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USS Coronado Deploys to Japan

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040308-17

Release Date: 3/8/2004 4:02:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Lisa Wassilieff, Public Affairs Center San Diego

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Coronado (AGF 11) sailed out of San Diego March 5 for its first major deployment to the Western Pacific since 1997.

The command and control ship, and former flagshp of Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, will temporarily fill in for USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet's flagship, while it undergoes a maintenance period.

For Senior Chief Electronics Technician Bill M. Porter, Coronado's senior enlisted leader, providing a command platform for the Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet staff will be a unique opportunity.

"We have a lot of ground to cover in taking on this responsibility. We will be taking care of a different staff. We will be meeting all their unique requirements, " Porter said.

Although this is a routine deployment for Coronado, except for the fact that the ship hasn't journeyed to the Far East in nearly seven years, this will be anything but routine for an innovation being implemented by the Navy and the Military Sealift Command.

Coronado is testing a new concept of manning during its trip to Japan. Usually, a ship of this type is manned by a crew of 481 Sailors. Coronado will have only 117 Sailors--and 146 Civilian Mariners (CIVMARS). This combined crew is an experiment directed at operating Navy ships at a reduced cost while maintaining and improving capability. Nelson D. Betram, a CIVMAR who works as Coronado's cargo officer, said he is looking forward to being part of this experiment and deployment.

"I am ready for this new adventure. I can't wait to sail the seven seas and spread the Navy's good will," said Bertram, 33, from Roswell, N.M.

During this deployment, CIVMARS will be performing the duties of navigation, propulsion and auxiliary machinery operation, maintenance and repair, food service and other utility type responsibilities. The Sailors aboard will be operating the communications and intelligence equipment, weapons systems and other command mission capabilities.

According to the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Chris D. Noble, this new process will bring positive results.

"I could compare having both Sailors and CIVMARS to having more variety in a toolbox. They each perform a necessary function. The mariners get to enjoy being Sailors at sea, while our Navy service members get to be warriors," said Noble, 48, from Tahlequah, Okla.

"I am proud of the crew and the CIVMARS for what they have accomplished so far," Noble added. "I hope for a safe, solid deployment."

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