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6:00 a.m. — We arrive at the Nimitz Gate outside Naval Station Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Here we meet with our Naval escorts. Jon Yoshishige is our civilian liaison and leads the way through the main gate security and to the docks where large American battleships are ready to send off.
6:15 a.m. — We have begun to unload our 15 cases of gear and carry it up the gangplank onto the cruiser, the USS Lake Erie. We are immediately greeted by Command Master Chief Herbert Ellis, a strict disciplinarian with a mischievous smile. The stocky, yet fit, enlisted leader has the men and women of this cruiser jumping. His mere presence on deck seems to send these 20-somethings into another gear of workmanship. As the crew hustles to get the ship ready to go, we carry on our last case. A gray hue hangs over the sky and light rain splatters our clothes. It dries within seconds because the wind blows constant and the air has a tropical warmth.
Within minutes of getting our gear on deck, Captain Hendrickson and his Executive Officer Mark Olson come and extend a welcome aboard gesture. Like the Master Chief, both men have an extensive and impressive naval background. The captain is an avid hiker who recently returned from the Big Islands' Kilauea Volcano. Olson has been awarded the bronze star and takes over command when the captain is away. This is actually our second meeting with the captain, the master chief and their crew, but unlike last December when we covered this important missile launch, we will be onboard for the action.
8:15 a.m. — We pull away from the dock and head toward the mouth of Pearl Harbor. We are not yet leaving, just making a quick stop at the munitions dock to get our missile and some other ammo. Our trip aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG70) is an exclusive report, not yet afforded to any other news crew of any type in the world, and trust me, the world is watching.
8:20 a.m. — Off to our starboard side we see the Arizona Memorial. This is battleship row, where America was thrust into World War II, where so many men still rest in the tranquil waters of the harbor. The flag is at half-mast, the wind whips it to length and the area is peaceful. You can't help but feel patriotic and at the same time a bit sad when you see this site. It's an amazing opportunity to witness the Arizona from a billion dollar warship, built to help ensure that kind of surprise attack from the air will never happen to the Navy again.
8:30 a.m. — We are in the middle of a briefing with the officers of the ship and also representatives from all associated with this launch. Along for the ride with us are evaluators from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and various other U.S. agencies, among others. We are once again reminded about this mission and the strength and security it will eventually provide our country and our allies.
In layman's terms, this is how everything will go: Sometime on Thursday, a simulated ballistic intercontinental ballistic missile (in a real scenario, this would likely carry a warhead) will be launched from the island of Kauai. At the same time a military drone will be sent toward our ship. The crew and the technology of the Lake Erie will hopefully detect both launches and, in turn, shoot off two defensive missiles of our own and hopefully knock both incoming threats out of the sky. If successful, leaders around the world will take notice because for the first time in history a warship — an American warship — could be both offensive and now defensive. Obviously based on the water, the Lake Erie and other ships like it could be deployed to most corners of the globe and provide unmatched security for America and our allies.
9:30 a.m. — The $8 million SM3 missile is loaded to the bow of the ship — an SM2 has already been loaded into the launcher at the Erie's aft. A land-based crane gently raises the missile, which is inside a white square casing with a black cone on top. You can see the height of the SM3, but the shape is obscured by the protective outside. The crane gets it vertical and into position, it is then slid into the silo. Within the next two hours, torpedoes and harpoons are also on board and we are off and away.
As we leave Pearl Harbor back across the horizon the clouds have begun to clear. Dramatic rays of sun erupt through the gray as if coming from heaven itself. Diamond Head is in the distance and hotels along Waikiki seem to grow out of the turquoise water. The seas are choppy and the wind blows, periodically sprays from the salty Pacific blanket the edges of the deck. We are heading towards Kauai for the night and part of tomorrow. After a few more assignments we will head several hundred miles away and prepare to knock the threats out of the sky, this could be history in the making.
DAY TWO >>
Adam Housley joined FOX News Channel in 2001 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. Most recently, Housley reported from President Ford's funeral. He also reported from Nicaragua and El Salvador on the war against drugs and scored an exclusive interview with Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega. You can read his full bio here.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.