PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) wardroom hosted Bruce Blankenfeld of Niu Valley, Hawaii during a visit Oct. 6.
Blankenfeld met the crew and gave a small synopsis of a continuing partnership with Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), Chung-Hoon and the U.S. Navy.
Blankenfeld serves as a skipper on the Hokule'a and crew training coordinator for PVS. The Hokule'a is a traditional Polynesian canoe.
The Navy has a long-standing relationship with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Students from the PVS received survival safety training from search and rescue (SAR) Sailors assigned to Afloat Training Group (ATG) Middle Pacific. Sailors also in the past have volunteered to assist with fixing and painting facilities, sanding and refurbishing canoes, and advising voyagers.
The spirited visit started with Chung-Hoon's commanding officer, Cmdr. Tom Ogden, a native of Falls Church, Virginia, and Blankenfeld quickly becoming acquainted. They spoke of their love for the sea before heading for lunch in the wardroom.
The quasi symposium was attentive and calm with only the sound of Blankenfeld's voice and the utensils clanking the dinnerware as the officers listened to Blankenfeld tell stories about his many Hokule'a's Worldwide Voyage adventures and general nautical experiences.
A key moment came towards the end of the visit when Blankenfeld said navigational experience comes with, a term that all Navy Sailors can relate to, "Sea Time."
"Learning the seas and weather patterns comes with sea time," said Blankenfeld. "It takes practice and studying but you got to get out there to truly learn to navigate."
Chung-Hoon Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Tom Ogden, expressed his enthusiasm for the experience he and his junior officers received during the visit.
"First, it is important to stay connected with the people, cultures and organizations in Hawaii," said Ogden. "Today we met Mr. Blankenfeld. He is an accomplished and amazing navigator and captain. Listening to his experiences will give the wardroom a sense of understanding Polynesian voyaging.
Ogden said he learned celestial navigation when he was a navigator on a destroyer in 2001 as well as in college. It wasn't as extensive as the Polynesian Voyaging Society training, but he said it was a useful tool to have.
He believes the visit will lead to an invaluable relationship between Chung-Hoon and Blankenfeld and the Polynesian culture.
"I hope my officers get an understanding of how modern U.S. Navy navigation, shares and differs from, ancient and traditional navigational techniques, " said Ogden. "We are incorporating traditional techniques in our navigational training curriculum. Having a well-accomplished Captain like Mr. Blankenfeld come and speak will have a lasting and positive impact on our young navigators."
The Hokule'a's Worldwide Voyage promotes education, the environment and sustainable energy as well as ensures continuity with the next generation.
Blankenfeld is set to return to the Hokule'a in the coming weeks as the vessel continues to sail around the world. It is currently in New York.
USS Chung-Hoon was commissioned on Sept. 18, 2004. It is the namesake of Rear Adm. Gordon P. Chung-Hoon, born in Honolulu, July 25, 1910. He is a recipient of the Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of USS Sigsbee from May 1944 to October 1945. In the spring of 1945, Sigsbee assisted in the destruction of 20 enemy planes while screening a carrier strike force off the Japanese island of Kyushu.
On April 14, 1945, while on radar picket station off Okinawa, a kamikaze crashed into Sigsbee, reducing her starboard engine to five knots and knocking out the ship's port engine and steering control. Despite the damage, then-Cmdr. Chung-Hoon valiantly kept his antiaircraft batteries delivering "prolonged and effective fire" against the continuing enemy air attack, while simultaneously directing the damage control efforts that allowed his ship to make port under her own power. Chung-Hoon retired in October 1959 and died in July 1979.
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