Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Training in Romania

While moored in Constanta, Romania, STOUT Sailors conducted Medical, Damage Control and Visit, Board, Search, & Seizure (VBSS) training with Romanian Naval forces. The training teams covered a wide variety of topics, such as pipe-patching, firefighting, compliant ship entry procedures, and personnel searching methods. While this helps strengthen ties with Black Sea allies and promote their professional knowledge, it also serves to strengthen our crew's abilities, and teach them about the methods of our allies.

Additionally, we provided tours to many Romanian Navy Officers, NCOs, and Midshipmen. Our guests were able to see the foc'scle, pilothouse, engineering control, and several other areas. These types of tours provide the opportunity to gain a more detailed understanding of our mission areas and abilities. Several STOUT Junior Officers enjoyed the opportunity to show off the ship.


STOUT continues to strengthen maritime ties with nations in the Black Sea, this time in Romania. After a short underway to transit across the Black Sea, we pulled into Constanta, Romania. Constanta has much to offer and I am sure everyone will enjoy exploring the city. The architecture is beautiful and the weather is perfect.

While inport Constanta we will conduct Medical, Security Force and Damage Control training with the Romanian Navy. We will also participate in another community relations project, which is sure to be a rewarding experience for the crew.

Shortly after pulling in, I had the opportunity to meet with RADM Aurel Popa, Flotilla Commander, Romanian Navy to discuss the friendly relations between our Naval Forces. During our visit, we discussed the challenges today’s Navies face. The challenges we confront in the U.S. Navy are very similar to those faced by Romania. We also discussed the rewards of training together with Romanians and U.S. Forces side by side. In all international training event I have been involved in every participant comes away with an increased understanding of those they trained with. I am sure this will be true for the the training we conduct in Constanta.

In the evening I had a nice meal by the Black Sea beach in the company of a few shipmates. A great way to wrap up a busy day

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

20 July

As STOUT continues to sail in the Black Sea we push ourselves each day to fine-tune our abilities, so that when the need arises, we can safely and competently succeed. Today's training events focused on emergency response and included a scenario based on a helicopter crash on the flight deck. Our flight deck crew must train regularly for this emergency, just in case. We simulate that a helicopter has crash landed on our deck and fire is started. The flight deck crew must respond quickly to extinguish the fire and rescue any personnel involved. During today's event STOUT's crew performs well. Hoseteams fight the fire, and two rescuers in silver-colored hot suits carry the wounded from the scene. It happens quickly, and the flight deck crew makes it seem easy.

With regular drills, our crew has proven that they are made of the best stuff, and can combat any situation they might encounter. While we always hope for the best, we have to plan and train for the worst.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Goodbye Georgia

We weighed anchor this morning and left Poti, Georgia behind. Once underway we observed Sunday routine, which means very few scheduled events. Sundays are good for catching up on e-mails, relaxing a bit, taking in a movie on one of our two TV channels, or whatever. Of course we still have a full set of watches stationed 24 hours a day, so no one has the entire day off.

I spent my day planning for the week ahead and talking with a few crew members. Monday morning will be here before we know it and we'll be going full speed ahead again.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Poti, Georgia

Today as STOUT remained at anchor off the port of Poti, Georgia. We continued Damage Control and Security Training with the Georgian Coast Guard. The training afforded yet another opportunity to interact with the Georgians.

At anchor our routine day is a cross between underway and in-port. We benefit from time to concentrate on shipboard work, but we remain in duty section status like we would in port.

In the evening we held a steel beach picnic on the flight deck. For those of you unfamiliar with the term "steel beach" here is a little back ground. Because we have no sand onboard the ship we use the steel of the flight deck as our beach and do our best to replicate a beach setting. Tonight, the ship’s barbeque grill was rolled out of storage and the speakers were set up to play music on the flight deck. Crew members enjoyed hamburgers, sausages and chicken, along with some time to relax in the setting sun and chat with their shipmates. Thanks goes out to the Second Class Petty Officers and S-2 Division for setting up, cooking, cleaning, and making this Steel Beach Picnic possible.

Friday, 17 July 2009


Today STOUT left Batumi, Georgia and conducted training with two Georgian Coast Guard Patrol Craft. We had some exchange officers who spent the day with us as we transited north to Poti, Georgia. In the spirit of cooperation two Officers from STOUT also spent the day on the Georgian Patrol Craft conducting training with us. It was a good day of training and I believe will benefit both nations. At the conclusion of training we anchored off Poti.

Even though today was a busy day that included getting underway, operating with two foreign Coast Guard Vessels, hosting several foreign Officers onboard, small boat operations and anchoring, the most memorable thing of the day was a very routine event, morning colors.

At 0800 every morning all around the world, Navy ships inport or at anchor raise the colors. It is usually a short but solem ceremony where the flag bearers raise the flag as the Command Duty Officer and one or two others looking on stand at attention and salute.

This morning's colors was special. We have a Sailor who has been away from us for over a year serving in Afghanistan. She returns home to Norfolk today and will be on leave for a few weeks. Because we are deployed and are unable to meet her at the airport, her Senior Chief asked that volunteers come out to colors this morning and observe. He had a photographer standing by to take pictures so we could send them to her and welcome her home.

Even though it was voluntary, we had a tremendous turn out. It was a wonderful show of support from the crew and a beautiful way to end our port visit to Batumi.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Batumi Reception

Today was a very exciting day for STOUT. We had the honor of hosting a reception for several Georgian dignitaries and Military Officers. Most notable of the dignitaries was the Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili. In a speech at the reception he expressed Georgia’s gratitude to the United States and explained that Georgia held a deep affinity for Americans.

The U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, John Tefft, addressed the crowd later in the evening and praised the crew for hosting an excellent reception and proudly showing the flag. Ambassador Tefft was a wonderful guest and talked with nearly every one from during the course of the evening.

The reception was expertly planned and executed by STOUT’s Supply department with support form everyone onboard. The Culinary Specialists worked overtime preparing gourmet foods and a cake that was nothing short of a masterpiece. The reception’s success was a direct result of their hard work.

One particular highlight was a performance by the youth dance troupe that participated in STOUT’s welcoming reception. The young dancers treated the crew to another spectacular show that included a riveting drum performance featuring remarkable acrobatic moves with the drums. Following the performance, the dancers were able to join the crowd for a piece of cake, a treat that was well-deserved.

As STOUT departs Batumi, we look forward to future port visits in the Black Sea that continue to promote maritime partnerships in the region.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

15 July - Batumi

Today we continued our port visit to Batumi, Georgia. Last night as part of STOUT’s welcome to Georgia approximately fifty sailors were invited to dine on local cuisine and were able to experience a true Goergian meal including traditional toasts. Meanwhile, other crew members chose to take in Georgian culture by visiting the city on their own.

Today several of our crew members visited a local orphanage as part of a Community Relations (COMREL) project. In many of the ports we visit, crew members volunteer their time to COMREL projects as a way of positively interacting with the local community and helping those in need of a little assistance. Each COMREL event presents its own unique rewarding experiences for those who participate. The participants of this event worked steadily to paint the walls and ceiling of the entryway while others painted the floor of a larger adjacent room. After the work was completed the crew served hamburgers to the children and joined them in an outdoor lunch. Several Sailors interacted closely with the children by playing music for them and touring the orphanage.

Onboard STOUT, crew members had the opportunity to conduct training with members of the Georgian Coast Guard. Members of STOUT’s At-Sea-Fire Party and VBSS team conducted training and practiced techniques with the local service members.

The local media have been very interested in our visit and were onboard today to observe our trainig with the Georgian Coast Guard. I expect to see some stories in the local papers about our visit.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Batumi Arrival

A rainy start early this morning as we arrived in Batumi, Georgia.

We were welcomed by local government authorities and members of the Georgian military. Following introductions, the national anthems of each country were played while military members from Georgia and STOUT saluted the Colors. The highlight of this small reception was a performance by a local youth dance troupe. The young dancers performed both gracefully and powerfully. They demonstrated traditional Georgian dances with the precision that comes only with extreme dedication and long hours of practice. It was truly a unique experience. Also awaiting STOUT’s arrival were several local media crews eager to photograph the ship and her crew.

While in Georgia, crew members will have the good fortune to experience tours, take in local cuisine, and attend a performance by the Georgian National Ballet

Monday, 13 July 2009

Black Sea Transit

Today, the crew enjoyed a routine day underway transiting the Black Sea. Our main focus was preparing for our upcoming port visit to Batumi, Georgia.

While in Batumi we will conduct combined training with the Georgian Coast Guard, assist in a Community relations project, host a reception onboard for local dignitaries and enjoy liberty in town.

Working with other Navies is something we do quite often. It is a great way to increase understanding between Sailors of different countries and in the long run leads to more effective operations.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Final Day for Breeze

The final day of Exercise BREEZE provided a multitude of fast-paced exercises. As the sun rose over the horizon, all involved ships pulled into a tight formation with STOUT and commenced the day's events.

Among the various training goals was an important Damage Control exercise. A fire on a ship at sea is unlike a fire at land. The crew has nowhere to go. Any outside assistance is usually far away, so the crew must fight any casualties - such as fire or flooding - on their own, relying on their knowledge, training, and equipment. All U.S. Navy vessels are capable of fighting their own casualties, but for the purpose of this exercise, STOUT simulated fires and flooding and requested help from exercise participants with an exercise may-day call.

Three ships responded to our distress call, and provided assistance teams by way of small craft. Once onboard, the teams organized their gear and prepared to control the fires and flooding. Foregoing any fears over language barriers and different training methods, the Damage Control Training Team of STOUT and the Bulgarian Assistance teams worked well together.

Upon finishing the comprehensive and robust underway schedule of BREEZE 2009, STOUT and all the involved ships returned to Varna, and were treated to a wonderful concert by the Bulgarian Navy Band. Those without duty also enjoyed an evening in Varna.

At a later outbrief, the CNO of the Bulgarian Navy expressed his appreciation for the solid efforts of STOUT and her crew, and wished us well as we continue to sail in the Black Sea.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Breeze Day 2

Exercise Breeze continued today as we participated in several events. Most exercise are scenario driven, and Breeze is no exception. It is based on a Crisis Response Operation in a fictitious island in which US and Bulgarian forces, in addition to other nations, are involved. Having this type of backdrop to all the events we are conducting helps to keep things in perspective.

One exciting event we conducted yesterday evening was a towing approach. Towing is not something we do very often for real, but it is a skill that all Navies practice, just in case a situation arises that calls for towing a disabled vessel. We first practiced approaching the Bulgarian Frigate and then they approached us. As you can see from the pictures this involves some close quarters maneuvering.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Exercise BREEZE

An early start this morning for the crew as we got underway just after first light. You can see the view I had from the bridgewing as we were leaving the harbor. As you can tell the weather was great. It is easy to see why so many tourists visit this Black Sea port in the summer time.

Above are the three Bulgarian ships we operated with today. The picture is from a stationing exercise used to develop basic skills. Maneuvering several warships in a synchronized manner at close distances requires critical thinking and solid communications between ships. The comprehensive training agenda provides all participant maritime forces with numerous opportunities to demonstrate the ability to work together and develop productive relationships through diverse and challenging operational scenarios.

STOUT Sailors performed very well on the other events of the day, which included a 15-round firing of our 5” gun at a floating target. Though shooting at a very small target, our Sailors maintained their high standards of accuracy, and demonstrated the results of countless hours of dedicated training and drills.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Varna, Bulgaria

On July 8th, 2009, USS STOUT (DDG 55) pulled into Varna, Bulgaria, its first stop in the Black Sea. To the left you can see our bow as we approached the city during sea datail.

After arriving pierside the crew enjoyed some liberty in town. Curfew was early because we get underway first thing in the morning. We will participate in a multinational naval exercise (Exercise BREEZE) hosted by the Bulgarians for the next three days.

I am looking forward to participating in the exercise. Most of my day was spent in pre-sail conferences and briefings. I enjoy working with other navies because I always come away with new friends and a better understanding of our maritime partners.

Turkish Straits

Today was a great day for USS STOUT (DDG 55) as we completed our transit of the Bosporus and Dardanelles, which connect the Aegean Sea with the Black Sea. Commonly referred to as the “Turkish Straits,” these important waterways provide a critical link from the Mediterranean to the northern areas of Europe and Asia.

I have posted a picture of Istanbul as seen from the ship for you to enjoy.

While in the Black Sea we will visit four ports and operate with the Navies of several Black Sea Nations. Our purpose is to strengthen maritime partnerships and safety in the Black Sea region.

Although U.S. ships have regularly deployed in the Black Sea region for many years this is my first opportunity to come to the Black Sea. I am excited about the opportunity to work with regional Navies and experience the culture of the area.

In my daily conversations with crewmembers I can tell you that the crew of STOUT also look forward to the adventure and challenges that await them during their time in the Black Sea.

Refer to this page for daily updates on the activities of USS STOUT.


As Commanding Officer of USS STOUT (DDG 55), I am exceptionally proud of the Sailors that serve aboard this ship who have achieved so much and put forth their best every day. Their dedication to our Nation, our Navy, and our ship is exceptional, and is deserving to be recognized here. I have authorized this blog as a way for family and friends to connect daily with the activities of USS STOUT. It will contain news of USS STOUT, but it will not contain any personal information on our Sailors, nor will it contain any opinions other than my own. This blog meets all requirements of SECNAVINST 5720.47B for information on public websites and will not divulge sensitive information related to operational security.