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CHIPS Articles: The Aweigh Team; A SNOOPIE story

The Aweigh Team; A SNOOPIE story
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryre Arciaga - December 21, 2015
Arabian Sea (NNS) -- "This is the TAO, aweigh the SNOOPIE team! Aweigh!"

With a flash, Sailors rush toward the ladder wells in response to the blaring announcement on the 1MC. The sound of their boots clanking up the metal steps rises towards vultures row, and out of the hatch comes the Ship's Nautical or Otherwise Photographic Interpretation and Exploitation (SNOOPIE) team of the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

Alert and on watch, Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Kaitlyn Smiddy, a SNOOPIE team leader, from Castle Rock, Colorado, and the rest of the team scan the horizon for surface, air and sub-surface craft.

"It's our job to collect information on any vessels that we pass and report it to our chain of command, and they relay that information to 5th fleet," said Smiddy. "That's where we get our intelligence updates and tasking from. Then, when we see a vessel of interest, Kearsarge personnel can get tasked to board that vessel and search it."

As simple as it sounds, being on the SNOOPIE team is not always so.

"It can be pretty intense because SNOOPIE team is constantly on watch," said Smiddy. "We can be called away anytime. When they say, 'Aweigh the SNOOPIE team!' we go up and figure out what the vessel is and what it's capable of. It's our job to say, 'hey, this is the vessel's country of origin' and we specify what type of vessel, see if there's any weapons topside, or people."

While the Kearsarge SNOOPIE team hasn't worked together very long, they're motivated to become the best in the waterfront.

"As far as SNOOPIE team goes overall, we're green, but we're really proficient and really good at what we do overall," said Smiddy. "We're the best in the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), if not the fleet, which we take a lot of pride in. Because we work our butts off to make sure we are producing immaculate products, and to make the best we can in all of our tasks."

"We make sure that we represent our ship very well to give us a good reputation," said Smiddy. "Even though we've only been doing SNOOPIE for a couple months we're motivated and excited to do it."

Her team sings high praises of their growing leader.

"She's really, really good at what she does," said Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Devin Robertson, the assistant SNOOPIE team leader, from Lincoln, Nebraska. "She's done wonders with organizing who does what and picking out what they're good at. That really helps them to excel, and she's great at positive reinforcement. She really gives you the feeling of being a part of the team, and she's one of the few that you feel like you're encouraged to follow."

Smiddy does not take her job lightly but sees it as something much more important.

"SNOOPIE team is not a game and it is not something that's small," said Smiddy. "Collection of visual information is very important, not just in the ARG, but to the fleet and to the Navy. Even if it's the smallest piece of the puzzle it can give you a broader idea of what is going on in the world, or with certain countries and how they operate. So even though SNOOPIE team may be called every day, every single piece of it counts, whether it's training or the real thing, it is important."

Kearsarge is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

For more news from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd3/.

ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 4, 2015) Cpl. Douglass Valle (left), from Miami, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nickolas "Blu" Mendenhall, from Smithville, Texas, both assigned to the Air Combat Element (ACE) of the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), transport ordnance on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL; maritime security operations, and regional theater security cooperation efforts.  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ryre Arciaga
ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 4, 2015) Cpl. Douglass Valle (left), from Miami, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nickolas "Blu" Mendenhall, from Smithville, Texas, both assigned to the Air Combat Element (ACE) of the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), transport ordnance on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL; maritime security operations, and regional theater security cooperation efforts. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ryre Arciaga
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