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Commander, Submarine Group Two


 
 
 
 
USS Boise Sailors Assist in Sea Turtle Rescue
 
NORFOLK, Va. –  As a sonar technician assigned to the Los Angeles class attack submarine USS Boise (SSN 764), Matt Baker is accustomed to operating highly-technical sonar and oceanographic equipment.  As the “eyes and ears” of his boat during patrols in the world’s deep blue oceans and seas, he has been exposed to many unique experiences.  On Oct. 6, while his submarine was moored pier side in its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Baker added to his resume of unique experiences.
           
Baker, along with several other Sailors from Boise and personnel from Naval Station Norfolk, helped rescue a juvenile loggerhead turtle who was struggling for survival and facing certain peril.
             
“While on a topside watch several of my shipmates and I were alerted by our parent command that a sea turtle had been spotted in our vicinity,” said the 31-year-old St. Charles, Mo., native.  “We spotted the turtle and then alerted a Naval Station Norfolk patrol craft.  It was the largest turtle I have ever seen and will always remember helping save it.”
           
Tom Scheele, a machinist’s mate fireman who maintains the submarine’s battery, was also on the pier with Baker.
           
“The turtle was portside of the Boise, obviously injured,” said Scheele, a 20-year-old native of Island Lake, Ill.  “It kept coming up for air and then going back down below the surface.  Once spotted, we pointed out the turtle’s location to a patrol boat with a marine expert who had been searching several hours for the turtle.”
           
Another spotter, Matt Moubray, was impressed with the way the patrol boat personnel executed the rescue.
          
“They were trying desperately at first to get the turtle on the patrol boat by hooking the shell,” said Moubray, a 27-year-old native of Warsaw, Va., and electronics technician who works in the submarine’s communications department.  “But the turtle was so big, this wasn’t initially working.  So, with a combination of net, hook, and hands, they managed to get the turtle onboard.”
           
The loggerhead, appropriately named Boise, was transported to the Virginia Aquarium’s Marine Animal Care Center in Virginia Beach, Va., for diagnosis and treatment.
           
According to Marcia Thomas, who was part of the rescue crew in the patrol boat and a stranding response technician at the center, Boise had some concerning issues.
           
 “The carapace was soft and loaded with barnacles, and foul-smelling. Boise also has some damage on the rear left flipper, which combined with his carapace injury, affected his mobility and encouraged the barnacle growth.  If Boise could talk, I’m sure he would give all that were involved at Naval Station Norfolk a salute of thanks.”
           
Shannon Davis, another stranding response technician at the care center elaborated on Boise’s status.
           
“A radiograph revealed that Boise suffered a fractured left-front flipper,” said Davis.  “The injury on the shell is old but not deep enough to penetrate the body cavity.  He is being treated using wound therapy. The outlook is good.”
           
Lt. j.g. Dave Couchman, the Boise supply officer and public affairs officer, said the crew of Boise want to wish their “namesake” the best.
           
“We want to wish Boise a speedy recovery,” said Couchman.  “Our crewmembers are great stewards of the environment and are proud of helping a ‘fellow sea creature.’  Boise the turtle owes a lot to the alert watchstanders and Sailors from Boise the submarine.”
           
During the past twelve months the Boise has had a successful run of events. 
 
Three days prior to Christmas in 2010, Boise, commanded by Cmdr. Brian Sittlow, returned from an extremely challenging and successful deployment to the European Command supporting national security interests and conducting Maritime Security Operations.  On Feb. 11, Boise was recognized for effective leadership and commitment to establish and maintain a foundation of personal, professional, and operational excellence by earning the 2010 Commander, Submarine Squadron Eight Battle Efficiency “E” award.   In addition, the ship was awarded the Engineering “E,” Navigation “N,” Communications “C,” Supply “E,” and Medical “M” awards for departmental excellence.  And on May 9, 2011, Adm. John C. Harvey, Jr., Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command announced via a Navy message that Boise had won the 2010 Battenberg Cup Award as the best all-around ship in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet – only the third time a submarine had ever won the prestigious award. 
 
Fast-attack submarines like Boise have multi-faceted missions.  They use their stealth, persistence, agility and firepower to deploy and support special force operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary’s military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from close proximity, and ensure undersea superiority.
           
Nicknamed “A One Ship Fleet,” Boise is the second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of Idaho’s capital city.  Built by Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat Division, Boise was commissioned, November 7, 1992.  The 360-foot ship has a crew compliment of 13 officers and 121 enlisted Sailors.
 
For more information on the submarine force visit the Submarine Force web site at www.sublant.navy.mil