In the Military
Hilo vets facility gets $2.3M boost for project
Gov. Linda Lingle has released nearly $2.3 million to build the new 95-bed Hilo Veterans Home facility which should be completed by summer 2007. The Big Island facility will provide both long-term care and adult day care services for Big Island veterans.
The $2.3 million will be added to the $7.7 million in state funds already appropriated to finance a feasibility study, planning and design, and demolition expenses to raze the old Hilo Hospital building. It will be matched by another $18.2 million in federal funds. Construction is expected to be completed by summer of 2007.
Petty Officer Larry Cummins, aviation mechanic with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Two at Kaneohe Bay, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal last month by Adm. Mike Mullens, chief of naval operations, for rescuing a 15-year-old girl who was trapped in her car that had gone off an Ala Wai Harbor pier on Jan. 14.
The 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Team will be among the first Stryker units which will get a version of the eight-wheeled, 19-ton vehicle that will be equipped with a 105 mm cannon.
Tripler Army Medical Center has honored Master Sgt. Thomas Wallsmith who had served at the Honolulu medical facility and was killed in Iraq last October by a roadside bomb. On Feb. 7, Tripler officials placed a plaque on the respiratory care wing of the hospital where Wallsmith, 39, served from 1997-99. Wallsmith was killed Oct. 26 when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Rustamiyah. He was serving as senior health care noncommissioned officer in the 3rd Forward Support Battalion of the Division Support Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.
The Congressional Quarterly reported this month that President Bush, in his 2007 budget, has requested $45 million to continue to develop and build miniature submarines -- the prototype now stationed at Pearl Harbor -- as part of the Special Operations Command. The report said that more than a half-billion dollars have been spent in the mini-sub program since it was started in 1994.
The Congressional Quarterly said the mini-sub, which was supposed to be used by Navy SEALs, suffered a setback in November after a suspicious noise developed in the submarine's propeller shaft during sea trials off Hawaii. The Pentagon canceled further purchases from Northrop Grumman until the prototype is perfected.
The Advanced SEAL Delivery System mini-sub is about 65 feet long with a beam of 7 feet -- slightly longer than and roughly the same shape as a semi-trailer -- and a displacement of about 60 tons. It can carry more than five, in addition to a two-person crew, who can enter and exit through an air lock in the belly. At sea, the vessel rides in a cradle on the afterdeck of a full-sized submarine.
But from the beginning the mini-sub has had problems. Its battery, which was supposed to save money as an off-the-shelf purchase, was replaced when it didn't work. The replacement battery has not been proven. In 2003, nearly a decade into the program, the Government Accountability Office reported that 13 of the submarine's 16 most important requirements had not been met, including goals for speed, depth, quietness and the ability to survive attack, the report said.
The sub's propeller made too much noise for its stealthy missions, the GAO said. The Pentagon testers' latest report said that trials show the sub is now hard to detect. But if the vessel is attacked, the report said, "results of modeling indicate there are problems with hull-mounted components and crew protection."
Spokeswoman Debbi McCallam told the Congressional Quarterly that since the prototype was delivered to Special Operations in 2000, Northrop Grumman "has a very good record of meeting schedule and operating within cost." The boat, she said, "has consistently performed well."
"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako
, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at email@example.com