ABOARD USS CHOSIN -- During the Middle Ages, the mythical dragon, with its speed, cunning and deadly strength, was believed to be the world's most powerful creature. It could be a valuable ally or a lethal enemy. Today there is a new dragon on the prowl. Its existence and powers, however, are unmistakenly real -- pity to those who upset the dragon.
The Navy guided missile cruiser USS Chosin, known to its crew as the "War Dragon," is currently patrolling the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Although it steams silently, hostile countries in the region know all too well that there is a deadly serpent lurking somewhere off their coast.
The strength of the 9,600-ton war dragon comes from Sailors like Philadelphia's William 0. Forshey IV, the 22-year-old son of William O. Forshey III of Philadelphia.
Navy Petty Qfficer 3rd Class Forshey and the rest of the Chosin's crew are enforcinq U.N. sanctions against Iraq that stemmed from the Gulf War. He takes his job very seriously and understands the importance of deploying naval forces to the Gulf.
"I think it's important to deploy to the Middle East and keep an eye out in the area, at least until things stabilize out here," said Forshey.
While the Chosin continues to seek out renegade merchant ships attempting to ignore the U.N. sanctions, Forshey and the crew recently had the opportunity to participate in "Exercise Initial Link '97." The joint tactical exercise involved military units from Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Forshey, a sonar technician who maintains, operates and repairs underwater listening equipment, knows that to keep the talons of the ship's warfighting skills razor sharp, training with allied nations in the Middle East is a must.
"This type of training enables us to operate smoothly with each other in case we ever need to work in conjunction to preserve peace," said Forshey.
The Chosin is capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots and manned by a crew of 420 officers and Sailors. The 570-foot cruiser, which can work alone or as part of a battle group, possesses an impressive array of radar, high-tech electronic equipment and weapons systems capable of confronting any airborne, surface or sub-surface adversary.
Forshey, and the other Sailors aboard Chosin know their jobs are critical to the success of the war dragon's mission.
"A sonar technician's job is important for the ship's undersea warfare mission. I utilize our sonar's resources to carry out that mission," said Forshey.
Despite the long hours of standing guard in the Arabian Gulf, Forshey has kept a positive attitude about the six-month overseas deployment.
"I had a great time in Sydney, Australia and the United Arab Emirates were interesting. The cruise was okay, it was extremely hot," said Forshey, a three-year Navy veteran.
Despite the long distance from home, Forshey keeps the lines of communication to friends and family open.
"I keep in contact with friends and family mostly through mail, with an occasional phone call while in port. Now that we have E-mail capabilities, I can send and receive messages much faster than normal mail," said Forshey.
Chosin is scheduled to return to its home port in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii this fall.