USS O’Kane calls on Nawiliwili

There will be some competition for dock space in Nawiliwili Harbor this weekend.

And, judging by the guns on one of the ships competing for harbor space, this is one the members of the crews aboard the cruise ships and cargo barges don’t want to mess with.

But the USS O’Kane (DDG 77) crew members come in peace.

For the first time in two or three years, a U.S. Navy ship will call on Nawiliwili.

The O’Kane, a Pearl-Harbor-based, guided-missile destroyer, is returning from operations in the Persian Gulf in support of American troops in Iraq, and is expected to arrive in Nawiliwili Harbor Saturday morning, with the captain delaying the arrival of the ship in order to accommodate regularly-scheduled cruise-ship arrivals and departures, said Larry Schlang of Kilauea, a retired U.S. Navy officer who has been working to get activities and accommodations discounts for some of the 364 officers and enlisted personnel aboard.

It was in the Persian Gulf from August, he said.

So far, Schlang and others have arranged for a special tour of and reception at the National Tropical Botanical Garden at Lawa’i Kai, discounted room rates at both the Courtyard by Marriott in Waipouli and the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club in Lihu’e, and reduced-rate helicopter tours, Na Pali Coast tours, all-terrain-vehicle tours, lu’au, and more.

Rich Jasper at JJ’s Broiler has offered up some gift certificates, Schlang said.

Albert Moe, a retired U.S. Navy commander and president of the Kaua’i Council of the Navy League, is also a volunteer at NTBG, so has arranged for that excursion, said Schlang.

The USS O’Kane is the 27th Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and at 505 feet long is shorter than most of the cruise ships that call on Nawiliwili, though much more lethal.

It is a multi-mission vessel designed to conduct simultaneous operations against land, air, surface and subsurface targets. The ship can operate independently, or in support of carrier-battle groups, surface-action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups.

O’Kane’s combat systems center around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-1D, multi-function, phased-array radar. The Aegis combat weapons system combines spaceage communication, radar and weapons technologies in a single platform for unlimited flexibility, according to the ship’s public-affairs officer.

Much Aegis-systems training is conducted in the open-ocean range of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, near Mana and Kekaha on the Westside.

The O’Kane is equipped with the Harpoon anti-ship cruise-missile system, and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. The ship arrived at Pearl Harbor Oct. 15, 1999, and was commissioned there Oct. 23, 1999.

An informal ship tour is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m. The O’Kane is named for Rear Adm. Richard H. O’Kane (1911-1994), who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring attacks on two Japanese convoys while in command of the World War II submarine USS Tang (SS 306) in 1944.

After his submarine was sunk, the Japanese captured then-Cmdr. O’Kane, who spent the rest of the war in captivity.

Schlang said he met O’Kane in person when O’Kane was a captain, and Schlang danced with his daughter at a Navy party.

Schlang is vice president of BordenHammanAgency,Inc., of Kilauea, Dallas, Texas, and Reno, Nevada, an insurance and investments company.

Anyone interested in offering up discounts or other welcoming gifts for the sailors may call Moe, 651-6592.

For more information on the O’Kane, please see the Web sites, www.hawaii.navy.mil (U.S. Navy Hawai’i Region), www.okane.navy.mil (the ship site), or www.navy.mil (the U.S. Navy site)

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