“Away the SNOOPIE team, away!” Suddenly, a group of Sailors bolt through the passageways and clatter up ladderwells on their way to the top the ship’s island, known as vulture’s row.
The Ship’s Nautical or Otherwise Photographic and Interpretive Examination (SNOOPIE) team aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is composed of intelligence specialists (IS), mass communication specialists (MC), and a yeoman (YN) who are responsible for photographing, videotaping and recording on paper the actions of unidentified contacts within visual range.
“SNOOPIE team will be called away for anything from an unidentified ship or aircraft,
or just something of interest,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Michael Dorobiala, a member of the visual information (VI) cell, which is part of the SNOOPIE team. “Obviously the TAO [tactical action officer] has a lot of situational awareness in [the Combat Directional Center (CDC)], but all he is seeing in there is a radar track on a screen.”
The team is composed of a team leader, recorder, photographer, videographer and photography team leader. Operating from vulture’s row, these Sailors collect imagery to help the TAO and intelligence officer (IO) paint the entire tactical picture.
“Once we all get up there we have to let the IO know that the team is manned and ready, and if we have visual of the contact or not,” said Yeoman 2nd Class Robert Fields, the team leader for SNOOPIE. “At that point, I direct the ISs to write down their script.”
While the recorder logs the available data and writes a script, the photographer and videographer set up their gear and ready themselves to document the contact.
“Every time a contact is called away, our job is to get as much imagery out of the contact as we can,” said Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian Flood, one of the photography leads. “Whether it’s something that’s known, or something that’s not known, the photos we take are used for later analysis. So they want us to get as many angles of the contact as we can. We need to gather any imagery of its actions and the manner in which it’s interacting with us.”
SNOOPIE team imagery can be used to identify weaponry, if the weaponry is manned or unmanned, and radars and antennas along with any other activity that is in view topside, said Flood.
Since TR arrived in the Arabian Gulf, the team has seen a wide range of vessels, said Flood. He stressed the importance of accurate photography so new imagery can be compared to old photographs.
“All those [ships] can come up with new equipment at any time,” said Flood. “You can see the new technology of [the contacts]; see what their capabilities are. It’s important to know those capabilities because it defends our ship.”
On top of the images and video, the team provides basic information such as the number of contacts to even the temperature and wind speeds in the region.
Whether one contact is called away or five, Flood believes that every member of the team works hard to get where they need to be and is exceptionally well trained in what is expected of them.
“I think everyone both the ISs and the MCs do a fantastic job doing what they need to do to get this imagery and information,” said Flood. “We have less than five minutes to get up twelve flights of stairs, get their gear ready, and get on station and start shooting. The fact that everybody does this efficiently, quickly and to the best of their ability every time – it’s fantastic. It’s an amazing thing to see.”
Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.