Tag: Coast Guard

US releases request for proposal for Heavy Polar Icebreaker design and construction

A model icebreaker demonstrates its maneuverability during a test at the National Research Council of Canada’s facility in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Photo: US Navy

Collaborating under an Integrated Program Office (IPO), the US Navy and Coast Guard released a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the detail design and construction of a Heavy Polar Icebreaker (HPIB).

Released on October 19, the draft RFP is for one HPIB, with options for two additional HPIBs.

The USCG requires new heavy icebreakers to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.

The draft RFP is for comments, questions, and planning purposes and is provided as an advance notice to ease proposal lead time and assist teaming arrangements, if applicable.

Responses to the draft RFP are due Dec. 11 and will support release of the final RFP early next year.

The Coast Guard plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019.

Release of the draft RFP represents the IPO’s latest effort to refine requirements and reduce acquisition costs for the HPIB procurement. Earlier this year the USCG awarded five firm-fixed price contracts for early design studies and analysis and conducted model testing with the National Research Council of Canada and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division.

The contracting agency is the Naval Sea Systems Command.

 

Norway downselects Vard for coast guard vessel construction negotiations

Norwegian Navy photo of a Nordkapp-class vessel.

The Norwegian government announced it has selected Vard to continue talks for the construction of three new vessels for the Norwegian Coast Guard.

After the government announced their intent to acquire the three vessels in September 2016, three shipbuilders submitted their proposals.

The government has now chosen Vard over shipbuilders Kleven and Westcon Yards to continue negotiations. Should negotiations with Vard be unsuccessful, however, the government said it would continue talks with either Kleven or Westcon Yards.

If the negotiations are successful, according to the government’s timetable, the project should be tabled for approval by the Norwegian Parliament in 2018. Delivery of the first vessel would be in 2022.

The three new vessels to be built will replace the service’s aging Nordkapp-class offshore patrol vessels built in the 1980s.

Earlier this year, Vard received a four-year contract the maintenance of five Norwegian Coast Guard Nornen-class vessels.

 

US Coast Guard orders Saab’s phased array radar for Offshore Patrol Cutters

The US Navy has awarded Saab a contract to deliver its Sea Giraffe agile multi beam (AMB), multi-mode radar (MMR) for the US Coast Guard’s offshore Patrol Cutters.

The current contract is worth $16.8 million and contains options for further deliveries which could bring the overall contract value to $118.5 million.

Saab’s Sea Giraffe MMR, a 3D, electronically scanned phased array radar, provides high radiated power, selectable waveforms, and modern signal processing to consistently achieve high performance across various marine environments.

The initial order covers the procurement of two systems with options for additional radars.

In addition to the coast guard, the company’s AN/SPS-77 radar is currently deployed on the US Navy’s Independence-class littoral combat ship. A derivative of AN/SPS-77 known as AN/SPN-50, is being developed to meet the Air Traffic Control needs on aircraft carrier and amphibious assault class ships for the US Naval Air Systems Command.

Saab said the order would contribute new jobs to SDAS’ Sensor Systems facility in Syracuse, NY. In January, Saab signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with New York State aimed at expanding Saab’s presence in Central New York.

“This allows us to move forward on our Central New York growth strategy, and to expand our deliveries of Saab’s proven naval radar capabilities to these important US Navy and USCG customers”, Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab Defense and Security USA said.

 

Canadian Coast Guard science vessel almost completed at Seaspan

 

I recently toured the Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards where work is underway on the Canadian Coast Guard vessels. The yard has almost completed its work on the Canadian Coast Guard’s Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels. The first ship, Sir John Franklin, will be launched at the beginning of December.

A second, as yet unnamed offshore fisheries science vessel, will be launched in April 2018 and the final one in November of that year.

 

 

 

 

In a changing Arctic, a lone Coast Guard icebreaker maneuvers through ice and geopolitics

Ice floes surround the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Arctic Ocean

Coast Guard Ensign Ryan Carpenter peered north through a front window of this 420-foot-long ship, directing its bright-red hull through jagged chunks of ice hundreds of miles north of Alaska.

It was only the second time that Carpenter, 23, had driven the 16,400-ton USCGC Healy, one of the U.S. military’s two working polar icebreakers. He turned the ship slightly to the left in the sapphire-blue water, and a few seconds later, the ship’s bow rumbled through the crusty white ice floe at about 10 mph. Metallic shudders rippled throughout the vessel, a feeling that Arctic rookies often find unnerving.

Carpenter is part of an increasingly pointed U.S. strategy to prepare for competition — and possible conflict — in what was once a frosty no man’s land. The warming climate has created Arctic waterways that are growing freer of ice, and with China and Russia increasingly looking toward the region for resources, the United States is studying how many new icebreakers to build, whether to arm them with cruise missiles, and how to deal with more commercial traffic in an area that is still unpredictable and deadly.

Capt. Jason Hamilton, 43, sits in the captains chair on the bridge of the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy during a training cruise.

Adm. Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard commandant, recently warned that Russia and China are already encroaching on Arctic waters over the extended U.S. continental shelf. The region is about the size of Texas and rich with oil, minerals and other resources that could be extracted as technology improves.

Zukunft said last month in Washington that the situation in the Arctic could someday resemble the contentious disputes in the South China Sea, where China has built man-made islands and military installations over the objections of its neighbors. Russia already has made contested claims that stretch to the North Pole and possesses more than 25 icebreakers, with more on the way.

The next generations of Russian icebreakers aren’t being built just to transit polar ice but to fight in it. One kind of ship in the works, the 374-foot Project 23550-class, is designed to be nimble in this environment while carrying naval guns and cruise missiles. The Kremlin also has disclosed plans to build or expand numerous bases along the northeastern Russian coastline, north of the Arctic Circle, including on Wrangel Island, Kotelny Island and at Cape Schmidt.

Meanwhile, China also has arrived in the Arctic, sailing research and exploration vessels while arguing that no nation has sovereignty over these waters and the natural resources below. Chinese military officials have said that sovereignty disputes in the Arctic could require the use of force, according to an assessment written for the Naval War College Review.

The Obama administration proposed building new icebreakers in 2015, citing the warming seas and concerns about Russia’s intentions. But the effort to do so has gained new attention in recent months. Despite President Trump’s skepticism about climate change, he marveled at the power of polar icebreakers during a May 17 commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy and promised his administration will build “many of them.”

Zukunft said that a fleet comprising three new medium icebreakers and three heavy icebreakers would allow the service to retire its older ships and keep one icebreaker perpetually patrolling in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Healy was commissioned in 1999, but the other working polar icebreaker, the USCGC Polar Star, is more than 40 years old. It deploys each year to Antarctica, but crew members have resorted to searching eBay for some parts because they are so hard to find, according to Healy crew members familiar with the sister ship.

The cost of the new icebreakers is uncertain at this point. Estimates are often reported to be about $1 billion each because of the reinforced hull and robust engines needed to operate in ice, but Zukunft said he thinks it will be less. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published in July recommended that a single class of four heavy icebreakers be purchased in one block buy to save money and suggested that time is running out to do so.

“The nation is ill-equipped to protect its interests and maintain leadership in these regions and has fallen behind other Arctic nations, which have mobilized to expand their access to ice-covered regions,” the report said.

A Canadian CCG Bo 105 Helicopter on the Flight Deck of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (Credit: Jessica K Robertson, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

A Washington Post reporter and photographer sailed on the Healy from July 28 through Aug. 6, arriving on a Coast Guard helicopter off Alaska’s Cape Lisburne and departing on a small seacraft in the port of Nome, Alaska. In between, the ship meandered at least 230 miles northeast of Point Barrow, the northernmost point in the United States, before turning back.

The Healy, which travels annually to the Arctic, deployed this year on June 27 from its home port in Seattle with about 85 Coast Guardsmen and 40 scientists. It will make several trips to and from the Arctic Circle this summer, with stops in Alaskan port cities such as Seward to swap out scientists and gather supplies.

Arctic territorial claims by Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States

Missions on the Healy vary, based on what the scientists aboard need. On this trip, the ship carried members of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center as they tested unmanned boat systems among the ice floes, including an oil skimmer, a quadcopter and a 10-foot yellow vessel that was named the “Minion,” after the popular cartoon characters.

Scot Tripp, the chief civilian scientist on the mission, said that when he started coming to the Arctic in 2012, there was ice nearly all the way south to Alaska’s northern shores until June or July. That is no longer the case, prompting the service to evaluate what kind of new equipment it might need if a crisis emerges.

Scientists recovering ice samples in one of Healy’s small boats. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Bob Selby.

“There was no need for the Coast Guard to be up here,” Tripp said. “This was frozen, and now it’s not. So now there are waterways and cruise ships coming up, so you run into the possibility of disaster with one of those.”

Even with the warming climate, the Arctic environment is unforgiving. The summer water and air temperatures are about 30 degrees, and winds often howl at 30 to 40 mph. Coast Guard members work the decks in thick snowsuits, steel-toed boots and hard hats, and anyone leaving the Healy on a smaller seacraft used for exploration must wear a winter suit with a rubberized shell to extend how long they can survive if they fall in the water.

Officers piloting the Healy said that they do their best to avoid ice, but in areas where it is inevitable, it is considered safer to use the reinforced front of the ship to punch straight through it, rather than “shouldering it” and taking a glancing blow. Even then, sticky situations still emerge.

Ensign Taylor Peace, 23, who is on her second Arctic tour, said that last summer, the Healy spent four days wiggling out of an ice floe that wouldn’t let go of the ship.

“No one flipped out,” said Peace of Fairfax, Va. “You just keep trying. All you’re doing is waiting for the wind to change direction so it can relieve the pressure, or so you can at least make five inches in an hour.”

The harsh environment was on full display July 29, as the Healy carried out two consecutive missions on the water in a smaller sea craft. In the first, the Healy lowered a small landing craft carrying members of the scientific team to examine the usefulness of the Minion and other equipment as the drone boat bounced between craggy ice floes. The ­banana-yellow vessel, carrying solar panels and a camera, got stuck only after its battery died, prompting the crew to tow it back to the Healy.

“This is a good chance to try it in a harsh environment, coming out here to work these vehicles,” said Jason Story, a Coast Guard naval architect who designed the Minion.

Members of HEALY crew standing by on the mess deck during a damage control drill.

Winds picked up and fog thickened during the second mission of the day as divers marked a return to something that had not occurred in the Arctic since Aug. 17, 2006: Coast Guard ice diving. The long hiatus followed the deaths of two Healy crew members — Lt. Jessica Hill, 31, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Duque, 26 — during an ice dive that a service investigation found was poorly supervised.

The Coast Guard subsequently started its own ice-diving school and made diving a primary occupation, rather than a collateral duty. The divers can perform maintenance on the ship, assist other vessels that are in trouble or perform salvage operations involving ships that have sunk.

“When we deploy to the Arctic, there is no bench strength nearby,” said Capt. Greg Tlapa, the Healy’s commanding officer. “No one is coming to save us. So, the more self-sufficient you are in terms of underwater inspection and hull repair, the less risk there is to a deployment.”

On a bone-chilling afternoon, teams of two divers dove among the floes while a third diver sat ready in case his help was required. The sea craft was anchored to a hulking piece of ice on the ocean’s surface.
The divers marveled at the clearness of the water and the crystallized ice — about 85 percent of the sea ice floating in the Arctic is beneath the surface.

“It’s like diving in outer space,” said one of the divers, Chief Petty Officer Chuck Ashmore. “I think that’s the closest comparison I could make. You’re seeing some just incredible structures down there.”

Photos taken during the Arctic West Summer 2006 deployment aboard the CGC Healy.

 

 

 

Europe’s military maestros: Italy

Kabul, AFGHANISTAN: Italian soldiers of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stand guard near their base in Kabul, 21 May 2007. Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, who is on a one-day visit to Kabul, met with Italian troops and is expected to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta during his stay. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

The NATO member may not spend much on defense, but it’s nonetheless pulling a lot of the EU’s weight. It’s time we gave the Italian’s some respect. 

 

On the face of it, Italy is a woeful member of NATO, spending just 1.11 percent of GDP on defense — far below the alliance’s 2 percent benchmark. Only seven NATO countries spend less. But take a close look at the country’s contribution to European security and a rather different picture emerges.

Between January and June of this year, Italy’s coast guard rescued 21,540 migrants from 188 vessels, while the Italian navy brought 3,344 migrants to safety and its financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, saved nearly 400.

Add to that Italian troops serving on NATO and U.N. missions in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, as well as the country’s participation in Operation Sophia, an EU naval mission that has rescued 5,676 migrants since the beginning of the year, and it becomes clear that Italy has become Europe’s policeman.

“Yes, you can measure defense spending, but it can’t be the only metric,” said Stefano Stefanini, an Italian former ambassador to NATO. “In providing security, deployability and operations matter more than budgets.”

Italy’s coast guard conducts migrant rescue missions that often take its vessels far beyond waters normally considered coast guard territory. So does the Italian navy, even though search and rescue are not part of a navy’s normal tasks. The Guardia di Finanza’s mission is to intercept smugglers of drugs and money, not save asylum seekers.

But with people-smugglers callously overfilling their leaky vessels with people desperate to reach Italy, and with the Libyan government only now starting to assist, it would be unethical to do nothing. So the Italian armed forces rescue the migrants.

In the waters of the Mediterranean, human decency gives the Italians little choice. But their troops participate in many other missions from which Italy could reasonably ask to be excused. According to figures assembled by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), a Rome-based think tank, last year a total of 6,092 Italian troops served on international missions in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan. Some 600 Italians serve in Kosovo; another 1,100 in Lebanon. Italian troops are stationed in Libya and Somalia, too.

Counting Italian officers embedded with other countries’ armed forces, the figure exceeds 7,000. This year, another 140 Italians deployed to Latvia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence initiative. With deployment rotations — each foreign deployment position is typically filled by four service members in rotation — that means more than 28,000 Italian troops are involved in international operations.

“Today’s situation is more complicated than war or peace,” said a high-ranking official in the Italian Ministry of Defense. “We’re stabilizing an entire region.”

Last year, the international missions cost the Italian government more than €1 billion, according to IAI. And that doesn’t count the cost of the navy, coast guard and Guardia di Finanza search and rescue missions.

Soldiers inspect the deck of an abandoned boat in order to sink it, during an Italian Navy operation ‘Mare Nostrum’ in the Mediterran Sea, September 19, 2015 | Giuseppe Lami/EPA

But here’s the paradox: all of these efforts don’t show up in NATO statistics. As a result, a country such as Greece looks like a star member of the alliance thanks to its annual defense expenditure of 2.4 percent of GDP. Though Greece rescues migrants off its coasts, it is not participating in any current EU or NATO military missions.

NATO’s statistics measure how much a member spends on defense, how much is spent in personnel and how much on equipment. But they don’t show how much a country spends on NATO-related activities.

“In addition, some countries put everything they can into the defense budget in order to approach the 2 percent target,” said Stefanini. “But Italy doesn’t; in fact, it plays down what it does in defense for domestic policy reasons.” A large part of the Italian electorate supports the political left and would be unhappy with increased defense spending.

It’s high time Italy’s allies — particularly in the EU — recognize the country’s contributions to regional security.

Many countries are, in fact, getting away with doing close to nothing to shore up Europe’s south in the knowledge that the Italians will take care of it

To be sure, it is in Italy’s interest to stabilize not only the waters surrounding it but the countries too: another exodus of Kosovars would be difficult to handle, not to mention an even larger influx of asylum seekers travelling via Libya. Lebanon faces a potentially explosive situation involving, among other things, spillover from Syria.

But the issues to which Italy devotes manpower and resources — stability in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa — have implications that spread far beyond the country’s borders. And migration in particular has EU-wide consequences as few of those crossing the Mediterranean do so intending to stay in Italy.

“We’re trying to make allies aware of the threats coming from the southern flank,” said the Ministry of Defense official. “These threats are moving towards all of Europe.”

“No country can guarantee European security alone,” the official added.

Frontex, the EU’s external border agency, does conduct migrant response operations in the Mediterranean, and NATO’s Sea Guardian mission polices the sea. But so far most of Italy’s allies have been content to leave the country to bear the bulk of the southern flank responsibilities — and the costs of doing so.

Many countries are, in fact, getting away with doing close to nothing to shore up Europe’s south in the knowledge that the Italians will take care of it.

By Elisabeth Braw, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

 

U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Diving to Resume

ALAMEDA, Calif. — U.S. Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Navy Sailors conducted shipboard dive operations from a Coast Guard cutter in the Arctic July 29 for the first time since two Coast Guard divers perished in a subsurface accident almost 11 years ago, the Coast Guard said in a Aug. 10 release.

Shipboard Arctic dive operations increase the Coast Guard’s ability to assure year-round access for national security, sovereign presence and increased maritime domain awareness in the region. The shipboard dive operations also highlighted the interoperability between joint Coast Guard and Navy dive teams.

The Coast Guard conducted a comprehensive dive program review following a incident on Aug. 17, 2006, that killed Lt. Jessica Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Duque during an ice dive in the Arctic Ocean aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy. In the years following the accident, the Coast Guard improved diving proficiency and retention by making diving a primary duty and created the first three regional dive lockers to centralize control, training and operations.

The joint dive operation from Healy July 29 marked the culmination of this increased oversight, training and proficiency. The crew of Healy and joint dive team held a memorial to honor the fallen divers during the cutter’s current Arctic patrol.

“There is no prospect more sobering than the death of a crew member,” said Capt. Greg Tlapa, commanding officer of Healy. “We honor the memory of our shipmates, Lt. Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Duque, and will never forget their sacrifices. It gives our crew great pride to re-establish dive capabilities to Healy and meet the subsurface needs and challenges our service will face in the coming years in the Arctic.”

USCG Cutter Healy

The joint dive team included personnel from Coast Guard Regional Dive Lockers San Diego and Honolulu and U.S. Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Wash. Navy divers supported cold water and ice dives by providing an independent duty corpsman/dive medical technician and by conducting joint training using the Navy’s recompression chamber currently deployed aboard Healy.

“I’m humbled to be a part of such a historic operation, honoring our shipmates by reintroducing Coast Guard shipboard dive operations to the Arctic,” said Chief Petty Officer Chuck Ashmore from Coast Guard’s Joint Regional Dive Locker West in San Diego.

Divers are the Coast Guard’s primary resource for the service’s subsurface capabilities and perform a full spectrum of Coast Guard missions, including maintenance and repair to aids to navigation, underwater inspections and maintenance on icebreakers and other cutters, surveying critically endangered species habitats, assistance to marine casualty investigations and supporting search and rescue operations.

Healy, homeported in Seattle, is a 420-foot long medium icebreaker with extensive scientific capabilities and is the nation’s premier high-latitude research vessel. Healy’s missions include scientific support, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar regions.

 

 

GAO: Affordability of Cutters, Icebreakers a Concern

USCG Icebreaker Polar Star (WAGB-10)

The Coast Guard’s plans for modernizing its cutter fleet remain a concern to congressional auditors, who say that the service has yet to articulate how it will afford both its future Offshore Patrol Cutters and new Polar Icebreakers.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a July 25 report “Coast Guard Acquisitions: Limited Strategic Planning Efforts Pose Risk for Future Acquisitions,” noted, “Coast Guard officials stated that they are developing a 20-year Capital Investment Plan (CIP), but the timeframe for completion is unknown.”

The report notes that the Coast Guard is procuring its new Offshore Patrol Cutter “which is estimated to cost $12.1 billion through 2032.”

The report also said the service estimates a cost of approximately $75 million for a limited service life extension of its only operational polar icebreaker, Polar Star, and that the it intends to take delivery of the first new heavy icebreaker in 2023.

“This delivery schedule poses potential risk as the required acquisition documents may not be completed in time to award the contract in 2019, as currently scheduled,” the report said. “Further, in order to meet this accelerated schedule, the first polar icebreaker would need to be fully funded in fiscal year 2019 with a preliminary cost estimate of $1.15 billion, alongside the Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition.

“The Coast Guard has not articulated how it will prioritize its acquisition needs given its Offshore Patrol Cutter is expected to absorb half to two-thirds of its annual acquisition funding requests — based on recent funding history — starting in 2018,” the report said.

The Coast Guard selected Eastern Shipbuilding Group of Panama City, Fla., in September to build the Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), with an award of $110.3 million to complete the ship’s detailed design. Options for the construction of nine OPCs are available in the contract. Construction of the first OPC is scheduled to being next year. Delivery of the lead ship is planned for 2021. The Coast Guard plans to procure 25 OPCs.

Source: SEAPOWER.

2017 Service Members of the Year honored on Capitol Hill [VIDEO]

Every year, Military Times recognizes five exemplary service members during an award ceremony on Capitol Hill. This year, Sen. Joni Ernst, along with many congressional, military and community leaders, came together to honor them.

Military Times honored the 2017 Service Members of the Year Wednesday evening in a ceremony held at the Reserve

Officers Association on Capitol Hill.

Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Robert, was the proud recipient of Marine of the year.

Staff Sgt. (now Gunnery Sergeant) Daniel Robert Philadelphia, Pa. Job Title: Platoon Sergeant Roberts joined the Marine Corps because he wanted to do his part on the war on terror and to become a better man upon his retirement. What he enjoys most is the brotherhood and bond created while serving. (Official Marine Corps graphic by Cpl. Chi Nguyen/Released)

Read the full article: HERE

*With thanks to Military Times.

Semper Fi

 

U.S. Coast Guard moves one step closer to procuring six new polar-class icebreakers

The USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) is nearing the end of it’s service life

2KTUU, 30 June 2017

ANCHORAGE AK The U.S. Coast Guard is one step closer to procuring six polar-class icebreakers.

The Senate Armed Service Committee unanimously passed a provision authored by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan to procure the six polar-class icebreakers as part of the FY 18 National Defense Authorization Act.

Senator Sullivan writes, “I am hopeful that my provision and the larger NDAA will be considered by the full Senate in the near future.”

“The United States continues to be late to the game in the Arctic, as evidenced most clearly by our meager existing fleet of Coast Guard icebreakers capable of operating in this important region,” said Senator Sullivan.

Sullivan writes that the United States currently has two operational polar icebreakers, the heavy icebreaker Polar Star – which was commissioned in 1976 – and the medium-duty Healy – which was designed for scientific research.

In contrast, Russia has 41 governmental and privately owned conventional and nuclear icebreakers, with 11 additional icebreakers in development or planning, including three new nuclear-powered icebreakers to be completed by 2020.

Semper Paratus

 

Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson to Kick Off Warrior Games With Concert

Discus Throw
Army 1st Lt. Christopher Parks throws a discus during the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., June 16, 2016. The 2017 Warrior Games are scheduled to take place in Chicago, June 30-July 8, with an opening ceremony concert planned July 1. DoD photo by EJ Hersom.

U.S. Department of Defence, 10 June 2017

A star-studded concert featuring Grammy Award winning artists Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson will kick off the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games — the annual Paralympic-style competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans — at Soldier Field here July 1.

“The men and women that serve and protect this country on a daily basis allow the rest of us the freedoms we enjoy,” Shelton said. “I’m proud to be part of this event and root these heroes on to victory at this year’s Warrior Games.”

Credit: Brian To/WENN.com

Clarkson said she shares Shelton’s enthusiasm.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

“I can’t wait to perform this year at the Warrior Games! Any time we can all be a part of something that lifts up and shines a light on all of these heroes that are participating is an amazing moment! We need more of these moments,” she said. “These men and women have put their lives on the line for us and have overcome so much in the process of doing that! It will be a tremendous honor to perform for them and their families who have sacrificed so much!”

Comedian Jon Stewart is returning as master of ceremonies for this year’s event. “Last year the Warrior Games were so impactful that I couldn’t wait to participate again as the master of ceremonies for the 2017 Games,” he said. “This is a can’t-miss event for Chicago. Join me in celebrating our nation’s service members.”

Eight Adaptive Sports

The star-studded event will officially kick off the 2017 DoD Warrior Games, scheduled to begin June 30 and run through July 8. About 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command, as well as military forces from the United Kingdom and Australia. Athletes will participate in eight adaptive sports: archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball.

“Warrior Games showcases the resilience and triumph of these athletes after overcoming significant injuries and illnesses,” said Navy Capt. Brent Breining, director of the 2017 DoD Warrior Games. “Having artists like Blake and Kelly perform at our opening ceremony concert demonstrates their support and gratitude for our military service men and women, and encourages people to get out and show their support for these heroes.”

To purchase tickets for the DoD Warrior Games opening ceremony concert, click on the “Ticket” icon at the Warrior Games website.