NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- "Captain, we will be receiving USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8) 1300, and USS Shamal (PC 13) 1200 today alongside for safe haven. All service shops have been informed and pier preps are completed."
This was the message Chief Boatswain's Mate Americo Medina, leading chief petty officer for Naval Station Newport's (NSNPT) Port Operations, sent to Capt. Ian Johnson, NSNPT's commanding officer, last Friday morning. This may not seem like an unusual statement on board a Naval Station but it is not routine communications from the waterfront of the Navy's Center of Excellence for Officer and Senior Enlisted Education and Training.
With one operational pier, NSNPT is homeport to four U.S. Coast Guard cutters and one National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Research Vessel. U.S. Navy ships arrive periodically in support of the Surface Warfare Officer's School (SWOS) Schools-Ship Program; when they are in the area in need of refueling; have an unforeseen mechanical issue and in support of the Chief of Naval Operations International Sea Power Symposium held biennially. To receive two unscheduled Navy vessels with less than 48-hour notice spurred the eight-man port operations team into action.
"We sent the logistical requirement out on the sixth. It typically takes several days for a response but Medina responded within hours so there was zero stress regarding our support when we arrived," said Lt. j.g. John D. Watson, Jr., who is triple-hatted on board Shamal as the executive officer, operations officer and navigator. "There are worse places to be stuck than Newport, Rhode Island, especially in the fall," he added with a grin.
"We were extremely pleased with the welcome we received here and could not have asked for anything more. They even built us a brow stand," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Arndt, Shamal's commanding officer.
Shamal was tied up in front of the Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) which was in Newport as part of a scheduled SWOS visit. Cole was hosting tours pre-arranged by the schools throughout the installation and many of those visitors also had a chance to learn a bit about the mission and capabilities of the patrol craft.
"It's been good for us to promote our ship; the general knowledge of what we do and to show another type of platform that not many people are familiar with," said Arndt.
The Spearhead-Class Expeditionary Fast Transport USNS Yuma departed the installation on Tuesday but the Cyclone-Class Patrol Ship USS Shamal remains alongside Pier 2 due to the weather forecast. She can remain as long as needed in this safe haven; Medina and his port operations team have everything under control.
Naval Station Newport is home to more than 50 tenant commands including such prestigious institutions as U.S. Naval War College, Surface Warfare Officers School Command, Officer Training Command Newport, Navy Supply Corps School, Naval Justice School, Naval Academy Preparatory School and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The last homeported Navy ship departed Newport, Rhode Island for relocation to Norfolk, Virginia in 1991.
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