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At Sea - Winners of the DC Olympics (from left to right): Electronics Technician First Class Russell Shirk, Electronics Technician Third Class Jeffrey Christiansen, Commander James Brown (Captain of USS GARY) Electronics Technician Seaman Justin Davis and Electronics Technician Second Class Joshua Turner. (Photo by ENS McConnaughey)
USS Gary Celebrates New Year with Damage Control Olympics and Boarding of Suspected Drug-Trafficking Vessel 
ENS Ian McConnaughey 
USS GARY, At Sea  – The torch of the 2012 Olympics in London has been extinguished for some time, but onboard guided missile frigate USS Gary (FFG 51), the new year brought with it GARY’s own Damage Control Olympics. The DC Olympics were held over the course of two days and were finished on New Year’s Day. Even as the DC Olympics went on, mission essential operations and New Year’s celebrations were not forgotten. GARY’s crew and her Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment conducted a boarding of a suspected drug trafficking vessel during the DC Olympics. Afterwards they celebrated with a roasted whole pig dinner to cap off New Year’s Day.

Divided into 12 four man teams, GARY’s DC Olympians were timed in several events including suiting up in full firefighting gear, aligning and using dewatering equipment, emergency egresses from main engineering spaces while blindfolded, as well as a final dash to dewater a 50 gallon trash can with buckets. The winners of the competition were GARY’s Electronics Technicians and were honored with a specially soldered fire hose nozzle. The team was comprised of Electronics Technician First Class Russell Shirk, Electronics Technician Second Class Joshua Turner, Electronics Technician Third Class Jeffrey Christiansen, and Electronics Technician Seaman Justin Davis.

"It was wet fun. We had some trouble with the ram fan and couldn’t get it to go the right way the first day, but we took first in the egress and flaking out the fire hose and prepping our hose team to come out on top," said Electronics Technician Second Class Joshua Turner.

While all this was going on, the ship was busy conducting Counter Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) operations by boarding a small panga suspected of carrying narcotics. While the sea state was extremely rough, the boarding team and those onboard GARY were able to maintain station and conduct the boarding without incident.

"It felt good to successfully perform our mission. It’s a good reminder of what we’re doing out here," said Ensign Jeffrey Clayton, one of the Boat Officer’s during the boarding.

As the day wound down, the crew was rewarded for its physical and operational efforts with a roast pig feast provided by the ship’s Culinary Specialists and galley. Culinary Specialist Chief Petty Officer Kalama Kramer used his "magic seasoning" to offer the crew something out of the ordinary to start off the New Year, and the results left the crew with full bellies and in good spirits.

"I thought we rang in the New Year pretty well here. We rang it in style by chasing down the panga and topped it off well with that roast pig. It certainly was good for morale. It was a good one, with many more to come," said Fire Controlman Chief Petty Officer Jerry Sutherland.

Gary is home ported in San Diego, and is currently deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean in support of Operation Martillo and U.S. 4th Fleet's mission, Southern Seas 2012.

Operation Martillo (Spanish for "hammer") is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of U.S. Southern Command.

Operation Martillo is part of the U.S. government's coordinated regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Security Initiative.

Fourteen countries are participating: Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
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