Special Report: Hurricane Maria

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Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Sept. 20, as a Category 4 storm with deadly flooding expected. The Defense Department had personnel and equipment already assisting authorities in the region that has seen two other powerful hurricanes, Irma and Jose, in recent weeks.

Coverage

Sept. 17

Sept. 19

Sept. 21

Northcom Providing Disaster Relief Following Hurricane Maria

U.S. Northern Command is fully engaged with federal, state and local mission partners as the command provides support to the response efforts for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Read more on Navy.mil.

Sept. 22

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico (Sept. 22, 2017) Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes (top left), Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), discusses joint operations in Puerto Rico with Army Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz (top right), Commander, 1st Mission Support Command. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Goff/Released)
GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico (Sept. 22, 2017) Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes (top left), Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), discusses joint operations in Puerto Rico with Army Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz (top right), Commander, 1st Mission Support Command. Kearsarge is assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Goff/Released)

Sept. 23

CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 23, 2017) 1st Sgt. Rafael Colon, a native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, and the senior enlisted advisor for the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, 261st Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., gets accountability of his soldiers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), in the Caribbean Sea. Members of the 602nd ASMC returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands to continue to assist with disaster relief operations in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Department of Defense conducts Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Alleea Oliver/Released)
CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 23, 2017) 1st Sgt. Rafael Colon, a native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, and the senior enlisted advisor for the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, 261st Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., gets accountability of his soldiers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), in the Caribbean Sea. Members of the 602nd ASMC returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands to continue to assist with disaster relief operations in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Department of Defense conducts Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations to assist civilian responders in saving lives, relieving human suffering and mitigating property damage in response to a catastrophic disaster. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Alleea Oliver/Released)

Sept. 24

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 24, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), exit U.S. Navy Landing Craft, Utility 1657 to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 24, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), exit U.S. Navy Landing Craft, Utility 1657 to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 24, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

Sept. 25

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing operations with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing operations with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), conduct route clearing with Navy Sailors and local civilians to assist in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) Sailors and Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), unload military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kearsarge and the 26th MEU are assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Eduardo Jorge/Released)
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Sept. 25, 2017) Sailors and Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), unload military field rations, known as MRE or meals, ready to eat, from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Kearsarge and the 26th MEU are assisting with relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Eduardo Jorge/Released)

Sept. 26

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Marines, Navy corpsmen, and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), begin assessing medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital as part of the humanitarian effort for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Marines, Navy corpsmen, and Sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), begin assessing medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital as part of the humanitarian effort for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) Construction Mechanic 2nd Class John McConnell, center, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), talks with a civilian employee after repairing a Hima San Pablo Hospital generator during relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) Construction Mechanic 2nd Class John McConnell, center, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), talks with a civilian employee after repairing a Hima San Pablo Hospital generator during relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Navy Lt. Robert R. Bryson, left, a physician assistant with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), discusses medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital with its staff as part of relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)
CEIBA, Puerto Rico (Sept. 26, 2017) U.S. Navy Lt. Robert R. Bryson, left, a physician assistant with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), discusses medical and operational needs of Hima San Pablo Hospital with its staff as part of relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Maria in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 26, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally/Released)

Sept. 27

CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 27, 2017) A Sailor signals the take off of a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) in order to refuel during humanitarian relief efforts following the landfall of Hurricane Maria on the island of Dominica. The Department of Defense is supporting the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rawad Madanat/Released)


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U.S. Navy Sailors and assets are supporting federal, state and local authorities’ ongoing relief efforts …

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Special Report: Hurricane Maria

Tripoli: Then and Now

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By Capt. Kevin P. Meyers
Commanding officer, PCU Tripoli

Having just passed the 30-year mark of service to this great Navy, I have seen quite a bit of history and experienced many memorable events. There are moments which give you pause, due to their timelessness and their place in our Navy’s heritage. The christening of a ship, for me, is one of them.

I recently had the honor to attend the christening of the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Tripoli’s sponsor, Lynne Mabus, wife of our 75th Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, deftly shattered the bottle of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow. Those in attendance or who watched the video of the event know that was a “home run” swing if there ever was one.

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Sept. 16, 2017) Ship's sponsor Lynne Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the future amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) during the ship's christening ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli's prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries by Lance Davis/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (Sept. 16, 2017) Ship’s sponsor Lynne Mabus, smashes a bottle of sparkling wine against the bow of the future amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) during the ship’s christening ceremony. Also pictured, left to right, are Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.; Capt. Kevin Meyers, Tripoli’s prospective commanding officer; acting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Dee; Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias; and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Huntington Ingalls Industries by Lance Davis/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (May 1, 2017) The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. Tripoli incorporates an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced maintenance facilities, increased fuel capacity and additional storerooms to provide the fleet with a platform optimized for aviation capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (May 1, 2017) The future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is launched at Huntington Ingalls Industries. Tripoli was successfully launched after the dry-dock was flooded to allow it to float off for the first time. Tripoli incorporates an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced maintenance facilities, increased fuel capacity and additional storerooms to provide the fleet with a platform optimized for aviation capabilities. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The Sailor in me is filled with a range of emotions; I feel all at once humbled, proud and excited. I am humbled by the sheer magnitude of this 45,000-ton mighty warship, proud beyond measure to be her first commanding officer and lead this amazing crew, and excited at our future endeavors.

During time-honored traditions like a ship’s christening, the best way to appreciate what the future holds is to fully appreciate where the past has brought us.

As a student of history, the comments by Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter, 62nd superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, in his remarks at christening were enlightening. He spoke fondly of the Tripoli Monument, which now sits on the grounds of the Naval Academy.

For a bit of context, the ship’s name, Tripoli, harkens back to our nation’s first foreign conflict, the War with the Barbary Pirates. In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson dispatched ships instead of paying tribute and our nation’s flag was raised on foreign soil for the first time. The Marine Corps Hymn celebrates the bravery of our early Marines with the line “To the shores of Tripoli.” LHA-7, the future USS Tripoli, will be the third to bear the name.

The Tripoli Monument, I learned, is actually our nation’s oldest military monument. Carved in Livorno, Italy, in 1806 to honor the heroes of that war, it was brought to the United States aboard USS Constitution. Its first home was the Washington Navy Yard, where it sustained damage there during the War of 1812. It was then moved to the west front terrace of the U.S. Capitol, facing the National Mall in 1831, and stood there until 1860 when it was moved to the Naval Academy.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 15, 2017) The Tripoli Monument is pictured at the U.S. Naval Academy (U.S. Navy courtesy photo/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 15, 2017) The Tripoli Monument is pictured at the U.S. Naval Academy (U.S. Navy courtesy photo/Released)

As I reflect on the christening of LHA-7 Tripoli and the Tripoli monument, I find it an interesting juxtaposition. The monument—with its column, sculptures and mass of stone—resting stoically on the Naval Academy campus the last 157 years and the enormous mass of steel – Tripoli. The Tripoli Monument honors the brave men who fought our Nation’s first war centuries ago, I trust the Sailors and Marines who serve aboard Tripoli will continue to honor their forbearers. What a proud day for our Navy and our nation!


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Tripoli: Then and Now

Bull Halsey: Right Navy Leader at Right Time

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By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

PEARL HARBOR (Sept. 2, 2017) Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific delivers remarks at the Battleship Missouri Memorial. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin R. Pacheco)
PEARL HARBOR (Sept. 2, 2017) Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific delivers remarks at the Battleship Missouri Memorial. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin R. Pacheco)

On Sept. 2, I had the privilege of attending a ceremony on the battleship Missouri to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. The theme was “They Stood Tall, They Held the Line and They Set the Course to Peace,” and the focus was on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Among the reasons last week’s commemoration was special for me personally, I had the chance to meet and speak with World War II veterans and United States Marines – always an honor; I was invited to speak about the history, heritage and legacy associated with Guadalcanal; and did I mention we were aboard the “Mighty Mo,” Battleship Missouri Museum!

Back in 1945, USS Missouri (BB 63) hosted the signing ceremony for the end of the War in the Pacific. At the time, Missouri was flagship of Adm. William “Bull” Halsey.

Adm. Chester Nimitz and Adm. E. J. King handpicked Halsey to serve as the wartime commander of the South Pacific for a reason. They needed someone with his “very particular set of skills,” to quote Liam Neeson. They needed him Halsey to take command in the South Pacific, where, according to the historical record, other Navy leaders were overly cautious and risk averse.

Halsey took charge in the Solomons, where our Marines were in a bitter fight with Imperial Japanese forces. He gathered all available ships, ordered mechanics to work around the clock to repair ships and make them battle-read, maximized use of patrol torpedo boats (to great effect) and changed the maritime strategy from strictly defense to bold offense – willing to take cruisers and destroyers to engage with more powerful Imperial Japanese Navy battleships.

PEARL HARBOR (Sept. 2, 2017) Service members parade the colors aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin R. Pacheco)
PEARL HARBOR (Sept. 2, 2017) Service members parade the colors aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin R. Pacheco)

No wonder the United States Marine Corps loves him to this day. Marines defended Henderson Field and beat back enemy forces throughout late summer and early fall of 1942. Then, on Friday, Nov. 13, under Halsey’s orders, Adm. Daniel Callaghan led a fierce and deadly fight against the enemy in Sealark Channel off Guadalcanal.

In a close and thunderous gunfight, five American cruisers and eight destroyers went up against two enemy battleships, one cruiser and 14 destroyers. The result: brutal wounds, terrible damage and significant losses on both sides. Callaghan lost four ships and was himself killed, but Imperial Japan lost one battleship and two destroyers – their seeming invincibility was smashed.

Halsey was deeply saddened by the losses of his Sailors and ships. Nevertheless, he and Nimitz considered the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific one of the key turning points of the war.

The Battle of Guadalcanal would wage on for several more months, but the clear naval victories in November meant that our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen would continue rising to the challenge to advance up the “ladder” toward Japan. At Guadalcanal, they stood taller, they held the line and they set the course to peace.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 11, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) transits the Pacific Ocean during a strait transit show of force exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 11, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) transits the Pacific Ocean during a strait transit show of force exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

Today, we have 10 homeported ships in Pearl Harbor ready to protect freedom, security, stability and prosperity in the Pacific, and one of those ships is namesake to the take-charge admiral who ensured victory at Guadalcanal. The guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey’s motto is a quote from Halsey, “Hit hard, hit fast, hit often.”

Like any of us, Adm. Bull Halsey was far from perfect. But in 1942, he was the right leader at the right place at the right time. If our call comes to “fight tonight” we will need bold leaders like Halsey who can inspire and lead warfighters. Semper Fi. Semper Fortis.

Editor’s note: Rear Adm. Brian Fort assumed command at Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Aug. 9. He was invited to speak to the community at the End of World War II ceremony aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial, which makes its home in Pearl Harbor.


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Bull Halsey: Right Navy Leader at Right Time

Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

After completing a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime theater security operations and flying missions supporting Operation Inherent Resolve over the skies of Iraq and Syria, the ships and squadrons of the USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group returned safely home.

Thousands of friends and family members lined the piers of Naval Station Norfolk to welcome home more than 6,000 strike group Sailors! More than 300 Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aircrew flew home to cheering, flag-waving crowds in Norfolk, Oceana, Mayport and Whidbey Island.

While deployed, CVW-8 and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) launched 11,437 sorties, completed 1,924 combat missions. With flawless execution the aviators successfully delivered 1,717 pieces of ordnance on target with devastating lethality. By the end of the deployment, our aviators logged an amazing 30,873 flight hours and 7,868 arrested landings. These impressive numbers set post-Desert Storm records for any CVN/CVW team.

This deployment is yet another example of the pivotal role naval aviation plays in our national defense. As the U.S. Navy’s ‘Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority’ states, we have the mission to “conduct PROMPT and SUSTAINED combat power from and at sea, necessary to fight and win decisively in contested and denied environments against our enemies.” That is exactly what the men and women of CVW-8 and the strike group accomplished on deployment. The team delivered a devastating blow to the capabilities of ISIS, allowing our partners on the battlefield to employ a strategic initiative to retake large swaths of land in Northern Iraq and Syria.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

I have written several blog posts about how our carriers benefit from the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). OFRP is designed to maximize our return on training and maintenance investments, to maintain Sailor quality of life and ensure units are fully employable and deployable. By the time the strike group deployed, it was at the peak of readiness and this was clearly demonstrated through their record-setting accomplishments.

With USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) now at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin her maintenance phase, the first phase of the four-part OFRP cycle, George H.W. Bush enters the post deployment portion of its sustainment phase to maintain her combat readiness in order to be prepared to deploy fully ready combat forces if required by our Nation.

While George H.W. Bush is in her sustainment phase, CVW-8 will also be in sustainment. For the air wing, this means several underway periods to maintain their carrier qualification requirements, maintain their aircraft at optimum performance levels and provide continuous training in combat flight operations and maintenance.

Meeting these standards will allow CVW-8 to effectively remain combat ready around the clock in the event the president of the United States decides they need to surge an additional carrier strike group.

This will be a challenge, but I have every confidence that the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group team will not only meet but also exceed our leadership’s standards and expectations.

Finally, I send my strongest congratulations to entire carrier strike group for your tireless efforts and commitment to the Navy’s standard of excellence. Bravo Zulu, well done and welcome home!

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)


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Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

Navy Comes to the Big Sky Country

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The first-ever Navy Week in Montana took place Aug. 14-20, coinciding with the Montana State Fair. Three cities, Billings, Bozeman and Helena, hosted events that drew thousands of local residents who interacted with Sailors who shared their knowledge, talent and professionalism.  Navy Weeks serve as our principal outreach effort into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence.  The program helps Americans understands that their Navy is deployed around the work, around the clock, ready to defense America at all times.


Rear Adm. Michael Holland, director of Maritime Headquarters at U.S. Pacific Fleet , meets with a Navy veteran at the Montana VA Medical Center during Montana Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Noble/Released)

Musician 2nd class Dan Webber, assigned to the U.S. Navy Band Northwest popular music group, Passage, performs at the St. John’s Summer Concert Series during Navy Week Montana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team perform at the Montana Fair during Navy Week Montana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Builder 1st Class William Anderson, left, assigned to the Naval Construction Training Center, speaks with Jon Arneson, host of the radio show “Voices of Montana,” during Navy Week Montana 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Lt. Anthony Snuck, assigned to the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team, interacts with local children during a community relations event at the Billings Montana Family YMCA as part of Navy Week Montana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Builder Second Class Clifford Simmons, assigned to Naval Construction Group (NCG) 2, studies the Wall That Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, during Navy Week Montana 2017. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mark Meredith/Released)

Lt. j.g. Jason Moyer, left, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3, teaches a local child how to maneuver an EOD robot during a community relations event at St. Vincent Hospital’s Pediatric Unit as part of Navy Week Montana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard perform at the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market during Navy Week Mont. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Lt. j.g. Jason Moyer, right, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3, teaches area children how to float at a community relations event at the Billings Montana Family YMCA during Navy Week Montana 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James Vazquez/Released)

Have you ever attended a Navy Week event ?


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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve …

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Navy Comes to the Big Sky Country

Your Navy Operating Forward – Philippine Sea, Coral Sea, Arabian Gulf

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


ARABIAN GULF: Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) Airman Hayden Ward directs an E-2D Hawkeye early warning and attach aircraft assigned to the “Bluetails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr/Released)

SANTA RITA, Guam: A Mark VI patrol boat assigned to Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1, Det. Guam, and operated by Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 2, pulls alongside the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) during a proof of concept exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)

PHILIPPINE SEA: A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) off the coast of Guam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: Explosive ordinance disposal personnel participate in a fast-rope exercise with an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, from the “Eightballers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Aug. 22, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr/Released)

CORAL SEA: Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 10, assigned to the Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, approaches the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during a certification exercise (CERTEX). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cosmo Walrath/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Eightballers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 prepares to deliver ordnance to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during a replenishment-at-sea in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Kinkead/Released)

THEOULE-SUR-MER, France: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) departs Theoule-sur-Mer, France. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) transits the Arabian Gulf while deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elesia K. Patten/Released)

CORAL SEA: Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1651 departs the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) to transfer personnel to shore during a certification exercise (CERTEX). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Alexandra Seeley/Released)

PHILIPPINE SEA: A MQ-8B Firescout unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: A Sailor checks the cockpit of an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 while an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Wolf Pack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 prepares to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leon Wong/Released)

CORAL SEA: Landing craft utility (LCU) 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during well deck operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeanette Mullinax/Released)

GUAM: Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 fast-rope from MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters assigned to the “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 at Naval Base Guam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Death Rattlers” of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323 prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elesia K. Patten/Released)

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Your Navy Operating Forward – Philippine Sea, Coral Sea, Arabian Gulf

First CVN to Complete an OFRP Cycle: Ike enters Norfolk Navy Shipyards for maintenance and modernization to start her second OFRP Cycle

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By Rear Admiral Bruce H. Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transited from Naval Station Norfolk to the Norfolk Naval Shipyards on Aug. 5 to begin her second Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) Maintenance Phase. Her first OFRP Sustainment Phase is now complete, and after much success supporting the fleet, the ship will now undergo maintenance and modernization.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 5, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Elizabeth River during the ship's transit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 5, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Elizabeth River during the ship’s transit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

What an amazing job Ike and her crew did during the second portion of her Sustainment Phase, which came directly on the heels of a combat deployment that lasted from June 1 to December 30, 2016. During her seven months of post deployment Sustainment Phase, Ike maintained its ability to deploy fully combat ready within 30 days or less. Twice during this period, the carrier was called upon to execute a Fleet Synthetic Exercise – Sustainment (FST-S) and an at-sea Sustainment Exercise (SUSTEX) that included an Integrated Live Fire (ILF) event. These two exercises demonstrated Ike’s ability to deploy and conduct integrated planning and execution of at-sea combat operations. To accomplish this, every department aboard the ship had to be at the top of their game and constantly maintain the highest standards of readiness for months on end.

As any Sailor can tell you, maintaining this level of readiness for an aircraft carrier, let alone an entire carrier strike group, is no easy task. Between seven underway periods to conduct carrier qualification requirements to ensure proficiency and train the next generation of aviators, as well as the integrated sea combat exercises, Ike CSG worked around the clock to stay proficient in the event they were needed by the National Command Authorities.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 9, 2017) Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Sasha Holcomb uses a needle gun to remove the deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Marques M. Franklin/Released)
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 9, 2017) Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Sasha Holcomb uses a needle gun to remove the deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Marques M. Franklin/Released)

In addition to training requirements, we also kept Ike maintained as if she was on deployment. This meant that any time there was an issue with equipment, we jumped on fixing it. We maintained manning levels at deployment levels and kept them there throughout the entire Sustainment Phase.

Now, with USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) scheduled to return from deployment on Aug. 21 and enter into the second half of her Sustainment Phase, Ike’s crew can now focus on the beginning of her second OFRP cycle – a six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) in which Sailors and shipyard workers will work together to upgrade systems and rehabilitate spaces throughout the ship.

The numerous accomplishments of Ike’s Sailors during all phases of her first OFRP cycle have illustrated that OFRP is making a critical difference in the Navy’s ability to generate highly trained and lethal combat forces to meet the threats of today, and the threats of the future.

As Ike begins her second OFRP cycle with her induction into the Maintenance Phase at Norfolk Naval Shipyards, we must ensure OFRP’s four functions of:

  1. Rotating the force
  2. Surging the force if required
  3. Maintaining and modernizing the force
  4. Resetting the force in stride such that the fleet remains operationally ready to respond to world events.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 27, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Perry (T-AKE 5) transit the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jessica L. Dowell/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 27, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Perry (T-AKE 5) transit the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jessica L. Dowell/Released)


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First CVN to Complete an OFRP Cycle: Ike enters Norfolk Navy Shipyards for maintenance and modernization to start her second OFRP Cycle

Faces of the Fleet: U.S. Naval Academy Plebe Parents’ Weekend

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Starting college can be tough on students as well as their parents. Now, imagine saying goodbye before six weeks of a fast-paced, boot camp-style orientation that begins four years of preparing U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen to become commissioned naval officers.

This past weekend, parents and friends of the incoming freshmen – known as plebes at the academy – saw each other for the first time during Plebe Parents’ Weekend. As you can see, parents and friends can be shocked to see how much their loved ones changed during Plebe Summer, which challenged the new midshipmen to develop leadership ability, motivation, moral courage, teamwork and physical strength.

Thousands of family members and friends filled the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 11, for Plebe Parents' Weekend. Plebe Parents' Weekend, August 10-13, provided an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes (freshmen) after an intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer training that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at USNA. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Thousands of family members and friends filled the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 11, for Plebe Parents' Weekend. Plebe Parents' Weekend, August 10-13, provided an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes (freshmen) after an intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer training that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at USNA. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Thousands of family members and friends filled the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 11, for Plebe Parents' Weekend. Plebe Parents' Weekend, August 10-13, provided an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes (freshmen) after an intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer training that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at USNA. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Thousands of family members and friends filled the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 11, for Plebe Parents' Weekend. Plebe Parents' Weekend, August 10-13, provided an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes (freshmen) after an intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer training that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at USNA. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Thousands of family members and friends filled the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 11, for Plebe Parents' Weekend. Plebe Parents' Weekend, August 10-13, provided an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes (freshmen) after an intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer training that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at USNA. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Thousands of family members and friends filled the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, Aug. 11, for Plebe Parents' Weekend. Plebe Parents' Weekend, August 10-13, provided an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes (freshmen) after an intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer training that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at USNA. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 


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Faces of the Fleet: U.S. Naval Academy Plebe Parents’ Weekend

Your Navy Operating Forward – Sydney, Matsu Bay, Coral Sea

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Right now your Navy is 100 percent on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training off the coast of Spain or forward deployed to the Arabian Gulf, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.


SYDNEY, Australia: The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) departs Sydney, Australia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy Graham/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: Master Sgt. Jay Alvarez, left, and Lance Cpl. Bryce Gibbs move ordnance aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Kinkead/Released)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) transits the Mediterranean Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Gaither/Released)

CORAL SEA: Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 21, assigned to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, approaches the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during Talisman Saber 17. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Sykes/Released)

MUTSU BAY, Japan: Mineman 1st Class Zachary Abel deploys a AN/SLQ-48 Mine Neutralization Vehicle during the 2JA 2017 Mine Countermeasures Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William McCann/Released)

ARABIAN GULF: An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) while another Super Hornet from the “Black Knights” and an EA-18G Growler from the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 prepare to launch, July 29, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr/Released)

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By Rear Adm. Roy Kelley Director, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Fleet Integration Office As the …

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Your Navy Operating Forward – Sydney, Matsu Bay, Coral Sea

SECNAV Spencer’s Message to the Navy and Marine Corps Team

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On Aug. 3, 2017, Richard V. Spencer, a native of Connecticut, was sworn in as the 76th secretary of the Navy. The following is his opening statement:

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer

Sailors, Marines and civilian teammates,

It is with great excitement and humility that I take on the role of your 76th Secretary of the Navy. The excitement is born from the challenges and opportunities that we face now and in the near future.

Due to your consistent ability to successfully deliver on all demands put before you, there is a commensurate level of expectation for more of the same going forward. Therein lies the challenge we face and prudency says we should expect that challenge to grow as the threats around the world continue to increase.

Within every challenge lies opportunity and I urge everyone to adopt that point of view. Every member involved in the Navy-Marine Corps team has the opportunity to make a contribution towards a more effective, versatile, resilient and lethal organization.

You, as a member of this team, will have access to a wide range of resources. Those resources must be applied in the most impactful manner possible in order to enhance our ability to deliver when called to fight. I look to each of you to seize the opportunity and contribute to enhancing the effort.

I am humbled to be in the position to lead an enterprise that is manned with such a stunning amount of proven talent. Our Nation’s all volunteer force, and supporting teammates, are second to none. That is because of you.

I believe that the most valuable asset within an organization is the high-performing human component. We will work together to ensure we have the best, sustainable environment in order to continue our history of delivering when requested.

Make no mistake, we are facing a threat level that has not been witnessed for quite some time and urgency is the manner in which we must all act as the complexity of threats increase in size and scope. We must all be focused on the pointed end of the spear.

I eagerly look forward to working with you as we step out to face the challenges set before us and embrace the opportunities that lie within those challenges.

Editor’s note: Follow SECNAV Spencer on social media at Facebook.com/SECNAV76 and at Twitter.com/SECNAV76.


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SECNAV Spencer’s Message to the Navy and Marine Corps Team