The Scoop Deck

VIDEO: Bush sailors build bombs for Iraq airstrikes

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The aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush is getting ready to wrap up its Persian Gulf deployment, but before they head home, they’re lending a hand to American operations against the Islamic State in Iraq.

In this official Navy video, ordnancemen pack explosives to assemble bombs for the strikes. In the clip below, you’ll see what happens after they’re loaded onto F/A-18 Hornets and dropped onto targets. The video shows an airstrike in northern Iraq on Friday.

The Bush carrier strike group and Carrier Air Wing 8 left Norfolk back in February and are scheduled to make their way home soon. It’s currently unknown whether operations in Iraq will extend their deployment, or if they’ll be relieved by the carrier Carl Vinson as planned.

The “ultimate” Naval Academy patrol boat could be yours

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(Photo via Craigslist)

Always wanted your own Navy ship? It may not sport guns, but this former training vessel could be your next floating home. (Photo via Craigslist)

If you’re in the market for a one-of-a-kind 100-foot yacht at a bargain basement price, has Craigslist got a deal for you!

This 1985 Naval Academy trawler that took generations of midshipmen on summer cruises, according to the seller’s description, sports one of the “best” hulls built in history, made from double-planked Alaskan cedar.

In its former life, the yard patrol boat now billed as the “ultimate trawler yacht” was a training vessel for mids that went on umpteen cruises up and down the East coast, giving mids their first taste of at sea life and liberty ports.

The academy is now bringing in a new class of YPs, but it’s unclear how this one got into the present owner’s hands; Navy Times reached out to the owner for its more recent history, but they did not immediately respond to requests.

YP 678, once typically helmed by a senior enlisted craftmaster, has five state rooms, three showers, a 15-seat mess deck, massive stainless steel galley, air conditioning and a large main salon. With 1,900 square feet, it’s more spacious than most apartments. But be forewarned: the buyer will need to sink some money into it.

“No leaks in hull,” the ad states. “Boat needs work.”

All this for only $30,000 bucks. Any takers?

How the Coast Guard spent its 224th birthday

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The Coast Guard turned the big 2-2-4 on Monday, celebrating with some guest appearances and other festivities all around the country.

Pop quiz: Did you know that the Coast Guard is actually older than the Navy?

The CG came together in 1790 as the Revenue Cutter Service, a customs enforcement agency. That same year, the United States disbanded the Continental navy, the Revolutionary War fleet, and didn’t officially form the U.S. Navy until 1798. (Although the U.S. Navy cites theirs to the founding of the Continental navy in 1775.)

In 1915 the RCS  merged with the United States Lifesaving Service to create the U.S. Coast Guard as we all know it.

Today, the service’s missions include everything from drug and migrant interdiction to port security, buoy tending, vessel and fisheries inspections and even deployments to war zones, as they did during the Iraq invasion in 2003.

Here’s a look at how the Coast Guard spent its big day this year.

In Baltimore, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Virginia Beach, Virginia (with a little help from Sammy the Sea Otter), Coasties took to the marinas to hand out balloons and birthday gifts to local boaters. Birthday gifts included life jackets and other safety gear.

Capt. Jeffrey Dixon, Coast Guard Sector New York commanding officer,  and his shipmates rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York City.

Capt. Jeffrey Dixon, center, and members of CG Sector New York open the NASDAQ on August 4 in New York City (Coast Guard photo).

And commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft spent the day on patrol at Station Washington near headquarters in Washington, D.C. Check out his Coast Guard Day message, from the service’s All Hands Blog.

Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft on patrol Aug. 4 in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. (Coast Guard photo)


Sailor’s bid for pullup record ends in hospital

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AC2 McCastle performs pullups July 26 at Fort Nugent Park in Oak Harbor, Washington. He came within 900 reps of the world record. (Photo courtesy AC2 McCastle)

AC2 Mike McCastle performs pullups July 26 at Fort Nugent Park in Oak Harbor, Washington. He came within 900 reps of the world record. (Photo courtesy AC2 McCastle)

A Washington-based sailor who made a run in late July at the Guinness world record for pullups held by a Navy SEAL ended up in the hospital, but says he plans to make another attempt once he recovers.

Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Mike McCastle made it to 3,202 pullups on July 26, just 828 shy of the record, before health concerns forced him to head to the emergency room.

He lasted 19 1/2 of the allotted 24 hours, but still raised almost $10,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. As of July 31, he said, he had collected $9,600, with donations continuing to trickle in.

“The main goal was always to bring awareness, and to beat my fundraising goal for the Wounded Warrior Project,” McCastle said. “Obviously, I wish I would have reached the event goal, but I’m happy and very humbled by the support everyone’s given to me during the experience.”

McCastle, a distance runner and a command fitness leader assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, trained for two months in preparation for the challenge. In order to take Guinness honors, he’d have to complete 4,031 pullups in 24 hours, beating the record set last year by Chief Special Operator (SEAL) David Goggins.

McCastle planned to do 4 1/2 pullups per minute for the first six hours of the event, then reevaluate once he hit the 1,500 to 2,000 range. He set up a pullup bar under a picnic shelter at Fort Nugent Park in nearby Oak Harbor with a permit from the city, inviting locals to come out and watch him in action.

Unfortunately, the day of the challenge, the video camera had some technical difficulties about an hour and a half in. Guinness requires that the event be filmed from start to finish, including breaks, so he had to come to a complete stop and wait for someone to run out and get a new memory card for the camera.

Losing momentum is a serious problem in an endurance challenge, McCastle said.

“It threw off my game plan,” he said. “After that, instead of doing four to five reps per minute, I was doing six to eight reps, trying to make up for lost time.”

He made it to about 2,100 pullups by 1:30 pm (he had started at 6 am), but he was already showing physical signs of the toll it was taking on his body.

“I started noticing the capillaries in my forearms were burst,” he said. “It felt like muscles tearing, like being branded by a hot iron.”

He took a break to reevaluate, including a trip to the restroom in which he noticed blood in his urine. He pushed on though, completing 1,000 more pullups before his next break. After a 40-minute rest, he realized he couldn’t close his hands around the bar anymore. After a few more reps, he had to call it quits, at 1:30 am.

He went to the emergency room to get his arm muscles checked out, but when he got there, doctors diagnosed him with rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdo occurs when muscles begin to break down from overexertion, releasing fibers into the bloodstream. Once they hit the kidneys, they can cause severe damage and even organ failure.

McCastle spent four days in the hospital recovering. He returned to light/limited duty at Whidbey Island on August 1, he said. Despite the medical scare, though, he said he has every intention of trying again, but not as a public fundraiser next time.

“I always want to finish what I started,” he said. “Just because I didn’t get it the first time doesn’t mean I’m going to give up.”

Pranksters target MCPON with fake DUI story

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A fake story circulating on Facebook said the MCPON had been charged with a DUI. The fakery, shown here as a screen grab, appeared in many sailors’ news feeds.

Internet trolls this week pranked the Navy’s top enlisted sailor, who took to his Facebook page to dispel social media rumors he’d been charged with drunk driving —  at over two times the legal alcohol limit.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens debunked the rumors Thursday, saying he had not been arrested for driving under the influence.


I heard that there’s a prank going around on social media that involves me! No DUIs for me! I’m finishing my motorcycle safety course today and getting ready to visit our hard working Sailors in Boston!

Have a great evening.


As it turns out, the rumor got started on, a site that lets users create fake news story links and then count the number of people who fall for them. So far this week they’ve started rumors that the Dodgers traded three of their best players and that Netflix cancelled season 3 of “Orange is the New Black,” among others.

Drunk driving arrests have tarnished the careers of many officers and senior enlisted. Among the most recent: a CMC canned in June after not reporting a DUI arrest.

If MCPON’s fake news didn’t end up in your feed, here‘s what you would have seen when you clicked the link. Meanwhile, the prankster is still at large.


A gallery of fake news from that includes MCPON and other fake newsmakers.

Navy Athletics to Aztecs: ‘I believe…’ should be a chant for all

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American soccer fans adopted “I believe that we will win” as a rallying cry for Team USA during July’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but as it turns out, the slogan dates back to 1998 at the Naval Academy, thanks to then-Midshipman 4th Class Jay Rodriguez.

According to ESPN, the chant debuted at the 1999 Army-Navy football game, lead by Rodriguez’s friend and academy cheerleader, Corey Strong. It’s been adopted by numerous teams since then, but if one university has its way, no one else will be using the slogan in the future.

San Diego State is vying for a trademark on “I believe…”, but that doesn’t sit well with the academy, a Naval Academy Athletic Association spokesman told Navy Times.

“The Naval Academy Athletic Association has launched legal opposition to San Diego State’s trademark claim, and not in a self-serving way,” Scott Strasemeier said. “We believe it is a universal chant, and it should stay that way.”

San Diego State filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office back in 2011 for the exclusive rights to use “I believe that we will win” as a slogan for Aztec basketball, according to a recent USA Today story. If all goes to plan, they could own the rights to the slogan by Aug. 25.

That’s a problem for some other teams, including the Utah State University basketball team, the Salt Lake Tribune reported July 17. The school owns a Utah state trademark for “I believe that we will win,” “I Believe,” “We Believe” and “Believe It,” which keeps other schools in their state from using the slogans, but an SDSU federal trademark would override Utah State’s rights.

SDSU’s filing will be up for opposition beginning July 22, giving other organizations 30 days to contest ownership of the slogan. Utah officials are determining what action to take, the Tribune reported, including legal recourse.

SDSU filed its application back in 2011, for use on clothing merchandise sold at its Aztec Shops. USA Today reported that, unless it’s defeated, the slogan will belong to the school by Aug. 25.

An Illinois company called Dormie Capital, Ltd. also filed for a trademark on “I believe that we will win” in July, but so far it hasn’t moved forward.

Ross’ crew ferries the essentials to new homeport

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Crewmembers aboard the destroyer Ross are eager to reach their new homeport — and stashed must-haves like bikes, above, in the ship’s nooks and crannies. / David Larter

ABOARD THE DESTROYER ROSS — Crewmembers are getting ready to head across the ocean for a homeport shift to Rota, Spain, and everyone has something they want to bring with them.

The ship left Norfolk on Tuesday but before they did, sailors found nooks and fan rooms to stow personal items to bring to the Old World with them.

Most of the ship’s tight spaces seem to be taken up by bikes. Word has is it that both the executive officer and the commanding officer stashed bikes on board. A couple of the officers were trying to rearrange tiny staterooms to accommodate guitars and amps.

The sailors have been busy loading stores and ammo but most are excited about the move. Those who didn’t want to move have largely transferred off the ship over the last year and a half.

The ship’s schedule has been jam-packed since the end of 2013 and it’s been hard for some to find housing in time to move their families and make all the arrangements that comes along with moving out of the country.

But when you ask them about Spain, most agree: they’re stoked. The ship recently returned from Operation Joint Warrior in 6th Fleet, a joint operation with the Royal Navy, and they had a five-day stop-over in Rota to scope out their new home. Most are eager to finally make the move.

On the way over, they’ll be breaking in their new fire-retardant coveralls they were issued Wednesday. For more on the Ross’ move, pick up a Navy Times issue next week.

Sailors mingle with TV stars at ‘The Last Ship’ premiere

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(From left to right) Producers Hank Steinberg and Brad Fuller, actors Rhona Mitra and Eric Dane, and  producer Steve Kane at The Last Ship's premiere June 4 in Washington, D.C.

(From left to right) Producers Hank Steinberg and Brad Fuller, actors Rhona Mitra and Eric Dane, and producer Steve Kane at The Last Ship’s premiere June 4 in Washington, D.C. (Paul Morigi,WireImage)

WASHINGTON — Cast members, producers, hundreds of sailors and even a few Coasties gathered here Wednesday night to attend the premiere of “The Last Ship,” a TV show in which the crew of the fictional destroyer Nathan James attempts to save the world from a deadly virus.

The stars walked the blue carpet at the Newseum in downtown Washington, D.C., while sailors mingled at a reception in the lobby to music from a Navy band to celebrate the opening of a drama where the U.S. Navy is the world’s last, best hope.

The Navy’s Office of Information-West played a key role in the show’s creation, producer Steve Kane told Navy Times, and he was happy to see it all finally come together.

“A lot of the last ship is really a meditation on leadership,” he said. “It’s a story about a captain trying to keep a ship together, and it’s a story about the sailors, trying to figure this thing out.”

The cast was able to spend time with real sailors and officers to learn about shipboard life, and when it came time to shoot the pilot, the Navy offered up the destroyer Halsey as the show’s set. The cast and crew spent three weeks filming in port in San Diego and another three days underway with the ship.

Guests look on as stars walk the blue carpet June at the premiere of The Last Ship in Washington, D.C. (Navy photo by MC1 Xander Gamble)

“We were able to talk to real ship captains about what they would do, and also real sailors about their life at sea,” he said. “Our goal was to, in a kind of super dramatic story, ground it in the reality of the Navy.”

Actor Adam Baldwin, who plays Nathan James’ executive officer Cmdr. Mike Slattery, said he’s pleased with the feedback he’s gotten from sailors. He was able to attend a screening of the pilot in the mess on the dock landing ship Oak Hill during New York’s fleet week in May.

“You couldn’t really hear too well, people were still clanking around with their food, but at a certain point, the crew was able to key in on the story itself and there were a few things, little nitpicky things they were able to see,” he said. “If we can win over sailors, then we’ve succeeded. You are our core audience.”

Baldwin said his co-starring relationship with Eric Dane, who plays ship commanding officer Cmdr. Tom Chandler, is a lot like the CO-XO relationship they act out on film.

“The XO and captain relationship is something that I was unaware of before I stepped onto this ship,” he said. “And what I’ve learned is that it’s an equal-among-peers relationship, with the captain having the final say. That’s my role as a supporting actor and that’s my role as the XO.”

Dane told Navy Times that the two have a running gin rummy game they began at the beginning of the season.

Eric Dane, a.k.a. Cmdr. Tom Chanlder, attends “The Last Ship” premiere June 4 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“We’re going to carry it on with the same two decks of cards as long as the show runs,” he said. “God willing, it’s five seasons, and we’ll have a ratty deck of cards at the end of the run.”

And what would a Navy show be without a SEAL and a love story? Actor Travis Van Winkle plays Lt. Dan Green, whose embedded team handles much of the dirty work as the ship’s crew tries to survive. Like his castmates, Van Winkle spent time with special operators to get a feel for their bearing.

“And what I found out is, these guys, they’re so soft, they’re so gentle,” he said. “They’re so creative and they’re so articulate. I expected them to be these hardened war veterans who had seen all this action, and they really surprised me with their grace.”

He also picked up what he described as a “look of knowing” that SEALs have, “knowing that at any second they could do whatever they wanted to you. I tried to just breathe that in as much as I could.”

Van Winkle’s Lt. Green is also tied up in a love affair with a female lieutenant junior grade on board. He took to heart the idea that their relationship had much wider implications than their feelings.

“One thing that happens is, how much do my personal matters get in the way of my service?” he said. “And I think when it comes to their service, that’s the big issue. They’re there to serve their country. In the show, I’m there to help do what I can do save the world. So whatever gets in the way of that, I need to choose what I focus on wisely.”

Despite the technical challenges of fictionalizing the Navy, producer Hank Steinberg said he wasn’t nervous at all about showing the pilot to a theater full of men and women in uniform.

“I think it shows the Navy in an incredibly flattering, heroic light,” he said. “I know because we’ve been working with the Navy all along, and they’ll tell us when they’re not happy. And they’re happy.”

The Last Ship premieres on TNT at 9 p.m. on June 22. Click here to see the trailer.

VIDEO: Top Coast Guardsman on push for new museum

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Adm. Bob Papp, who recently retired as the Coast Guard’s top officer, has made it his “pet project” to open a National Coast Guard Museum to highlight the service’s history in New London, Connecticut — near the Coast Guard Academy.

Papp sat down for an exclusive interview with Navy Times at the groundbreaking ceremony there in May. Check it out:

VIDEO: Fish vs. special warfare boat operators in new recruiting ad

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The folks at Jalopnik get credit for this discovery. Stay tuned until the final frame:

YouTube Preview Image

Sure, the special warfare combatant-craft crewman recruiting ad’s got the traditional blazing guns and the rousing soundtrack, but what’s your take on the twist? Too silly for a serious riverine outfit, or a memorable image suited for what’s becoming a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it youth culture?

Also, how long until the request-for-proposals goes out for the AquaKiller 3000 Automated Networked Geosynchronous Lightweight Ergonomic Ray (ANGLER)? At some point, you have to take the fight to the fish.

The video went up Friday on YouTube and already has more than 13,000 views.