OFF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS – “War Dragon” entered RIMPAC with a boom, as her sailors were afforded a rare opportunity to show off their missile-firing skills, launching a Harpoon and sinking a de-commissioned US warship.
In the “sinkex” portion of its initial schedule for the famed three week-long war fighting event, CHOSIN participated in sinking ex-USS NEW ORLEANS, a former helicopter carrier de-commissioned in 1997. CHOSIN, along with several other multi-national ships, used missiles and other gun systems to make the NEW ORLEANS a natural reef July 14.
"That's the first Harpoon I've ever shot," said Lt. Leos, the Weapons Officer for CHOSIN, serving on his fourth ship in his 15-year career.
The rarity of Harpoons being shot is mostly financial, costing upwards of $1 million per missile. But despite the rarity of these launchings fleet-wide, War Dragon is well acclimated to firing missiles of late.
“We are very fortunate to say that we have actually fired every major weapons system we have in the last 12 months,” indicated Capt. David Sheridan, commanding officer of CHOSIN, during a 1MC announcement on the ship, referring to SM-2 and others missiles also being fired during a recent deployment.
Sailors on CHOSIN got a glimpse of the launching in only select locations on the ship, including Combat Information Center, the bridge, helo control tower, and the helo hangar. For the vast majority of the crew that viewed the launching, it will be their last time doing so.
“It was something I’ll certainly never forget,” said Fire Controlman Chief Petty Officer Christopher Glaser. “I’m sure it will be the last time I’ll see (Harpoon) go off, but, wow, it was awesome to see that weapon being fired.”
Glaser has maintained Harpoon, among other weapons systems for over 18 years.
“What I remember most is looking back at the smoke billowing off the old carrier, standing on the bridge wing and seeing, in a row, eight ships with their main batteries pointing at it and wondering if this is what settings during World War II looked like.” said Sheridan in a later interview. War Dragon continues through RIMPAC, conducting operations with multi-national ships in air defense, anti-subsurface, surface, aircraft, and small boat. The event runs until the end of July, with the closing ceremonies set forth for July 31.