radar mast.
 These guys were everywhere.  Sadly it is a sign of the Post 9/11 world.
 This is the Ensign who conducted our tour.  He was pretty good and definately proud of his vessel.
 The 76mm gun.  This represents her main armament as she is mostly being used for anti-piracy patrols.
 Looking out at the Detroit skyline from her deck.  This is a view I don't normally get.
 And the Ambassador Bridge.
 The Close In Weapons System (CIWS).  It is a gatlin gun and used for last ditched defense against missiles.  They were servicing it, so we couldn't get too close.
 Another shot of her mast.
 One of two 50 calibre machine guns.
 Her SH-60 Seahawk Helicopter.  This was probably the best shot I could get of her.
 Another shot of her air search radar.
 The chaff dispensers.  These are used to dispense little bits of aluminum foil which can decoy an incoming missile.
 Another watchful eye.
 Looking up her radar mast.
 One of the binoculars on the bridge. 
 So I used the above binolculars to look at the ship on the horizon in this picture and it looked like it was almost right next to me.  So figure that is about 5 miles.
 A shot of her bridge.
 The steering wheel.
 Looking out of her bridge.  You can see the American Mariner making her way downbound.
 Another shot of her helm.
 Looking out at her bow.
 Looking up at her bridge.  Unfortunately, at this time I was shooting into the sun, so not a great picture.
 Another shot of her Naval Jack.
 One of her life rings.
 Her ship's bell.  It was amazing how loud this was.
 Looking down the side of the ship.
 Another shot of her helicopter.
 Another shot of her bow.
 I tried to get a full shot of her.  It is amazing how sleek she looks.
One last shot of her.

Even though I said it on my Hurricane post, I will say it again because it needs re-iterating.  I'm glad that the Navy decided to do this tour of the Great Lakes.  We in the middle of the country don't have too many opportunities to connect with our Navy.  Occasionally, we are visited by the Blue Angels but that is not the same as being visited by an actual ship.  I seriously hope that the Navy resumes their Great Lakes cruises more often.  If nothing else, it is good public relations for them.

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