'Dare and Do'
on friendly mission
The USS Hopper made its presence felt when it came into port at
Colombo last week. Unlike the regular container/cargo vessels that
are usually anchored at the Unity Container Terminal, this impressive
US Navy missile destroyer added a military touch to the scene at
stopover was a fuel halt during which the US Embassy arranged for
a conducted tour of the ship, considered one of the most capable
warships ever built. The USS Hopper which belongs to Pacific Fleet
cruisers based at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii is named after Rear Admiral
Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneer in computer technology during World
War II and one of the earliest female admirals in the US Navy. It
is now under the command of Kenneth W. Auten of the United States
"The visit of the USS Hopper is emblematic of the friendship
between the people of the United States and the people of Sri Lanka.
I am especially pleased that we are again seeing an American ship
visit Colombo after such a long time," said Ashley Wills, American
The ship's mission
is to operate offensively in a high density, multi-threat environment
as an integral member of a battle group, surface action group, amphibious
task group (land and water) or underway replenishment group. "Dare
and Do," is their motto. Watching the reputed US Marines in
their working environment was a remarkable experience. The Central
Control station is responsible for propelling the ship through the
water. It is equipped with three electrical plants to generate their
pushed through different filters to get up to 15000 gallons of fresh
water a day. Crew in this section are trained in damage control
- fire, leaks and floods.
The Combat Information Centre is where the Operation Specialists
sit. It can house almost 30-40 members during combat. Their sophisticated
radars, sensors and electronic systems can detect any hostile obstacle
around them. communications system.
The USS Hopper
has the most powerful systems and equipment on board suitable for
any type of warfare - air, surface or undersea. It is even equipped
to land helicopters.
Half the officers and 30% of the crew of more than 300 are women.
The last time this ship was in battle was in 1998 during Operation
Desert Fox. The ship can go at a speed of 39 knots, which is roughly
about 65 km per hour and can stay at sea for two weeks or more if
food does not run out.
It is not all
work for the crew of this battle ship, though. Their wardroom for
dining and recreation has a TV and radio, a place where they get
a job I have to do," said Tamara Conaut, the strike officer
in charge of weapons, when asked if she liked what she was doing.
The ship is also equipped to neutralize targets beyond hostile shorelines,
to avoid enemy mines and for electronic warfare. The crew is therefore
assured of safety from chemical, biological and radiological hazards
through the use of protection zones within the ship.
With its sophisticated
and complicated equipment, the inside looked like a Star Wars spaceship.
Even at the Colombo Port, vigilant crew wearing masks and bulletproof
vests manned their guns on the deck.
is yet unknown," says officer Courtenay Rogers. They now make
their way through the Indian Ocean to join the US Central Command's
Fleet as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, a code name used for
the US war against terrorism.