Navy Clears All 6 Bomb Threats Called In To Hampton Roads Bases Wednesday

Norfolk Naval Station
U.S. Navy photo

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating a series of bomb threats called in against Norfolk and Virginia Beach bases throughout Wednesday that forced several evacuations and lockdowns and affected ships and pier operations while emergency crews fanned out in response, the Navy said.

The calls were deemed not credible and normal operations had resumed by mid-to-late afternoon at both bases, Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, said Beth Baker, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman.

It was not immediately clear if the threats, which came in six separate phone calls, were linked, if they came from the same location or how many people were involved.

“All we can say at this point is that NCIS is working to determine who placed the calls and to determine whether they are linked,” NCIS spokesman Ed Buice said in an email Wednesday. “It’s too early to go beyond that.”

The threats began with a 6 a.m. call to Naval Station Norfolk’s 911 line, base spokeswoman Kelly Wirfel said. While the threat didn’t specify a specific area of the base, piers were locked down while an explosive ordnance disposal unit searched a vehicle near Pier 14 – where the aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Harry S. Truman are moored – after a military dog detected something, she said.

Personnel on the Lincoln and Truman as well as several buildings and Piers 11 and 12, where the new aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS George Washington are located, were ordered to shelter in place before an all-clear was sounded just before 11 a.m.

Baker said the vehicle, a truck, and its owner were cleared and unrelated to the earlier threat.

While crews worked to address the threat at the Norfolk base, five others began to roll in a few miles away at Little Creek.

The first call came in at 9:20 a.m. against the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island. That was followed by a 9:55 a.m. threat made to the Admiral Joel T. Boone Branch Medical Clinic, which was evacuated but reopened following a search of the building.

About 10:30 a.m. another threat was called in against dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall, followed by another on the Personnel Support Detachment at 10:55.

The last threat came in at 1:11 p.m. against the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill, which also was targeted in another incident Monday when someone called around 2:30 p.m., threatened the ship and hung up, said Lt. Michael Hatfield, a spokesman for Expeditionary Strike Group 2. It was determined to be a prank call, Hatfield said.

Buice called the threats a “serious crime.”

Baker would not say if the bases would beef up security as a result of Wednesday’s threats.

“As a matter of policy, we don’t talk about what we do for security, but we do take the threats very seriously,” Baker said.

Wednesday’s threat also came just two days after the Norfolk base locked down its piers for several hours after watch standers reported seeing someone wearing scuba gear and goggles in the water near Pier 7. No diver was found and all ships were later cleared.

Jacqueline Bonivel of Williamsburg said her boyfriend is a sailor assigned to the Lincoln. The two exchanged text messages Wednesday morning. She said he told her the bomb scare made activity near the piers hectic, particularly after Monday’s incident kept crews stuck on ships for hours.

“Everyone’s nerves are a little on edge,” Bonivel said.

While area bases handle threats on occasion, neither Baker nor Mohr could recall recent cases in which so many were made in quick succession.

“This is outside the norm,” Mohr said.

In January, a man was arrested after a suspicious package was found at Gate 5 of the expeditionary base and the Norfolk-based amphibious assault ship USS Wasp was locked down for several hours in November 2015 after someone called in a bomb threat near where the ship was moored at Pier 11, according to Pilot archives.

NCIS is asking anyone with information to send an anonymous tip to 274637, or “CRIMES,” and type “NCIS” at the beginning of the message followed by as much detail as possible.


©2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.

The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.

Read More Show Less
Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."

That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.

When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

Read More Show Less

According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.

"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

Read More Show Less

If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.

The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

Read More Show Less

As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.

And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.

Read More Show Less