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NNS021007-02 Hopper Returns From Deployment

Release Date: 10/7/2002 9:43:00 AM

By Lt. j.g. Courtenay Rogers, USS Hopper Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Operation Enduring Freedom means something different to each person.

For the crew of the USS Hopper (DDG 70), the key word is "enduring," as they operated at the "Tip of the Spear" and sailed over 41,000 nautical miles over the last six months.

Hopper was never alone in the fight, though. The coalition of ships formed in the Northern Arabian Sea worked together to execute each goal successfully.

Hopper had the unique opportunity to host two Australian commodores and work closely with the maritime interdiction operation commanders. Along with the staff, the Australians brought members of their parliament to show off the Aegis guided-missile destroyer. Hopper was quite the show ship, not just for the executives in the parliament, but also for a few news cameras.

In one week alone, the Hopper crew played host to the Australian "60 Minutes" news crew and representatives from Motion Picture Association of America. "60 Minutes Australia" came aboard to interview Capt. Peter Sinclair, the maritime interdiction operation commander for Fifth Fleet.

Hopper embarked the commodore and his staff in early July and continued to support them for the rest of their time on station in the Northern Arabian Sea. The news crew spent a few days on each ship in the Fifth Fleet area of operation, learning the role of each platform. The final stop was Hopper for the interview with the Australian staff.

Upon the departure of "60 Minutes," a combat camera team embarked Hopper. The cameramen are trained to use a high definition panavision digital camera, similar to the one used to film "Star Wars."

The cameramen followed the visit, board, search and seizure teams on different vessels in support of United Nations sanctions, along with filming everyday events such as flight quarters and small boat operations.

The military and a civilian production company from Hollywood teamed up with the Motion Picture Association of America to bring back the World War II style news reels using clips from the service members involved in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Jack Valenti, the president of Motion Pictures Association of America and a B-25 pilot in World War II, came up with the idea to bring back the old-fashioned news clips with a modern twist. A four-minute trailer comprised of ground forces and Sailors afloat aired across America in theaters on Sept. 11, one year after the terrible tragedy in New York City and Washington, D.C.

While on station in the Fifth Fleet area of operation, Hopper conducted numerous queries and boardings in support of United Nations sanctions. They embarked Coast Guard law enforcement detachments and various supporting elements.

Although the liberty was slim, the crew of Hopper did make it to Singapore, Guam, Bahrain, Darwin and Townsville. Most notably, Hopper was the first U.S. ship to make a brief stop for fuel in Sri Lanka in almost nine years.

Hopper's commanding officer, Cmdr. Ken Auten, hosted dignitaries from Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, India and many other nations. While in Singapore, the crew had a chance to give back to the community by helping a school rebuild their garden.

During one of the four visits to Bahrain, Gen. Tommy Franks, United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), made a special visit to present awards and to thank the crew for their hard work and dedication.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), Terry Scott, visited Hopper twice and challenged each Sailor to come back to Pearl Harbor as a surface warrior. There were 139 Sailors who earned their enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) pins during the deployment, allowing Hopper to fly the ESWS pennant for the first time.

Darwin, Australia, welcomed the ship by hosting a 9-11 Wreath Laying Remembrance Ceremony to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks. Members of the Northern Territory Parliament invited the crew to a small gathering where the American flag and Australian flag were raised while taps was played. Auten delivered a speech and thanked the Australians for their continued support and spoke of the war we were all fighting.

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