Friday, August 13, 1999


Pacific Fleet to
monitor launch of
N. Korea missile

The head of the U.S. Navy is on
his first visit to Hawaii

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Navy Secretary Richard Danzig says the Pacific Fleet has sent warships to monitor an expected test launch of a new North Korean ballistic missile.

"We have taken some steps to particularly allocate some ships to be in the position to observe whatever the Koreans might do," Danzig told reporters yesterday after speaking to the Wahiawa-Waialua Rotary Club.

"It's just a normal part of what we have the 7th Fleet for: to be able to observe any action that has military significance anywhere in the world, and also by our presence to calm the concerns countries may have that they may be undefended."

Earlier this week, the missile-tracking units of the 17,015-ton USNS Observation Island and the 2,262-ton USNS Invincible were deployed from Japan. Both ships belong to the Military Sealift Command and are capable of collecting missile-launch data and tracking the flight of ballistic missiles.

Danzig said the presence of the 7th Fleet is also a "positive force" in calming the rising tensions between China and Taiwan.

Exceeding recruitment goals

Two aircraft carrier battle groups -- USS Kitty Hawk and USS Constellation -- are currently in the China Sea. Four Pearl Harbor-based warships -- USS Chosin, USS Lake Erie, USS Santa Fe and USS Olympia -- belong to the Constellation battle group.

Three years ago, warships from the 7th Fleet were sent to the Taiwan Strait to prevent a takeover of Taiwan by China.

Relations between China and the United States are strained because of the U.S. prodding of human rights, charges of nuclear espionage and the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy during the recent conflict in the Balkans.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Charlie Duncan, left, president of the Wahiawa-Waialua Rotary
Club, thanks Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig yesterday
following his speech. Danzig spoke about the Pacific Fleet and
some of the changes that lie ahead for the Navy in Hawaii.

This is Danzig's first visit to the islands since becoming the 71st civilian head of the Navy and the Marine Corps on Nov. 16, 1998.

He told reporters that unlike the Air Force and Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps have exceeded their recruiting goal of 53,000 new enlistees this past year, or about 1,000 new recruits each week.

In Hawaii, recruiters have exceeded their goal for 54 months in a row, Danzig said.

He also said the civilian cruise ship SS Independence will be overhauled at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard as early as January.

"This is positive in both directions," Danzig said, "clearly good for us and the cruise lines. And in the end, it's clearly good for Hawaii."

New ideas for training

In his speech, Danzig said there are attempts under way to recognize that the Navy is drawing different types of people today and that training should be more than just scraping, chipping and repainting ships "because manpower is free."

One such pilot project, initiated by Danzig and tested in San Diego, was the use of private contractors to scrape off old paint from Navy ships and repaint them -- a duty usually delegated to first-term sailors.

He predicted that such a practice could be extended to Pearl Harbor in the future.

"We are very concerned to increase the well-being of sailors by innovative ways of doing maintenance work," said the Yale University-trained lawyer. "This shipyard will reflect that over time as we introduce these new techniques."

Danzig added that in October the Navy will introduce a program under which a sailor could earn college credits for work experience and training received during a four-year term and, coupled with other courses, that could mean an associate degree.

"We can transform the character of our service," he said.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin