By 2LT Marianne Saltnes and Sgt. Marthe Brendefur
10,435 nautical miles to Pearl Harbor. 6 months at sea. “Fox” surely demonstrates Norway’s will to support USA in their areas of interest.
“Is Norway a country?” “Where is it?” The questions were many when we arrived in Pearl Harbor and met the other participants. We tried to explain that Norway is a small country on the other side of the world, in northern Europe. Norway is the home of snow, steep mountains, midnight sun, Voss Water and Harald Zwart. (A quick Google-search will also tell you that Paris Hilton, Marilyn Monroe and Walter Mondale claim to be Norwegian, which is news to us. I thought they were American.)
It is also home of HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, a multi-role frigate which has participated in several operations since it was commissioned in 2007. But what does it take to get a warship from the Arctic areas in Europe, to tropical Hawaii?
The plan is everything
For our crew, the exercise started when we left our homeport in Norway the 12th of May, but for those working with the logistics it had begun months before. We started planning RIMPAC 14 when we were deployed in OP RECSYR (removal of chemical agents from Syria). When we deployed for an undecided time on with three-days’ notice to Syria, we didn’t know if we were still going to RIMPAC, but luckily we started planning for it.
Our logistics department delivers everything from million dollar missiles to food and band-aids. What’s special for us is all the parts that can only be delivered in Norway, and also the Naval Strike Missiles. Coordinating everything from small parts and spikes to advanced technical equipment to such a broad field of expertise, from medical to tactical operations, surely demands a functional logistics department.
We embarked HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen after our leave, and quickly got started with the preparations. We only had a couple of weeks at port before departing for RIMPAC. Luckily for our storekeeper, the Nansen was filled to the roof with toilet paper, as a greeting from the crew that sailed the ship during Operation Ocean Shield in Somalia. I think we have such amounts that we never have to order toilet paper again. Ever. Alternatively, we can be RIMPAC’s official deliverer of this necessity…
Sailing to the other side of the world means you get to experience new harbors. We’ve visited some pretty exotic places (for us Norwegians at least, they’re very exotic) such as Ponta Delgada, Santo Domingo and Panama before joining the group sail from San Diego to Hawaii.
For us RIMPAC will be a 6-month journey.
For me, RIMPAC has been very interesting and intense. As a “Baby-Doc” I’m responsible for the medical equipment, the education of our first responders, and ensuring that our medical department is ship shape; and, of course, fixing cuts, wounds and blisters. I must admit; I also have a habit of “injuring” sailors and placing them around the ship for others to find. Preferably the casualties are good actors. We’ve made up some pretty dramatic love stories… When you don’t have Grey’s Anatomy you make your own soaps, right? Best thing about that is that you get to help fix the casualties yourself, though it’s kind of like wrapping your own Christmas gift.
Speaking of drama, the real casualties always seem to happen at night for the extra effect. During the group sail we had to do a medevac to the USS Peleliu in the middle of the night. We train as realistically as possible, but it’s still something completely different when it’s a no-play situation. Arriving at Peleliu, the patient went straight into surgery, and luckily he was all right. Thank you USS Peleliu!
The medical department is part of the ship’s logistics. Getting all the crew members vaccinated and ready to go takes a good amount of planning and coordinating. Also, getting everybody cleared through the Panama Canal tends to be a lot of paperwork…
We’re happy to be a part of this exercise and enjoy meeting other participants and learning new things every day.