Thursday, 27 August 2009


27 August, 2009 -
Underway Replenishments, UNREPs, are the life blood of US Navy ships at sea. Fuel and stores sustain us and keep us going for a few thousand more miles. The supplies we received today will be enough to take us across the Atlantic Ocean.

The crew performed very well, executing two tasks at once. At one station, part of the UNREP detail took on the fuel, while amidships, another part of the detail, supplemented by members of supply, took on and accounted for the food to be served and the snacks to be sold at the ship’s store. Taking on provisions is an “all hands” evolution, involving all members of the crew not engaged in watchstanding or another part of the detail to strike everything down into storage.

The crew was happy to get the fresh fruits and vegetables, but the snacks were most welcomed, as evident by the line of people waiting outside the ship’s store to get at the new arrivals. I leave you today with some great pictures of STOUT in action.

Monday, 24 August 2009

PORTER Join-up

24 August, 2009 - While transiting the Mediterranean Sea, we were greeted by the sight of another US Navy ship just beginning her mission overseas. USS PORTER (DDG 78) came alongside for a few minutes today, just to say hello. I talked with their CO, a good friend of mine, on the VHF radio for a few minutes and many of the crew were topside. PORTER is also a Norfolk ship so there are many friends between the crews. A little while later we transferred a few parts between ships using a small boat and then we were on our way. Before parting ways PORTER's CO and I agreed to have a beer when we we were both back home. I believe he preferrs porter, but I am partial to stout. I think we can agree to disagree on that point.

The US Navy is tasked with maintaining a continuous vigilant watch at sea, to ensure the maritime security of various regions around the globe. It is a good feeling to see another US Vessel out here. It is nice to see the familiar faces of fellow Sailors committed to the same goals of serving our country and maintaining safety and security on the high seas. It reminds us that as we head for home at the end of our deployment our shipmates continue to stand the watch.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Crew Photo

22 August, 2009 - There are many memorable things about deployments. Adventures, hard times and achievements dot my memories of past deployments. Stories about past adventures seem to become more elaborate with the passing of time. The hard times remind us about service and the achievements are looked back on with admiration. Something every Sailor remembers are the shipments they served with. We continued a time honored ritual this morning to help us all remember our shipmates.

After pulling in to port for a quick fuel pit-stop, we took a few minutes to assemble the crew for a STOUT photo. Although the entire evolution of taking the picture took less than half an hour, the memories from it will last a lifetime. You can see the pride in the faces of the crew and their dedication shows through in the appearance of the ship. It was an awesome day to create a memory.

Friday, 21 August 2009

21 August, 2009 - Today we wrapped up Exercise RELIANT MERMAID and departed Aksaz, Turkey. We leave behind many new friends from Israel and Turkey. The exercise provided an excellent opportunity to practice Search and Rescue techniques and to operate with other nations. As with most exercises of this type participants come away with an improved understanding of their international maritime partners. The experience the crew gained from RELIANT MERMAID will be an asset in future maritime exercises and operations.

The picture of the day was taken from a Turkish helo during the exercise.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Reliant Mermaid

19 August, 2009 - Today we started the underway portion of Exercise Reliant Mermaid 2009. This annual trilateral exercise involves maritime forces from Israel, Turkey, and the United States. The goal is to improve maritime partnerships through increased interoperability and communication between Israel, Turkey and the United States.

The backdrop for the exercise is a simulated humanitarian search and rescue event. Sailors get underway and become familiar with the other navies' operating procedures and practices as they deal with situations that may arise in an actual search and rescue operation. When they meet in the future to conduct humanitarian search and rescue or other maritime contingency operations in this region, they will be better prepared to respond with speed and agility.

After leaving port early this morning, reveille was at 0400, we conducted basic ship maneuvering drills, set up a formation for a picture, conducted vertical replenishment exercises with helicopters from Israel and Turkey, practiced communicating over radio circuits, and conducted several search and rescue events. It was a very busy and productive day.

Below are pictures of the Turkish Frigate, TCG GEMLIK, and the Israeli Corvette, INS LAHAV.

Monday, 17 August 2009


17 August, 2009 - While inport Aksaz, Turkey, we have been busy preserving the ship. The great weather has afforded an opportunity to get at some of the harder to reach places. As I've mentioned on previous occassions preserving a ship is tough work but when everyone pitches in the task is easier. As you can see form the pictures on this post we had a great team effort today and the ship is looking great.

We also kicked off the planning portion of our international exercise with Office Calls, Planning Meetings, Lunch on a Turkish Ship (TCG GEMLIK), and a Reception this evening. Tomorrow the inport portion of the exercise continues with Damage Control Drills.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Aksaz Arrival

13 August, 2009 - Today we arrived at Aksaz Naval Base, Turkey. After topping off on fuel this morning we shifted to a different pier to open up the fueling pier for other ships. We will be here for a few days to participate in an international exercise, enjoy some liberty and work on maintaining and preserving the ship. Near Aksaz is the town of Marmaris, a tourist destination with a beautiful waterfront that is lined with restaurants and shops. August is the height of tourist season here and the town is busy. Even though most onboard do not speak the language it will be easy to blend into the crowds and enjoy the city.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


12 August 2009 - As many of you are at work or on vacation and preparing for the new school year we continue our patrol in the Mediterranean Sea. The past two days were filled with various training events touching nearly all of our capabilities. Events included everything from Engineering Casualty Control Drills to Passive Sonar Tracking Drills to Small Boat Operations to Pistol Qualifications.
I've included several pictures of the crew in action. As you can tell they are well trained, professional and focused. They are what makes STOUT a great ship.

Monday, 10 August 2009

VBSS Team Training

10 August, 2009 - Today the Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) Team conducted training. Our mission requires that we are able to conduct boarding operations of vessels in international waters. We do this to deter criminal activity, to stop the flow of illegal weapons and to stop human trafficking. Because we didn't have a ship to conduct exercises with today we sent the team out on our small boat and used STOUT as the ship to be boarded. Several members of STOUT role played as a merchant crew and interacted with the VBSS team. In this way the VBSS team members were able to practice boarding a ship, maneuvering through the ship, and conducting queries of the crew, specifically the master.

VBSS team members go through extensive training before becoming certified. Training includes everything from swimming tests to tactical exercises to weapons qualifications.
In addition to the training value provided to the VBSS team the exercise today also benefited boat deck personnel and the bridge watch team. As in most of the things we do on STOUT, it takes a team effort to be successful.

Saturday, 8 August 2009


8 August, 2009 - As part of our routine to keep STOUT looking great and operating as designed we spend time cleaning. Everyone enjoys a clean environment to work in and keeping the ship clean helps us prevent corrosion and identify equipment that requires maintenance.

Saturday mornings underway are dedicated to cleaning the internal spaces of the ship. All the work throughout the week can cause dirt to build up inside the ship. To account for this, in addition to the daily cleaning, we spend one morning a week deep cleaning.

Saturday afternoons are dedicated to external surfaces. Even in the calmest seas, salt builds up on the ship. Sea salt, humidity and steel in combination create rust. At sea STOUT receives a washdown with fresh water once a week. Kind of like washing a car, we use a fire hose to rinse down the ship and brooms to help the salt over the side. Besides being good for the ship, it also affords an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the day with shipmates.

Between cleaning periods today we practiced firing our five inch gun. Some things at sea become routine, but I never tire of firing the gun. It is fast, accurate and effective. As one of our main weapons we routinely practice with it because our mission is to be ready if ever called upon.

We finished the day with another Saturday tradition, Pizza Night. One of the crew's favorite meals.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Underway Replenishment

6 August, 2009 - This morning we conducted an Underway Replenishment (UNREP in Navy lingo) to top off on fuel. We always like to keep our fuel levels at the top end of the gage just in case we are called on to execute a mission that takes us away from our current operating area. Kind of like keeping more than half a tank of gas in your car during hurricane season, because you never know when you might need that extra fuel.

Transferring fuel while underway is similar to pulling up beside an eighteen wheeler hauling fuel on the interstate and having him pass you a fuel nozzle to fill up your tank, all while going freeway speed. Of course we have standard procedures for all of this in the Navy and we routinely practice the skills necessary to execute an at sea refueling.

We had great weather conditions again today and our time alongside went quickly. Just over an hour to take on 100K gallons or so. The crew performed magnificently as always and before I knew it we were back on station conducting our next training event.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

5 August, 2009

Today we conducted a torpedo exercise using a training torpedo. These types of events help us maintain proficiency at weapons firings and are a test for our Sailors and our equipment.

The training torpedo we use is inert and re-usable. One of the fun parts about these exercises is retrieving the torpedo once it goes into the water. This involves using our small boat and putting swimmers in the water to attach a retrieving line. Today’s weather was great and the Mediterranean water was warm. I had several volunteers to go into the water but in the end our two rescue swimmers got the nod and successfully recovered our torpedo for use the next time.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


1 August, 2009 - I send out congratulations to the Executive Officer. This morning he was promoted to the rank of Commander. The promotion to Commander is a great milestone for a Naval Officer. When an Officer is promoted from Lieutenant Commander to Commander, they join the ranks of senior Officers. Lieutenant Commander and junior ranks are considered junior Officers in the Navy.

After reciting the oath of office, XO continued a Navy tradition of passing down his old LCDR collar devices to deserving Officers who are yet to be promoted to LCDR.

I will leave you today with the Officer's Oath of Office as recited by CDR Stone.

I Chris Stone do solemnly reaffirm
that I will support and defend
the Constitution of the United States of America
against all enemies,
foreign and domestic
that I will continue to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution
and the Country whose course it directs,
and that I take this obligation freely,
without any mental reservation.
So help me God.

Great job Commander Stone!

Souda Bay, Crete

31 July - Early this morning, we said good bye to LT Patrick Murphy, STOUT’s former Assistant Supply Officer. Pat had a great impact on STOUT. Serving as the Assistant Supply Officer, he did an outstanding job leading Supply Department and ensuring our logistics needs were met. As the Ship’s photographer, he documented all the great moments of STOUT over the past two years. He served as the Public Affairs Officer, further documenting STOUT’s great triumphs, coordinating last deployment’s cruise book, and helping to get this Blog up and running. In addition to these accomplishments, he was a superb watch stander, always navigating STOUT safely across the seas. His presence and contributions will be missed by all.

We also had the opportunity this morning to recognize the outstanding efforts of a few of our Sailors. Prior to starting the events of the day an awards ceremony was held on the flight deck to acknowledge individuals that went above and beyond to support STOUT’s mission during this deployment. While all crewmembers have put forth an outstanding effort, and none of the Ship’s accomplishments were possible without the entire STOUT team, the effort of the twelve individuals we recognized today made them stand out amongst their peers, earning them the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Turkish Straits Southbound

27 July, 2009. - Today we transited the Turkish Straits from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The waterway between the two seas contains two narrow straits, the Bosporus to the north and the Dardanelles to the south, connected by the Sea of Marmara. The entire transit takes about twelve hours and requires the full attention of the bridge team. To the right you can see the Helm, Lee Helm and Helm Saftey Officer in action.

Below is a picture of Istanbul as seen from the bridge.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Reception - 23 July

Continuing the mission of strengthening maritime partnerships in the Black Sea we were able to host a reception onboard for several Romanian Naval Officers, local Officials and members of the Black Sea Council of the Navy League.
Helping me cut the cake this evening was the Romanian Deputy Chief of Naval Forces, VADM Nicolae Valsan. We spoke about our many things throughout the evening including the growing relationship between the US and Romanian Naval forces.

Tonight's reception was a great event made possible by the hard work of the crew. I included several pictures of those from behind the scenes that made the event so successful.