Inside the Gates: U.S.S. Momsen ports in Anchorage
For the first time since 2015, a Navy Destroyer made it's way to the Port of Alaska.
"Right now, we know that the environment is changing," Director for Operations for Alaska Command Col. Mark Schmidt said. "What that means to us? We don't know. We want to understand and get after what capabilities and requirements are needed in this changing environment."
To do that, Alaska Command is hosting the first ever Arctic Maritime Symposium at JBER and the Port of Alaska. The event is designed to bring together senior military leaders to discuss strategic challenges in maritime operations in the Arctic.
"General Wilsbach specifically designed this to get the right minds and leaders here," Col. Schmidt said. "It's to get after the challenges and opportunities. We have Admiral Samuel Locklear here talked about his view from strategic points with leaders from the Navy and Coast Guard."
Locklear is a retired United States Navy admiral who last served as the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command from March 9, 2012, to May 27, 2015.
The Navy does not have the same presence in Alaska as the Army and Airforce. The arrival of the U.S.S. Momsen serves as a reminder that the Navy does work closely with other branches of the military and in Alaska.
"We're capable of working up in this area," U.S.S. Momsen Commanding Officer Elaine Brunelle said. "We are familiar with the waters. We're homebaord out of Everett, Washington. So working in close aboard land and some of the more challenging ports we do have a lot of that training and capabilities."
The U.S.S Momsen is 509 feet long, weighs 590 tons with 320 sailors on board and two helicopters. The ship is known as a multi-mission destroyer. It also houses 32 vertical launch missiles along with deck guns, torpedoes and multiple radars. Despite all the high tech equipment, during night travel and navigation, the staff still reverts to old-school ways of navigation by following the stars.
"We actually had the Coast Guard helicopters landing on our ship yesterday," U.S.S. Momsen Executive Officer Robert Laird said. "We work a lot with the Coast Guard especially in the Pacific Northwest region and Alaska area."
Including the Navy in maritime operations helps bring together joint operations with the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard in Alaska, forging together a well-rounded force of capability.
"One of the biggest reasons why we are here and the importance is the 322 members on board," Brunelle said. "They are always underway working really hard to defend the liberties and freedoms of not only the United States but others. Also, to be able to work with the community to do that and share with them everything that they do, every day, 24/7 and the pride they have in that. I think bringing the ship here to Alaska really brings that importance out."
The Navy has about 57 Destroyers with a few more under construction. The U.S.S. Momsen is part of Destroyer Squadron 31 based out of Hawaii with six sister ships.
The Alaska Command Arctic Maritime Symposium ends on August 16. The U.S.S. Momsen departs the Port of Alaska on August 17. Due to the smaller size of the ship and the short stay, the public will not be given tours.
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