Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Jayhawks enjoy meaningful, memorable tour of USS Chafee at Pearl Harbor

Landen Lucas OK despite wearing walking boot

The Kansas Jayhawks talk with navy personnel during a tour of the USS Chafee, a guided missile destroyer at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Kansas Jayhawks talk with navy personnel during a tour of the USS Chafee, a guided missile destroyer at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.


— Kansas coach Bill Self is used to being at the top of the college basketball world. But sitting at the helm of a 509-foot long, active U.S. Navy destroyer is a whole different experience.

Such was the scene Wednesday at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, where Self and the Jayhawks toured the USS Chafee during their day with the military.

From learning about the ship’s weapons systems and operating methods — both getting up to top speed of 30 knots and dropping anchor to stop — to actually handling some of the shells and seeing where the captain drives the ship, the Jayhawks went through a 45-minute, question-and-answer tour chaperoned by several U.S. Navy personnel, who were more than happy to show off their shiny ship.

The 13-year-old ship, painted “Haze Gray” returned to port two weeks ago from a six-week, open-sea training activity off the coast of Southern California.

While several members of the ship’s crew were overjoyed to have the Jayhawks on board — one woman had several coaches and players sign a KU shirt and Sgt. Vick Patel, of Overland Park, was wearing the Kansas polo he bought when the team won the national championship in 2008 — the Jayhawks appeared to be just as pleased with the opportunity to see a real naval ship.

Self asked several questions about the specifics of what they were shown, team managers took pictures and videos of all parts of the ship and the players paid close attention throughout the afternoon, with some handling some of the shells and getting a first-person feel for a handful of the duties carried out on the ship.

Few were able to top KU’s Director of Student-Athlete Development, Fred Quartlebaum, though. Coach Q, as they call him, made sure to take a seat and pose for a photo in the captain’s chair. Jacked by the opportunity, Quartlebaum, who was an assistant coach at Navy from 1992-96, quickly boasted that he would send the photo to some of his Navy buddies.

Self was not without his light-hearted moments. In addition to encouraging strength and conditioning director Andrea Hudy to pose for a photo behind the steering wheel in the control room, Self joked with Petty Officer, first class Nelson Feliciano about his New York City roots.

“Is that true what they say about Queens being the softest of the five buroughs,” Self joked within earshot of assistant coach Norm Roberts, a Queens native himself, who was the head coach at St. John’s from 2004-10.

Rather than attempt to prove otherwise, Feliciano and Roberts simply laughed.

There were plenty of serious moments on the USS Chafee on Wednesday. Nearly all of the players and coaches onboard posed for photos and shook hands with the ship’s crew and Self went out of his way more than once to utter words similar to, “I appreciate you guys. Thanks for what you do.”

The words were far from lip service. Tuesday, shortly after the Jayhawks arrived in Hawaii, Self told reporters that the Armed Forces Classic’s tie to the U.S. Military and 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor played a big part in KU making the trip to Hawaii for the second year in a row.

“It’s the reason why we came,” Self said. “We wouldn’t have come if it weren’t for that. We were just here last year (at the Maui Invitational), we’re not gonna have a big contingent of fans here. Most of our fans, I think, will be in New York (for the Champions Classic vs. No. 1 Duke on Tuesday) and we knew that. But it was an opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime type deal, to be a part of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. We’ll get an education in some ways that, obviously, none of us would’ve had an opportunity to get.”

Landen Lucas OK

Self said Wednesday before the Jayhawks fulfilled their military interactions at Pearl Harbor that senior forward Landen Lucas was wearing a walking boot on his right foot as a preventative measure and that Lucas was not in jeopardy of missing Friday’s season opener against No. 11 Indiana.

Self said Lucas was a full participant during the Jayhawks’ 90-minute practice session Wednesday morning and that there was no evidence of a stress fracture at this time.

“It’s nothing but a sore foot,” Self said. “They just don’t want it to become (a stress fracture).”

Lucas joined the team in touring the USS Chafee destroyer during the afternoon and also went to the USS Arizona Memorial and participated in the kids clinic later Wednesday night without the boot.


Dale Rogers 5 years, 9 months ago

What's this about a SGT (sergeant) being on the ship? SGT is not a Navy rank. I don't recall non-Navy personnel ever being assigned to a destroyer. Technically, the Chaffee is a DDG, which is a "guided missile destroyer" which is different from a DD, which is a destroyer. Not a big difference other than the missiles but if I recall they are a bit larger than a destroyer. But my Navy days are several decades in the past so maybe I'm not up on the changes in ship's company.

Matt Tait 5 years, 9 months ago

You're correct about the DDG and DD distinction. We did learn that. As for the SGT bit, it's possible Patel is in the Air Force given that this is a Joint Base and he may have just been on the ship today because the Jayhawks were there. Either way, he was a great guy and it was a great day.

Freya Duffy 5 years, 9 months ago

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Dale Rogers 5 years, 8 months ago

You're probably right, Matt. He also might be a Marine since they also have sergeants and are more closely tied to the Navy. A DDG is a relatively small ship with a relatively small complement of ship's company. Thus, a SGT on a DDG is more likely a visitor or temporarily on board for a particular mission. Either way, it's a reasonable explanation. Thanks.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 8 months ago

You are welcome, Jay, and thank you for saying so. And thanks to all the many veterans out there, including those posting here and especially to those who lost their lives or are disabled while in service.

Gary McCullough 5 years, 9 months ago

Marine personnel are routinely assigned to U.S. Navy vessels. I was assigned to the U.S.S. Forrestal for two of my four year commitment to the Marine Corps. I was promoted from Lance Corporal, to Corporal, and then Sgt during that time.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 8 months ago

Gary, that's true for the larger ships like the USS Forrestal. But you don't see Marines assigned to destroyers, including the DDG, unless that has changed since my Navy days. The Forrestal, as you know, is a supercarrier with a complement of 5,560 people onboard. The Chafee is a DDG with a total of 350 people onboard. So you are correct about the larger ships but I don't think the same applies to the smaller ships... again, unless it has changed since my Navy days, which ended in 1977.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

They should be cautions about taking pictures. A Navy machinist, Kristian Saucier, took photos inside a submarine was sentenced to a year in prison, $100 fine, six months home confinement, 100 hours of community service and a ban on owning guns.

Matt Tait 5 years, 9 months ago

They briefed us on when and where we could take pictures and we continued to check with whomever possible whenever we felt like shooting pics or getting video. I was actually surprised by how accommodating they were to our requests to take photos. There were a couple of areas that we were not allowed to film or shoot, but far fewer than I expected. Cool stuff.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

What a great and special experience for everyone. Hope Sexton has a chance to see the photos before his decision tomorrow. You don't see Alabama basketball at any events like this.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 8 months ago

Matt, it's a shame you didn't get a chance for a couple days of "boat ride." It's a truly awesome experience when you are out of sight of land. And, especially, at night when you sit on the fantail and watch the phosphorescent balls shining in the ship's wake. And the stars overhead... on and on and on.

Jay Scott 5 years, 9 months ago

Saucier should have shared these pics and thousands of classified documents over a specially built personal server. Then it wouldn't have had any consequences.....

Gary McCullough 5 years, 9 months ago

The Captain of the ship does not "drive" the ship, he commands it. Someone below him carries out his orders.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that the CO, Commanding Officer, is always called 'The Captain' regardless of rank.

Kit Duncan 5 years, 9 months ago

"Captain" is a title, whereas the officer commanding may be less than a Captain in grade. Depending on the class of vessel, a Captain might even be a Chief petty officer. Most Navy ships of the line (warships and auxiliaries) are commanded by Commander and above. Aircraft carriers are commanded by Captains.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 9 months ago

God bless all those who are serving and have served in our armed forces. They are true heroes and patriots.

Glen Darge 5 years, 9 months ago

I have watched college sports for over 35 years. The last 10 years or so it has been a battle to watch anything like college sports because the big cable companies along with cox and ATT & ATT-Uverse & ESPN & now Netflix keep playing games figuering out ways to cheat the low income viewers. I am living on a earned retirement that is fast being eaten up by todays living expenses. With the medical department taking the biggest bite out of my budget. Now because I cannot afford cable tv. The cable companies have declared college sports, the A&E channel,the National Geographic channel, the History channel along with ESPN are now premium channels. If I were to accept signing up for these channels the cost would be $78.00 a month for the first year and we all know that cost would only keep going up each and every year. So if the cable companies can deny me the pleasure of watching college basketball and the other channels mentioned. They do not need my hard earned retirement money. I'll simply pull the plug on netflix and apple tv. And then they all can just kiss my white A-- where the sun doesn't shine. Someday I hope they get what is long overdue to them.

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