Category: Community

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly Remarks at D-Day Commemoration

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks on the Cleveland D-Day 75th Commemoration Event at  at League Park, June 6, 2019.

Good afternoon, everyone.  Mayor Jackson, General Dziedzeski, executives of the Cleveland Indians, distinguished guests and friends, and most importantly, our heroic and cherished veterans, thank you so much for the opportunity to be here on the grounds of this historic ballpark, in this great city, to reflect on what June 6th, 1944 means to all of us.

Before I begin, I ask that you indulge me for one moment as I shamelessly give a big shout out to the ship sponsor of the USS Cleveland. You know when John F. Kennedy visited France for the first time as president in 1961 his visit was largely upstaged by Jacqueline Kennedy, whose charm, grace and style dazzled a characteristically hard to impress French citizenry.

As the trip progressed, it became obvious that Mrs. Kennedy was the real attraction, so as they said their good-byes to return the United States President Kennedy made a very famous, self-deprecating comment. He said, “I will be forever be known as the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.”

So, on the occasion of this commemoration of one of the most daring and consequential endeavors in human history, I am very proud to say, “I am the man who accompanied Robyn Modly to Cleveland.”

As you all get to know her and the energy and grace she will put into the life of your ship, and it is your ship, I suspect you will be very glad that Secretary Spencer, my boss, in naming her the sponsor, recognized those qualities, too.

To the USS Cleveland Commissioning Committee, thanks so much for welcoming her with such open arms, but you need to understand one thing is that she really, really hates cold weather, so please consider that when you plan her visits to town. It will make a big difference. Trust me on that one.

To our World War II veterans, we don’t really know how to thank you today. We try year after year, but it is impossible for the gestures of our gratitude to meet the measure of your courage and your sacrifices. It is truly a blessing to see so many of you here today.

We can only imagine where you were 75 years ago. Some of you were in Normandy, some nearby, and some others in uniform in distant corners of the globe, in the fight, or exhausted from it, or about to get in it for the first time.

Here today can only imagine the sights from the cliffs of Normandy 75 years ago, the 1,213 naval combat ships, 4,126 landing ships and landing craft, 736 ancillary craft and 864 merchant vessels swarming the dark, cold, unforgiving blue water of the English Channel. Most significantly, as we look into your faces today, we can only imagine the faces of the 73,000 Americans who joined with you, along with another 83,000 troops from the UK and Canada, Poland and other countries in Europe, as they approached the coast of France.

We can close our eyes, but will never see how those faces changed as they witnessed the sands of Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, littered with trucks and ammunition, awash with bodies whose souls just departed this world in advance of a noble cause.

And whether yours was one of those faces in Normandy, or in any other theatre of war from 1941 to 1945, you understand. The specifics of each of your stories are varied, and colorful, and unique, and worth documenting and sharing with every single citizen of this country who is free because of it.

But what is important about those stories is that they bind you to each other as a generation called to service at a time when the outcome was far from preordained, and to others who came after you to serve our nation in conflicts that followed — many of whom are here today as well.

You are bound to each other through your shared experience, but you are bound to us through your sacrifice, and the sacrifice of those who never returned home with you.

We think of them, and honor them today, but it is you who tie us to them.

It is you who trained with them, joked with them, smoked with them, drank with them, cried with them, fought the enemy with them, faced their fears with them, prayed to God with them, and longed for home with them.

Thirty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan spoke to an assembly of your brothers on the cliffs of Point Du Hoc in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day.  Political analysts have used this speech to describe how brilliant it was “politically” because it tapped into a shared understanding of what Americans believed in their hearts, and their shared memories, about the sacrifices, and the reasons for the sacrifices, made by many of you, our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Airmen, and Marines on that day.

President Reagan spoke with the steep 100-foot cliffs framing the English Channel behind him, cliffs that Army Rangers had scaled between 7:10 and 7:40 am on the morning of June 6th. The Ranger force of 250 men used only ropes and ladders while withering machine gun fire and grenades rained down on them. After two days of fighting to secure the area in and around the Point, only 90 Rangers remained in the action — the rest were either killed or grievously wounded and taken out of the fight.

The Ranger monument that stands at the top of those cliffs served as a backdrop for the President’s speech. It is simple granite pillar that resembles a dagger driven deep into the ground at the very edge of land — a land that until those Rangers arrived had been separated from the free world of civilized nations by a despotic force with a maniacal vision for the future of mankind.

No more fitting symbol could have been constructed on those cliffs. It represents a first thrust into the heart of tyranny that had subsumed the continent of Europe — and by extension, through an Axis of enemies, throughout the entire world.

The Rangers at Point Du Hoc on D-Day 75 years ago secured the ground for this monument, but the dagger it represents was forged by all Americans, like so many in this city, who mobilized the nation’s industrial capacity and provided you with the weapons of war that were required for victory.

Cleveland’s contributions to this effort cannot be overstated. They were, in a word, pivotal, to the outcome of World War II.

Armed with the power of this nation’s industrial might, the Rangers at Point du Hoc 75 years ago today secured the cliffs and made possible this historic thrust into the cold heart of oppression.

But it was all of you, our beloved veterans, who drove that dagger into the ground with all of your might, and grit, and most importantly, your love for this country — and what is good about it.

I could never attempt to match President Reagan’s words about D-Day and the collective memories he evoked when he spoke them 35 years ago. Many have written that the speech itself was a political masterpiece that helped secure his reelection.

After watching the speech, many of his political rivals realized that the 1984 election was over — even though it was still many months away.

President Reagan’s words, however, had far more significance than their political value, and to judge them purely as such diminishes their power and authenticity.

The memory of Normandy that the President evoked was real, not fabricated. It tapped into a collective national consciousness in which moral clarity and pride in American sacrifice and achievement were unambiguous.

It is our responsibility to ensure that we never lose that shared memory as a nation, despite all the forces in the media, politics, and culture that would prefer, for their own purposes, that we focus on our historical flaws and divisions.

But we are especially blessed today here at League Park. Because our inspiration to elevate that shared memory above the noise of all that divisiveness that sometimes seems to engulf us is bright and visible. It shines through the examples of patriotism, bravery, and humility of those Veterans that are here with us.  Those for whom June 6th will always carry profound meaning — as it should for all of us.

For each of them, each of you, personifies a precious, shared memory of our country in its greatest hour.

Each of them have blessed so many families throughout the Cleveland area and this nation with the honor and dignity they brought home from distant and hostile places — places that they transformed to peaceful ones solely because they knew it was their duty to do so.

Each of them leads us back to a special place, of truly living our Founding values—a place where all of us as Americans, innately know we belong — and where we still yearn to be.

One of these great and humble heroes is on the stage with me today, Mr. Emory Crowder, whom Robyn and I had the pleasure of meeting here in Cleveland last year. Emory is 95-years young and a veteran of the Pacific theater in World War II.  He was a corpsman in the Marine Corps.

Emory stormed the beaches in Saipan and Tinian, and for his bravery and accomplishment of saving lives, he was rewarded with the opportunity to keep going and invade Okinawa. He never made it to Okinawa, as a Kamikaze pilot sank his ship and he was rescued from the cold Pacific Ocean after several hours of floating with some of shipmates in shark infested waters.

I invited Emory to join Robyn and me at the Messiah concert last year at the Naval Academy. After the concert, he was surrounded by young midshipmen who took pictures with him and thanked him for his service in the obligatory way most of us do.

In response to these midshipmen, all of whom were born well after one of the last vestiges of World War II, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, Emory just looked at them and said, “Thank you, I did it so that you could have THIS life.”

Today I ask that you all come to understand that this is what is good about this nation. This is the shared memory we should all embrace to resist the forces that seek to erode our confidence in our ideals and our principles. This is what you veterans remind us of every time we meet you.

Your service to this country, in this simple and modest way, has continued well beyond the time you served in uniform.  It has been your most precious gift to us as a citizenry.  You have shown us what is good and what is worth fighting for.  There is no greater inheritance you could have given us than this.

A few years ago, I had the chance to visit Normandy. I had never been there before and I really did not know what to expect. My family used to visit the beaches of North Carolina, and as a child, I remember looking out across the vast ocean from there standing with my father, who was born in Hungary and experienced the terror of war in Europe as Hungarians struggle to survive in the crossfire between Nazi coercion, and allied forces coming from both East and West. For my father, allied victory in the war gave him the opportunity to cross that body of water westward to the United States. It was a trip full of hope for a new future in a land unravaged by war.

For you, and so many others, the trip across the Atlantic was quite the opposite.

Standing on those Carolina beaches, amid their immense beauty, it is very hard to visualize what horrors and fears our troops, and many of you here today, must have felt as you approached the coast of France on June 6, 1944.

When I visited Normandy, I expected to see something different than what I saw.  Despite all that happened there, the tremendous loss of life, the devastation of buildings, and roads, and beaches, what survives today is simply and spectacularly beautiful. There is palpable reverence to the sacrifices made by so many in the defense of freedom, and a visible love for the United States as most homes in the small towns and villages fly French and American flags at the same height.

But the most stunningly beautiful place of all is the American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer.

It is remarkable in its sheer size and immaculate in its condition.  No words need to be spoken when visiting. It speaks for itself.

The rows of burials are marked by white marble headstones, 9,238 of which are Latin crosses and 150 of which are stars of David. The cemetery contains the graves of 45 pairs of brothers (30 of which buried side by side), a father and his son, an uncle and his nephew, two pairs of cousins, three generals, four chaplains, four civilians, four women, 147 African Americans and 20 Native Americans.

307 unknown soldiers are buried among the other service members. Their headstones read “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY A COMRADE IN ARMS KNOWN BUT TO GOD.”

These are your brothers and sisters in arms. No matter where you served, they served with you.

No one will ever know why God chose them to sacrifice it all on those battlefields 75 years ago — but perhaps it is because God wanted you to be ones who came home to be the gentle and humble reminders to the rest of us of what it means to be an American — and what it means to be GOOD.

CLEVELAND (June 6, 2019) Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly speaks to about 125 WWII veterans and guests during the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation 75th anniversary of D-Day commemoration at the Baseball Heritage Museum. Feller is a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and WWII veteran. Modly, a Cleveland native, is participating community events commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in defense of their nation during WWII. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Chief Brian Dietrick/Released)

 

Thank you for everything you have done so that we, to quote our friend Emory Crowder, “could live this life.” 

Emory and each of you here today remind me something my former boss Secretary Mattis said in responding to a particularly bad day in Afghanistan. On that day our troops made some targeting mistakes that led to the loss of innocent civilian lives and in response then General Mattis said, “We are not the perfect guys but we are the GOOD guys.” 

When we look at each of you here today, we know deep in our hearts that when the nation called, you believed this about yourselves, and you believed it about your country.

Now more than ever we also need to share in that same belief.

Now more than ever, we need to do everything we can to follow the example you have set to make sure, that we not only believe it, but this belief in ourselves is also the truth.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, himself half-American, rose in the House of Commons less than two months from D-Day, and spoke in defense of the Allies’ cause. He said:

“What is this miracle, for it is nothing less, that called men from the uttermost ends of the earth, some riding twenty days before they could reach their recruiting centres, some armies having to sail fourteen thousand miles across the seas before they reached the battlefield?

“You must look very deep into the heart of man, and then you will not find the answer unless you look with the eye of the spirit. Then it is that you learn that human beings are not dominated by material things, but by ideas for which they are willing to give their lives or their life’s work.”

Today we are incredibly honored to look into the bright eyes of your spirit, deep into the hearts of each of you, and find what eternal good rests inside there for all of us to embrace, and also to have this moment to thank you for sharing it with us and with the world you saved.

God Bless you.

Thank you so much for being here, and God Bless the current generation of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, whom we send into harm’s way every day to keep us safe, and free.

Go Tribe. Go Cavs. Go Browns. Go USS Cleveland. Go Navy. Go Air Force. Go Coast Guard.

And, of course, as always, as I am obligated by tradition to say, but with love, without any offense to any of our Army brothers and sisters, BEAT ARMY!

Thank you very much.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly Remarks at The Patuxent Partnership

Below are Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly’s remarks at The Patuxent Partnership, May 15, 2019 in St. Mary’s City, Maryland. Thank you, Bonnie, for that kind introduction. And thanks for inviting us here tonight. What a wonderful evening and event to recognize the leadership of this community of service. Some of you may know that Robyn and I live in Annapolis, and it has much the same feel as St. Mary’s, one of neighbors and friendship and support. We raised our four children there, who are now well embarked on their careers, and we think often of the wonderful, nurturing community they grew up in; that one day we may have to leave behind, and neither of us looks forward to that day. Last Sunday was of course Mother’s Day, and I can’t help but think of all the mothers here tonight – the capacity to raise daughters and sons who want to serve a cause greater than self, whether in or out of uniform, is something very dear to our American way of life. Many of you are part of the larger family of military and naval service, something of which Robyn and I are especially proud. Robyn and I met just before my last flight in the UH-1N Huey on board USS NASSAU. So we happened to miss the deployments and long separation while serving on the ship although Robyn may have wished for one or two deployments on occasion. And after leaving NASSAU, we settled in Colorado Springs, where I took a job as an assistant professor of political science at the U.S Air Force Academy. Teaching those cadets, especially during early morning classes, I would have to resort to some pretty creative and sometimes even devious means of capturing their attention. Maybe like many of you, in the late 1980s, I would try to stay awake past 11:30 pm to watch “Late Night with David Letterman.” But almost every night before teaching class, I would make sure to catch Dave’s “Top Ten” before I went to bed. Because there were many times, in those Top Ten lists, I would find something interesting to mention in class that related to whatever we were studying at the time. So when I thought the same about addressing you here tonight – I asked myself, what would make my Top Ten list today?

What would be in the Top Ten, say, of my concerns about our Navy and Marine Corps team and where we fit in the future international security environment.

Secretary Mattis was once asked, “What keeps you up at night?” He answered, “Nothing. I keep other people up at night.” I would have to say mine would not be quite so self-confident. I would probably answer, “Nothing, I am too tired to be kept up at night.” So my challenge tonight is not just to tell you what might keep me up at night, if anything could, but rather to talk about what will keep you awake during this speech. So, I will rely on my old tried and true David Letterman technique and give you a Top Ten list. Unfortunately, my list won’t be nearly as humorous as Letterman’s lists used to be, and there may not be many surprises, either, but you never know. If you asked me to give you this list on November 16th, 2017, the day before I was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for this job, I am pretty sure the list would be different. So it has been evolving over time and I will try to capsulize each one with just one word – in case you want to take notes on your napkin. But here goes… imagine the drum roll…. The Under Secretary of the Navy’s top ten words that if things kept me up at night it would be these 10 words: Number 10: 355 Number 9:  Speed Number 8:  Information Number 7:  Cost Number 6:  Audit Number 5: Education Number 4: Warriors Number 3: Adversaries Number 2: Time And…Number 1: Memories Now I am certain this last one may sound a bit perplexing to you. Memories? Memories of what? What I am referring to is our collective memories as a nation. The common understanding of what is good about this place and what makes it so unique in the history of civilization. In 1984 Ronald Reagan captured this idea on the cliffs of Point Du Hoc in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe by Allied Forces. Political analysts have used this speech to describe how brilliant it was “politically” because it tapped into a shared understanding of what Americans believed in their hearts, and their shared memories, about the sacrifices, and the reasons for the sacrifices, made by our brave soldiers, sailors and airman on that day. Reagan’s words were far more than political, however, and to judge them purely as such diminishes their power and authenticity. The memory of Normandy that President Reagan evoked was real, not fabricated, it tapped into a collective consciousness in which moral clarity and pride in American sacrifice and achievement were unambiguous.

So why is “memory” number one on the list of the things that would keep up at night if things actually kept me up at night? Because it keeps me up every waking hour with concern that we may be losing that shared memory as a nation, as powerful forces in the media, politics, academia, and nefarious foreign actors who are adept at manipulating all of these institutions, seek to create a new shared memory for Americans focused on our historical flaws, our past injustices, our cultural and racial differences, and our inability to secure an impossible utopian ideal for our society.

This year, I have the pleasure to meet Mr. Emory Crowder. Emory is a 95-year-old veteran of World War II. Emory was a corpsman in the Marine Corps. He stormed the beaches in Saipan and Tinian, and for his bravery, he was rewarded with the opportunity to invade Okinawa. He never made it, as his ship was sunk by a Kamikaze pilot and he was rescued from the cold Pacific Ocean a few hours later. I invited Emory to join Robyn and me at the Messiah concert in Annapolis this December. After the concert, he was surrounded by midshipmen who took pictures with him and thanked him for his service. In response to these midshipmen, all of whom were born well after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, Emory simply said, “Thank you, I did it so that you could have THIS life.” This is what is GOOD about this nation. This is the shared memory we should all embrace to resist the forces that seek to erode our confidence in our ideals and our principles.

To quote Secretary Mattis again, in responding to a particularly bad day in Afghanistan where our troops made some targeting mistakes that lead to the loss of innocent civilians, Secretary Mattis said, “We are not the perfect guys, but we are the GOOD guys.”

Now more than ever we need to believe this about ourselves. Now more than ever, we need to do everything we can to make sure this is also THE TRUTH. And if you need to be reminded why this is so important, let me give you one final example. I would like to tell you, as many of you may already know, about Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent. Leaders like Senior Chief Kent, and supporters like each of you, are what keeps America safe and free. We cannot ask people to defend this nation if we don’t believe the nation is good and worth defending. In my opinion, it is immoral to do so. We need to embrace fully, and nurture the shared memories of the past that reinforce this, not blindly, but with a renewed sense of belief that we can address our problems, and strive for a more perfect union each day — a union that is worthy of the sacrifices of people like Emory Crowder and Shannon Kent, and every other soul who puts his or her life in harm’s way to keep us safe — and free. Thank you for your service, may God bless you all, and may God continue to bless this nation. Go Navy, Go NAS Pax River, and of course, as always, BEAT ARMY.

Celebrating Oklahoma City Navy Week

Sailors from across the United States are in Oklahoma City, May 27-June 2, to show the Navy to the community. Oklahoma City Navy Week’s major highlights include senior Navy leadership; Sailors from locally assigned units such as Strategic Communications Wing (STRATCOMMWING); Sailors from the oldest warship afloat, USS Constitution; Navy Band Southwest performances; and the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron “Blue Angels,” that will perform at the Star Spangled Salute Air Show at Tinker Air Force Base. There is also a virtual reality experience provided by Navy Recruiting District Dallas, and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

During Oklahoma City Navy Week, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Greg Slavonic met with corporate, civic, education and government leaders in an effort to increase awareness of the Navy, its mission and the importance of the Navy to the people of Oklahoma City. He also penned the following article:

America’s Navy: The Navy our Nation Needs

Greg Slavonic

Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower & Reserve Affairs

Over the last decade, much of our attention has focused on military forces in the Middle East. America’s Navy has continued to be a global force critical to the security of our nation and our interests — no matter where they are.

Oklahoma City is the host city for “Oklahoma City Navy Week” May 27-June 2. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. With the challenges our country faces today, the Navy’s job is continually growing.

The importance of the Navy is nothing new to Oklahomans. Like all Americans, Oklahomans have a vested interest in a strong, global U.S. Navy. On any day, the Navy and Marine Corps might be called on to attack a terrorist camp, keep watch over a potential conflict, capture a pirate vessel, or deliver emergency relief anywhere in the world.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt presents a Navy Week proclamation to Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Gregory J. Slavonic. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)

The Navy is ideally suited for this kind of mission because it’s fast, agile and flexible. It can go anywhere on the ocean on short notice, and do all its work from water.

Our Navy is the military branch that fights on the water in ships, under the water in submarines, and over the water in planes that take off and land on Navy aircraft carriers. This capability is vital and gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests – anytime, anywhere.

Think 70-80-90:

  • Water covers about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.
  • About 80 percent of the world’s population lives near the ocean.
  • About 90 percent of all international trade travels by sea.

What happens on the water is critical to American security, preservation of American jobs, and peace worldwide. It is vital to national defense and our ability to protect our interests on, under and over the water.

Navy planes fly about half the aerial combat missions in Afghanistan.

Navy SEAL teams carry out special operations worldwide. In a humanitarian crisis, the Navy can provide supplies and hospital-quality medical care.

For these missions, the Navy requires courageous, highly trained men and women. Fortunately, that’s exactly who we have. More than 1,700 sailors are at Strategic Communications Wing ONE at Tinker Air Force Base, the NROTC Unit at University of Oklahoma, several JNROTC units and 600 Marines at Ft. Sill in Lawton. We have a submarine named USS Oklahoma City, surface ship named USS Tulsa, amphibious transport ship named to honor a fellow Oklahoman LT Richard McCool (Medal of Honor recipient), and a battleship named USS Oklahoma which was attacked and sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This is a Navy state.

Oklahoma City hosts Navy Week from May 27 to June 2. Sailors come to the city to share their stories, remember the importance of a fast, flexible force provided by sea power and the Navy. This way, the Navy protects America more than ever.

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 30, 2019) Master Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) teaches kids at Village Metro Library how to salute during Oklahoma City Navy Week Oklahoma City. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (May 28, 2019) The Navy Band Southwest Brass Quintet performs during a wreath laying ceremony at the Oklahoma City National Memorial during Navy Week Oklahoma City. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy Photo by Musician Second Class Nina Church/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 29, 2019) Naval Aircrewmen (Avionics) Amanda Whitworth volunteers with Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity during Oklahoma City Navy Week 2019. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)

 

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 28, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 725) meet with Scott Volk, a patient at Oklahoma City VA Medical Center during Oklahoma City Navy Week 2019. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 28, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) walk along the Oklahoma City Memorial following a wreath laying ceremony during Oklahoma City Navy Week. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (May 27, 2019) Navy Band Southwest holds a Memorial Day concert at Saint Joseph’s Old Cathedral during Oklahoma City Navy Week 2019. Navy Weeks are designed to raise awareness about the Navy in areas that do not have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Allen Michael McNair/Released)

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Happy 126th Birthday Chiefs – Chief On!

By Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith

In the beginning there was no birthday, no Mess, no initiation process. There were only Sailors, salty with experience and a deep conviction to bridge the gap between the vision their officers had and the Sailors who executed the mission. Recognizing a seam, Chief Petty Officers were created to provide the kind of pragmatic leadership and guidance that enlisted Sailors could understand and relate to, enabling our Navy to move forward as the operating environment began to evolve beyond the simple age of sail and traditional Sailor skills.

ROTA, Spain (March 11, 2019) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith speaks to Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Villegas/Released)
ROTA, Spain (March 11, 2019) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith speaks to Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sarah Villegas/Released)

Over the years our Mess has grown and adapted to both the operating environment of our vessels and the Sailors who choose our way of life. Over successive generations, our Sailors have become smarter, more fit and a better demographic representation of the Nation we serve. We began as the sole purveyors of experience, the ones you needed to hear from before tackling any complex deckplate evolution — the lessons of sweat and blood were “our” currency, our relevance, and we taught many a junior Sailor and many a junior Officer how to avoid the worst mistakes and safely navigate to mission success.

In turn, Chief Petty Officers have found greater opportunity, and a corresponding desire by the Navy to fold Chief Petty Officers into more complex roles of leadership and management. In 1958, the pay grades of E8 and E9 were created to specifically retain the talent and expertise that was deemed crucial to the future success of our Navy; less than a decade later, Master Chief Gunner’s Mate Del Black would become the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, signaling a level of leadership and Navy-wide involvement that just 30 years before could not possibly have been conceived of. Chief Petty Officers raised the bar, elevated the game and catapulted our Navy towards new and greater success.

Shortly before the USS Cole was attacked, she got underway for deployment with an entirely enlisted Bridge Watch Team — proving that crew’s mettle and ultimately enabling those who survived the initial attack to save their ship and their shipmates. We have enlisted performing in a myriad of ways that those “old salts” sitting around and sharing information in those famous photos from the late 1800s could never have imagined. And yet, as a Mess, our mission remains the same — bound genetically to our core responsibility within the Navy to primarily represent the equity of experience. Technical experts, knowledgeable and learned in the nuances of our trade, operators who guide both the young Sailors we are charged with preparing for combat, as well as those young Officers whose lead we will follow in combat.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 21, 2019) Senior Chief Damage Controlman Jeff Tobey, from Kittering, Maine, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), instructs Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Clayton Saving, from Carthage, Missouri, in the hangar bay during a main space fire drill. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Keypher Strombeck/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 21, 2019) Senior Chief Damage Controlman Jeff Tobey, from Kittering, Maine, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), instructs Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Clayton Saving, from Carthage, Missouri, in the hangar bay during a main space fire drill. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Keypher Strombeck/Released)

A special faith and trust has been reposed in us as we occupy this unique and unparalleled strata of leadership — other services and other nations have senior enlisted leaders, but the United States Navy Chief Petty Officers are cut from a different cloth, raised to perform in collegial fashion to stitch the disparate parts of our Navy together, to leverage the power of our Mess to make the Navy greater than the sum of our parts.

We should take the opportunity to reflect on where this latest year of growth and development has taken us, and as a Mess decide how to best calibrate and align ourselves to the true north of our forebearers — making those who sailed before us proud of the legacy of selfless, uncelebrating service they entrusted to us. Every day we walk aboard our ship, squadron, station or unit we should feel an unabated sense of urgency to prove our value and serve our Sailors, to realize our strengths, and then humbly yet confidently wield that influence and knowledge to prepare our Sailors for combat — and lead them to victory once it begins.

At the end of today, and at the end of every day, I would ask each of you — as I ask of myself — to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation on those expectations levied upon us. To ask, as in that penultimate moment of “Saving Private Ryan” — did I “earn this?”

Happy 126th Birthday Chiefs – Chief On!

The Naval Careers of America’s Six Sailor Presidents

From Naval History and Heritage Command

From 1961 to 1993, the Navy could boast veterans in the nation’s highest office, with the exception of Army veteran Ronald Reagan’s eight-year term of 1981 to 1989. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, James E. “Jimmy” Carter and George H.W. Bush all served their nation wearing Navy blue.

Interestingly of the presidents who served between 1961 and 1993, only Reagan held office for two full terms:

  • Ford, Carter and Bush were single-term presidents
  • Kennedy was assassinated after 1,000 days in office
  • Johnson was elected once and chose not to seek a second term after finishing Kennedy’s term for a total of five years, two months, and
  • While Nixon was elected twice, he served less than 18 months into his second term before resigning to avoid almost certain impeachment over his role in the Watergate scandal.

Of the six presidents with sea service, five have had ships named after them: Kennedy (aircraft carrier CVA-67 as well as CVN-79, Johnson (Zumwalt-class destroyer PCU DDG-1002), Ford (CVN 78), Carter (SSN 23), and Bush (CVN-77).

Nixon joins the remaining 20 presidents who have not had ships named after them. Our nation’s first president, for whom President’s Day was originally named, has a record-holding eight ships named Washington, with four between 1775 to 1776, one each in 1798 and 1814, followed by the ballistic nuclear submarine (SSBN 598), decommissioned in 1985, and aircraft carrier CVN-73 commissioned in 1992.

Abraham Lincoln pales in comparison with just three ships: a former German steamer turned transport ship (President Lincoln 1917 to 1918); one submarine (SSBN 602), decommissioned in 1981; and Nimitz-class supercarrier (CVN 72), commissioned in 1989.

The following are brief synopsis of each president’s naval career.

John F. KennedyJohn F. Kennedy (1961-1963) was appointed an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in October 1941. Initially, he was assigned to the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence before attending the Naval Reserve Officers Training School from July 27-Sept. 27, 1942. He then entered the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center in Rhode Island. Upon his graduation Dec. 2, Lt. j.g. Kennedy was assigned to the Motor Torpedo Squadron 4 as the commanding officer of PT-101. A month later, PT-101 and four other boats were ordered to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 14 based at Panama.

Seeking combat duty, Kennedy transferred Feb. 23 as a replacement officer to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 2, which was based at Tulagi Island in the Solomons. He took command of PT-109 April 23, 1943.

It was the night of Aug. 1, 1943, when PT-109, with Kennedy at the helm, was run over by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri, cutting the torpedo boat in two. At the impact, Kennedy was thrown into the cockpit where he landed on his back, injured prior to him joining the service.

As some of the survivors clung to pieces of the ship, Kennedy swam to the remaining crew members to bring them back to the floating remnant of PT-109. Two had died during the collision. Kennedy towed one injured crew members as he and the other survivors swam five hours to cover the distance of three miles to an island.

After swimming to Nauru Island, Kennedy and his executive officer found natives. Kennedy wrote a message on a coconut: “11 alive native knows posit & reef Nauru Island Kennedy.” The survivors were rescued by PT-157 on Aug. 8. In September, Kennedy went to Tulagi where he became the skipper of PT-59. In October 1943, Kennedy was promoted to lieutenant and the squadron moved to Vella Lavella.

Due to continued problems with his back, a doctor ordered Kennedy to leave PT-59 November 18, and he returned to the United States in early January 1944. Kennedy would spend much of the rest of his Navy career getting treatment for his back injury. He was released from all active duty and retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve on physical disability in March 1945.

Lyndon B. JohnsonLyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) had already earned his bachelor’s degree, worked as a school teacher and elected twice to Congress before being appointed as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 21, 1940, at age 32.

He reported for active duty Dec. 9, 1941, and was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. After training, he proceeded to Headquarters, Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California, for inspection duty in the Pacific.

While stationed in New Zealand and Australia, he worked as an observer of bomber missions in the South Pacific, for which he was later awarded the Army Silver Star Medal.

After President Roosevelt ordered all members of Congress in the Armed Forces to return to their legislative duties, Johnson was released from active duty under honorable conditions June 16, 1942.

In 1949 he was promoted to commander in the Naval Reserves.

Richard M. NixonRichard M. Nixon (1969-1974) joined the Navy at the age of 29 as a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 15, 1942. A lawyer, he had been working as an attorney for the Office of Emergency Management in Washington, D.C.

Following his appointment, Nixon began aviation indoctrination training at the Naval Training School, Naval Air Station in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. After completing the course in October 1942, he went to the Naval Reserve Aviation Base in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he served as aide to the executive officer until May 1943.

Looking for more excitement, Nixon volunteered for sea duty and reported to Commander, Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet where he was assigned as officer in charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command at Guadalcanal in the Solomons and later at Green Island. His unit prepared manifests and flight plans for C-47 operations and supervised the loading and unloading of the cargo aircraft.

For this service, he received a Letter of Commendation from the Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force for “meritorious and efficient performance of duty as Officer in Charge of the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Command…” Nixon was promoted to lieutenant Oct. 1, 1943.

From August through December 1944, Nixon was assigned to Fleet Air Wing 8 at Naval Air Station Alameda, California. Then he was transferred to the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C, through March 1945. His next assignment as a newly-promoted lieutenant commander was as the Bureau of Aeronautics Contracting Officer for Terminations in the Office of the Bureau of Aeronautics General Representative, Eastern District, headquartered in New York City. Nixon was released from active duty on March 10, 1946. He was promoted to commander in the Naval Reserve on June 1, 1953.

Gerald R. Ford

Gerald R. Ford (1974-1976) was preparing to open his law practice at Grand Rapids with a fellow Yale Law School classmate, but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed his plans. Rather than waiting to be drafted, Ford sought to join the Navy.

At age 29 with a law degree, Ford was commissioned as an ensign April 13, 1942. His first duty-station was to attend V-5 instructor school training at Annapolis. His background as a coach and trainer made him a good candidate for instructor in the Navy’s V-5 (aviation cadet) program.

After a month of training, Ford was assigned to the Navy Preflight School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he taught elementary seamanship, ordnance, gunnery, first aid and military drill. He also coached all nine sports that were offered, but mostly in swimming, boxing and football.

By the time he was assigned to USS Monterey (CVL 26) he had been promoted to lieutenant. While onboard, Ford served as the assistant navigator, athletic officer and anti-aircraft battery officer. The carrier helped secure Makin Island in the Gilberts and participated in carrier strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland in 1943. During the spring of 1944, Monterey supported landings at Kwajalein and Eniwetok and participated in carrier strikes in the Marianas, Western Carolines and North New Guiena, as well as the Battle of Philippine Sea. Aircraft from Monterey launched strikes against Wake Island, participated in strikes in the Philippines and Ryukus and supported the landings at Leyte and Mindoro.

Monterey escaped damage by the Japanese, but Mother Nature nearly took out both the ship and future president when Adm. William “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 38 sailed straight into Typhoon Cobra on Dec. 17-18, 1944. Three destroyers were lost along with 790 men, with another nine warships damaged and 100 planes lost either overboard or by explosion. Monterey was damaged by a fire that started when several of the ship’s aircraft tore loose from their cables and collided during the storm.

After Ford headed for his battle station on the bridge of the ship in the early morning of Dec. 18, the ship rolled 25 degrees, which caused Ford to lose his footing and slide toward the edge of the deck. The two-inch steel ridge around the edge of the carrier slowed him down enough so he could roll and twist into the catwalk below the deck. As he later stated: “I was lucky; I could have easily gone overboard.”

While Monterey underwent repairs at Bremerton, Washington, Ford was detached from the ship and sent to the Athletic Department of the Navy Pre-Flight School, St. Mary’s College, Calif., where he was assigned to the Athletic Department until April 1945. He was then assigned to the staff of the Naval Reserve Training Command, Naval Air Station, Glenview, Illinois, as the physical and military training officer, during which time he was promoted to lieutenant commander. He was released from active duty Feb. 23, 1946.

James Earle Carter

James Earle Carter (1976-1981) was the fifth consecutive president who had served in the Navy. He is the only president thus far to have graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. After completing the accelerated wartime program, he graduated June 5, 1946 with distinction and obtained his commission as ensign.

For his first duty station, Carter was stationed at Norfolk as radar and CIC officer on USS Wyoming (E-AG 17), an older battleship that had been converted into a floating laboratory for testing new electronics and gunnery equipment. After Wyoming was decommissioned, Carter became training and education officer on USS Mississippi (E-AG 128). After completing two years of surface ship duty, Carter chose to apply for submarine duty. Accepted, he began the six-month course at the U.S. Navy Submarine School, Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, from June 14 to Dec. 17, 1948.

Upon completion of the course, Carter reported Dec. 29 to USS Pomfret (SS 391) based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During a simulated war patrol, Carter served as communications officer, sonar officer, electronics officer, gunnery officer and supply officer. On March 9, he served as the approach officer for a simulated torpedo firing at target ships and scored a “hit.” Soon after Carter’s promotion to lieutenant junior grade on June 5, 1949, Pomfret was sent in July to San Diego where the submarine operated along the California coast.

Carter’s next assignment was as engineering officer for the precommissioning detail for USS K-1 (SSK 1), the first postwar submarine built. After K-1’s commissioning on Nov. 10, 1951, Carter served as executive officer, engineering officer, and electronics repair officer. During this tour he also qualified for command of a submarine.

When Adm. Hyman G. Rickover (then a captain) started his program to create nuclear powered submarines, Carter was interviewed and selected for the program by Rickover. Promoted to lieutenant, Carter was sent to the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, Division of Reactor Development in Schenectady, New York. He served a four-month TDY with the Naval Reactors Branch, U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, D.C., to assist “in the design and development of nuclear propulsion plants for naval vessels.”

As Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer for the nuclear power plant to be placed in USS Seawolf (SSN 575), one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power, his father died in July 1953. Carter resigned from the Navy to return to Georgia to manage the family interests. Carter was honorably discharged on Oct. 9, 1953, at Headquarters, Third Naval District in New York City.

George H.W. BushGeorge H.W. Bush (1989-1991) wanted to join the Navy right after Pearl Harbor, but he had to wait six months to graduate high school, enlisting on his 18th birthday June 12, 1942. Ten months later, having graduated pre-flight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bush was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve a few days shy of his 19th birthday, making him the youngest naval aviator at the time.

After more flight training, Bush was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) as photographic officer in September 1943. As part of Air Group 51, his squadron was based on USS San Jacinto (CVL 30) in the spring of 1944. San Jacinto was part of Task Force 58 that participated in operations against Marcus and Wake Islands in May, and then in the Marianas during June.

On June 19, the task force triumphed in one of the largest air battles of the war. During the return of his aircraft from the mission, Ens. Bush’s aircraft made a forced water landing. The crew was rescued, but the plane was lost in the explosion. On July 25, Ens. Bush and another pilot received credit for sinking a small cargo ship.

After Bush was promoted to lieutenant junior grade on Aug. 1, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. On Sept. 2, 1944, Bush piloted one of four aircraft from VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichi Jima. Encountering intense antiaircraft fire, Bush’s aircraft was hit and his engine caught on fire. He completed his mission and released the bombs over his target scoring several damaging hits.

With his engine on fire, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member on the TBM Avenger bailed out of the aircraft. However, the other man’s chute did not open and he fell to his death. While Bush anxiously waited four hours in his inflated raft, several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by submarine USS Finback (SS 230). During the month he remained on Finback, Bush participated in the rescue of other pilots. Bush returned to San Jacinto in November 1944 and participated in operations in the Philippines.

When San Jacinto returned to Guam, the squadron, which had suffered 50 percent casualties of its pilots, was replaced and sent to the United States. Throughout 1944, Bush had flown 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded San Jacinto.

Because of his valuable combat experience, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk and put in a training wing for new torpedo pilots. Later, he was assigned as a naval aviator in a new torpedo squadron, VT-153. With the surrender of Japan, he was honorably discharged in September 1945 and then entered Yale University.

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published Feb. 16, 2015, on Naval History and Heritage Command’s The Sextant.

Five Things to Know: Shared Pacific Umbilical of USS Missouri and USS Michael Monsoor

By Dave Werner
U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Navy will commission its newest Zumwalt-class destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), at 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST) at Naval Air Station North Island. A little further west in the Pacific, organizers are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63) in the waters of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Although separated by 75 years, there is little distance between what the two ships and their crews represent to a free and open Indo-Pacific today. Here are five reasons why it matters:

BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy's next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completed acceptance. The U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey reviewed the ship and its crew during a series of demonstrations both pier side and underway, evaluating the ship's construction and compliance with Navy specifications. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)
BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy’s next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completes acceptance. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)

 

1. America is a maritime nation, committed to generating and sustaining combat-ready naval forces.

It’s no secret that the Navy has turned its focus again to restoring readiness, increasing lethality and building capacity. Before WWII, planning for the Iowa-class battleships, including USS Missouri, began as early as 1938 and the ships were ordered a year or two later. As Germany and Japan became increasingly belligerent, American leaders recognized that its Navy and nation needed faster ships with greater armament to keep pace with competitors.

USS Missouri, the last battleship commissioned, joined the Pacific Fleet in 1944, where it screened U.S. aircraft carriers and conducted shore bombardment. Most famously, it became the symbol of the Allies’ victory as host to the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender in September 1945. Missouri went on to serve off Korea before being decommissioned in 1956. Reactivated in 1984, it supported Operation Earnest Will in 1988, and then Operation Desert Storm by firing 28 Tomahawk missiles and hundreds of its feared 16-inch shells to soften Iraqi defenses. Missouri was decommissioned for good in 1992. Ultimately, it was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association in Pearl Harbor in 1999, where it serves proudly today.

Even following the dawn of the aircraft carrier in WWII, the forethought and investment placed in the later battleships allowed for their reincarnations with advancing weaponry to kinetically and psychologically influence global affairs some 50 years later.

USS Michael Monsoor, too, has a weapons suite and configuration that hasn’t been fully tapped. Outfitted with a 21st century electrical plant, it can operate all of its systems and still produce enough electricity to power a small town. Its design provides extra capacity to accommodate future computing demands, weapons systems, radars and sensors. In its case, such inevitable installations should be without extensive redesign or impeding performance.

Not unlike USS Missouri, USS Michael Monsoor is a flagship for adaptive force packages – a combination of amphibious ships, littoral combat ships and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers used to promote sea control and project power ashore that extend maritime security across a range of threat environments. It can accommodate future operations with planning space and communications equipment, which allows for mission tailoring and targeting across and broad array of tasks from special operations to humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing the critical maritime missions of deterrence and power projection and creating battlespace complexity for adversaries with its abilities to operate both near to shore and in the open sea.

The time-tested advantage of such investments ensures the nation is ready should it be challenged – but sustaining such forces has an even greater benefit for nations beyond the U.S.

2. A stable, prosperous Pacific favors peace without war.

As the bloody war in the Pacific wound down quickly in 1945, the question before the U.S. Navy was what ship would host the signing of unconditional surrender. USS South Dakota (BB 57), as Adm. Nimitz’ flagship, was considered deserving given its length and success of service in the Pacific. USS West Virginia (BB 48) would have been the romantic favorite. It was sunk in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, but was repaired and returned to service, and was present in Tokyo Harbor Sept. 2, 1945. President Truman ultimately made the selection, USS Missouri.

Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)
Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)

 

USS Missouri was the flagship for Adm. Halsey and his Third Fleet, who served Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. There was also the practical consideration that its deck provided the greatest square-footage available to accommodate the witnesses of the signature. It didn’t hurt it was the namesake ship of “Show Me” state, from which President Truman hailed. In fact, his daughter was the ship’s sponsor. There was a more compelling consideration that’s often lost in the debate.

Missouri was about the next fight. It bristled with power and capabilities, and embodied American innovation and determination. The course was set for what would become known as the American Century, and it was its ship-of-state.

The nation – and the world – had learned the price of a hot war. Led by the United States, most countries wanted a return to normalcy. A Soviet superpower, however, was rising to coerce and threaten free-minded nations, and a Cold War was underway. Peace-through-strength became foundational thinking for decades. The American investment in its military was not insignificant, but it was cheap compared to the price paid in WWII.

USS Michael Monsoor typifies the naval investment the nation needs, and employs the same proven calculus. Zumwalt-class destroyers are among the most lethal and sophisticated destroyers ever built. They provide deterrence and forward presence by bridging today’s innovation with future technology. They maximize stealth, size, power and computing capacity – providing an array of weapons systems and cutting-edge technologies to fight forces in the air, on and under the sea, and on land.

Fielding credible, ready and present capability discourages competitor nations from miscalculating.

Maintaining peace benefits prosperity and stability, and is far superior to the alternative. But…

3. If called upon, the U.S. Navy will fight and win.

If peace were to fail, at 610 feet long and 80.7 feet wide, USS Michael Monsoor provides space to execute a wider array of surface, submarine and aviation missions and integrate emerging technologies. A core crew of 148 officers and enlisted personnel, the nearly 16,000-ton ship is powered by two Rolls-Royce main turbine generators capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots.

The Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions. It does all of this while maintaining its stealth – making this visually imposing ship difficult to find whether close to the shore or far out to sea. These warships possess stealth, size, power, survivability systems and computing capacity that provide the Navy with the ability to meet maritime missions at sea now, as well as incorporate new technologies to meet emerging security environments.

That can also improve lethality through increased range, deception, systems integration and data analysis from the various platforms, and unmanned aerial, surface and subsurface systems. The blending of such capabilities – offensive and defensive, and multi-domain – will provide the Navy with the sea power to fight decisively.

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released
SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released

 

The ship is able to operate in shallow, coastal waters, providing land-attack support to ground forces. Ability to seamlessly exchange data with other fleet assets, computing capability, customizable mission sets and rapid integration of maturing technologies, provides the force with a strategic advantage. It has ability to dominate at sea and ashore, now and – importantly – in the future.

In war, the WWII Pacific Fleet is legendary. Small units like USS Johnston (DD 557) and USS Wahoo (SS 238) punched well above their weight. Capital ships with names like Enterprise (CV 6), Hornet (CV 8) and Lexington (CV 2) demonstrated the might, creativity and commitment of a determined nation. And USS Missouri was among them.

The world’s largest fleet command encompassed 100 million square miles, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 200 ships/submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft and more than 130,000 Sailors and civilians. USS Michael Monsoor is the latest in a long line of warships, and will join today’s aircraft carriers, surface combatants and attack submarines in San Diego.

The industrial base and whole-of-government effort that produced these marvels is an advantage that enemies correctly feared before attacking the United States in WWII. There is another uniquely American advantage that revealed itself in WWII, born from a national consciousness that, in its core, fosters free thinking and self-determination.

4. Toughness: Then and now.

After nearly 75 years of relative peace and prosperity in the Pacific, toughness and battle-mindedness are re-emerging. Visitors are reminded why that matters gazing at the Ford Island waterfront in Pearl Harbor. There, the USS Missouri stands watch over the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial serves as the eternal tomb for 1,177 Sailors who lost their lives in the opening salvo of the nation’s WWII experience.

The two ships serve as the American bookends of WWII. The attack on Dec. 7 was a demoralizing gut-punch for the Pacific Fleet, and it serves as perpetual reminder of the commitment required. Sailors then proved they could take a hit, and tap all sources of strength and resilience to fight and win – even when things looked darkest. It required an innate courage.

The namesake crew of America’s newest ship embodies a more contemporary example. The ship is named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Petty Officer Michael Monsoor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006. He was positioned on a rooftop with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction of the enemy’s most likely avenue of approach. Monsoor was located closest to the egress route out of the sniper hide-sight watching for enemy activity through a tactical periscope over the parapet wall.

While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. Monsoor immediately leapt to his feet and yelled “grenade” to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation, and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.

The highly professional men and women serving aboard USS Michael Monsoor are typical of the Sailors on duty around the world today. The U.S. Navy is the world’s premier naval force in no small part because of the American Sailor.

5. For 75 years, America has demonstrated a credible and enduring commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As a Pacific nation, America’s Navy has sailed and remains committed to sail wherever international law allows to preserve longstanding ideals of fairness and stability. Once the fiercest of enemies, together the U.S. Navy and Japan have been and remain the strongest of allies, and work closely today.

EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)
EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)

As discussed in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and reinforced in the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0, China and Russia are deploying all elements of their national power to achieve their global ambitions. There are competing visions for the future of the Pacific, and naval leadership is working to mitigate the risks of miscalculations.

Since the end of WWII, nations have benefited by the open and free approach that allows each to thrive. The proverbial rising tide of prosperity necessitates safeguarding and sustaining the approach. The Pacific Fleet is determined to ensure it – peacefully or otherwise.

Editor’s notes: The commissioning ceremony can be watched on the Navy Live blog. The Jan. 26 ceremony is scheduled to begin 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST).

This blog was originally published Jan. 23 on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s The Sextant.

Five Things to Know: Shared Pacific Umbilical of USS Missouri and USS Michael Monsoor

By Dave Werner
U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Navy will commission its newest Zumwalt-class destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), at 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST) at Naval Air Station North Island. A little further west in the Pacific, organizers are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63) in the waters of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Although separated by 75 years, there is little distance between what the two ships and their crews represent to a free and open Indo-Pacific today. Here are five reasons why it matters:

BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy's next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completed acceptance. The U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey reviewed the ship and its crew during a series of demonstrations both pier side and underway, evaluating the ship's construction and compliance with Navy specifications. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)
BATH, Maine (Feb. 1, 2018) The Navy’s next generation destroyer, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), successfully completes acceptance. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works/Released)

 

1. America is a maritime nation, committed to generating and sustaining combat-ready naval forces.

It’s no secret that the Navy has turned its focus again to restoring readiness, increasing lethality and building capacity. Before WWII, planning for the Iowa-class battleships, including USS Missouri, began as early as 1938 and the ships were ordered a year or two later. As Germany and Japan became increasingly belligerent, American leaders recognized that its Navy and nation needed faster ships with greater armament to keep pace with competitors.

USS Missouri, the last battleship commissioned, joined the Pacific Fleet in 1944, where it screened U.S. aircraft carriers and conducted shore bombardment. Most famously, it became the symbol of the Allies’ victory as host to the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender in September 1945. Missouri went on to serve off Korea before being decommissioned in 1956. Reactivated in 1984, it supported Operation Earnest Will in 1988, and then Operation Desert Storm by firing 28 Tomahawk missiles and hundreds of its feared 16-inch shells to soften Iraqi defenses. Missouri was decommissioned for good in 1992. Ultimately, it was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association in Pearl Harbor in 1999, where it serves proudly today.

Even following the dawn of the aircraft carrier in WWII, the forethought and investment placed in the later battleships allowed for their reincarnations with advancing weaponry to kinetically and psychologically influence global affairs some 50 years later.

USS Michael Monsoor, too, has a weapons suite and configuration that hasn’t been fully tapped. Outfitted with a 21st century electrical plant, it can operate all of its systems and still produce enough electricity to power a small town. Its design provides extra capacity to accommodate future computing demands, weapons systems, radars and sensors. In its case, such inevitable installations should be without extensive redesign or impeding performance.

Not unlike USS Missouri, USS Michael Monsoor is a flagship for adaptive force packages – a combination of amphibious ships, littoral combat ships and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers used to promote sea control and project power ashore that extend maritime security across a range of threat environments. It can accommodate future operations with planning space and communications equipment, which allows for mission tailoring and targeting across and broad array of tasks from special operations to humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing the critical maritime missions of deterrence and power projection and creating battlespace complexity for adversaries with its abilities to operate both near to shore and in the open sea.

The time-tested advantage of such investments ensures the nation is ready should it be challenged – but sustaining such forces has an even greater benefit for nations beyond the U.S.

2. A stable, prosperous Pacific favors peace without war.

As the bloody war in the Pacific wound down quickly in 1945, the question before the U.S. Navy was what ship would host the signing of unconditional surrender. USS South Dakota (BB 57), as Adm. Nimitz’ flagship, was considered deserving given its length and success of service in the Pacific. USS West Virginia (BB 48) would have been the romantic favorite. It was sunk in Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, but was repaired and returned to service, and was present in Tokyo Harbor Sept. 2, 1945. President Truman ultimately made the selection, USS Missouri.

Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)
Surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)

 

USS Missouri was the flagship for Adm. Halsey and his Third Fleet, who served Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander, Allied Forces, Southwest Pacific Area. There was also the practical consideration that its deck provided the greatest square-footage available to accommodate the witnesses of the signature. It didn’t hurt it was the namesake ship of “Show Me” state, from which President Truman hailed. In fact, his daughter was the ship’s sponsor. There was a more compelling consideration that’s often lost in the debate.

Missouri was about the next fight. It bristled with power and capabilities, and embodied American innovation and determination. The course was set for what would become known as the American Century, and it was its ship-of-state.

The nation – and the world – had learned the price of a hot war. Led by the United States, most countries wanted a return to normalcy. A Soviet superpower, however, was rising to coerce and threaten free-minded nations, and a Cold War was underway. Peace-through-strength became foundational thinking for decades. The American investment in its military was not insignificant, but it was cheap compared to the price paid in WWII.

USS Michael Monsoor typifies the naval investment the nation needs, and employs the same proven calculus. Zumwalt-class destroyers are among the most lethal and sophisticated destroyers ever built. They provide deterrence and forward presence by bridging today’s innovation with future technology. They maximize stealth, size, power and computing capacity – providing an array of weapons systems and cutting-edge technologies to fight forces in the air, on and under the sea, and on land.

Fielding credible, ready and present capability discourages competitor nations from miscalculating.

Maintaining peace benefits prosperity and stability, and is far superior to the alternative. But…

3. If called upon, the U.S. Navy will fight and win.

If peace were to fail, at 610 feet long and 80.7 feet wide, USS Michael Monsoor provides space to execute a wider array of surface, submarine and aviation missions and integrate emerging technologies. A core crew of 148 officers and enlisted personnel, the nearly 16,000-ton ship is powered by two Rolls-Royce main turbine generators capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots.

The Zumwalt-class destroyer is capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions. It does all of this while maintaining its stealth – making this visually imposing ship difficult to find whether close to the shore or far out to sea. These warships possess stealth, size, power, survivability systems and computing capacity that provide the Navy with the ability to meet maritime missions at sea now, as well as incorporate new technologies to meet emerging security environments.

That can also improve lethality through increased range, deception, systems integration and data analysis from the various platforms, and unmanned aerial, surface and subsurface systems. The blending of such capabilities – offensive and defensive, and multi-domain – will provide the Navy with the sea power to fight decisively.

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released
SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released

 

The ship is able to operate in shallow, coastal waters, providing land-attack support to ground forces. Ability to seamlessly exchange data with other fleet assets, computing capability, customizable mission sets and rapid integration of maturing technologies, provides the force with a strategic advantage. It has ability to dominate at sea and ashore, now and – importantly – in the future.

In war, the WWII Pacific Fleet is legendary. Small units like USS Johnston (DD 557) and USS Wahoo (SS 238) punched well above their weight. Capital ships with names like Enterprise (CV 6), Hornet (CV 8) and Lexington (CV 2) demonstrated the might, creativity and commitment of a determined nation. And USS Missouri was among them.

The world’s largest fleet command encompassed 100 million square miles, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 200 ships/submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft and more than 130,000 Sailors and civilians. USS Michael Monsoor is the latest in a long line of warships, and will join today’s aircraft carriers, surface combatants and attack submarines in San Diego.

The industrial base and whole-of-government effort that produced these marvels is an advantage that enemies correctly feared before attacking the United States in WWII. There is another uniquely American advantage that revealed itself in WWII, born from a national consciousness that, in its core, fosters free thinking and self-determination.

4. Toughness: Then and now.

After nearly 75 years of relative peace and prosperity in the Pacific, toughness and battle-mindedness are re-emerging. Visitors are reminded why that matters gazing at the Ford Island waterfront in Pearl Harbor. There, the USS Missouri stands watch over the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial serves as the eternal tomb for 1,177 Sailors who lost their lives in the opening salvo of the nation’s WWII experience.

The two ships serve as the American bookends of WWII. The attack on Dec. 7 was a demoralizing gut-punch for the Pacific Fleet, and it serves as perpetual reminder of the commitment required. Sailors then proved they could take a hit, and tap all sources of strength and resilience to fight and win – even when things looked darkest. It required an innate courage.

The namesake crew of America’s newest ship embodies a more contemporary example. The ship is named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Petty Officer Michael Monsoor who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006. He was positioned on a rooftop with his automatic heavy machine gun in the direction of the enemy’s most likely avenue of approach. Monsoor was located closest to the egress route out of the sniper hide-sight watching for enemy activity through a tactical periscope over the parapet wall.

While vigilantly watching for enemy activity, an enemy fighter hurled a hand grenade onto the roof from an unseen location. The grenade hit him in the chest and bounced onto the deck. Monsoor immediately leapt to his feet and yelled “grenade” to alert his teammates of impending danger, but they could not evacuate the sniper hide-sight in time to escape harm. Without hesitation, and showing no regard for his own life, he threw himself onto the grenade, smothering it to protect his teammates who were lying in close proximity. The grenade detonated as he came down on top of it, mortally wounding him.

The highly professional men and women serving aboard USS Michael Monsoor are typical of the Sailors on duty around the world today. The U.S. Navy is the world’s premier naval force in no small part because of the American Sailor.

5. For 75 years, America has demonstrated a credible and enduring commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As a Pacific nation, America’s Navy has sailed and remains committed to sail wherever international law allows to preserve longstanding ideals of fairness and stability. Once the fiercest of enemies, together the U.S. Navy and Japan have been and remain the strongest of allies, and work closely today.

EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)
EAST CHINA SEA (Jan. 12, 2019) The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), left, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force amphibious transport dock ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), right, transit in formation during a cooperative deployment. Wasp, flagship of Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker/Released)

As discussed in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and reinforced in the Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0, China and Russia are deploying all elements of their national power to achieve their global ambitions. There are competing visions for the future of the Pacific, and naval leadership is working to mitigate the risks of miscalculations.

Since the end of WWII, nations have benefited by the open and free approach that allows each to thrive. The proverbial rising tide of prosperity necessitates safeguarding and sustaining the approach. The Pacific Fleet is determined to ensure it – peacefully or otherwise.

Editor’s notes: The commissioning ceremony can be watched on the Navy Live blog. The Jan. 26 ceremony is scheduled to begin 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST).

This blog was originally published Jan. 23 on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s The Sextant.

USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) Commissioning

Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the Jan. 26 commissioning of the Navy’s newest destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001).

Live video from Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California, where the ship will be homeported is scheduled to begin 1 p.m. (EST) / 10 a.m. (PST).

The second ship in the Zumwalt-class of destroyers, DDG-1001 is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael A. Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 29, 2006.

Read more about Monsoor’s action on All Hands Magazine.

“USS Michael Monsoor is one of the most capable warfighting assets our nation has to offer. This ship will provide independent forward presence and deterrence for decades to come and I am confident the crew will operate this vessel with the level of expertise, courage and strength needed to overcome any challenge.”
– Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer

Scott Peters, U.S. representative from California’s 52nd District, will deliver the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Sally Monsoor, Petty Officer Monsoor’s mother, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she will give the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released
SAN DIEGO (Dec. 7, 2018) The guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) transits San Diego Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jasen Moreno-Garcia/Released

 

The future USS Michael Monsoor includes new technologies and will serve as a multi-mission platform capable of operating as an integral part of naval, joint or combined maritime forces.

The Zumwalt-class fields a considerably larger flight deck and has capacity for two MH-60R and three VTUAVs to execute a wider array of surface, aviation, and undersea missions that deliver more manpower, firepower, and computing power to the fight. The future USS Michael Monsoor’s Vertical Launch System (VLS) features cells physically larger than similar cells on today’s ships, allowing this class to fire larger and more advanced land and anti-ship missiles in the future.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #USSMichaelMonsoor.

USS McCampbell Welcomes 2019

EAST CHINA SEA (Dec. 31, 2018) Ens. Lauren Larar of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) writes the New Year’s deck log entry underway. McCampbell is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Harris/Released)

At the time this blog is posted, most people in the United States are busy readying themselves for a well-deserved evening of revelry ringing in the New Year.

They are free to do so, in large part, because of our Sailors who protecting the homeland and preserving America’s strategic influence around the world.

Ens. Lauren Larar is one of them.

She’s serving aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85), which has already crossed into 2019 in the East China Sea. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer McCampbell is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region:

Steaming alone over waters no trouble,
McCAMPBELL is ready to fight on the double.
With lights burning brightly above on the mast,
All engines standard, 16 knots going fast.
We cut through the waters below deep and blue,
Our course is 200, degrees true.
Our position is in the sea to the east.
Our stomachs are full from the grand midrats feast.
1 alpha, 2 bravo are turning each shaft,
Alpha power units move rudders back aft.
Numbers . . .  and . . .  are the paralleled GTGs
Material Condition is Modified Z.
Computer assisted manual is the steering mode,
So we can maneuver per Rules of the Road.
CO’s in her chair, she’s up on the Bridge,
We’re still left of track, we’ll come right just a smidge.
TAO down in Combat, monitoring aircraft and chats,
And EOOW in Central, stay vigilant Hellcats!
The year that’s behind us was challenging, yes, indeed,
But Ready 85 will always succeed.
We’re mighty, we’re strong, we cannot be rattled
In the year that’s to come we’ll stay RELENTLESS IN BATTLE!

Editor’s note: Learn about the Navy’s tradition of the New Year’s Day Deck Log on Naval History and Heritage Command’s blog.

2018: A year of increased U.S. Navy lethality and capacity, strengthened alliances and partnerships, reforms

By Jason Kelly
Digital Media Engagement Manager, U.S. Navy Office of Information

As 2019 gets underway, we’re looking back at 2018 across our fleet with our year in pictures — snapshots of our U.S. Navy Sailors protecting the homeland and preserving America’s strategic influence around the world.

We couldn’t highlight everything that happened in 2018, but as you’ll see below, the year was filled with building a more lethal force, strengthening our alliances and attracting new partners, and reforming for greater performance and affordability to remain the most effective global maneuver force in the world.

In January, naval leaders, government officials and members of private industry gathered for the 30th Annual Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium in Crystal City, Virginia, to discuss innovative solutions for current and future surface warfare challenges.

Also looking toward the future, USS Anchorage (LPD 23) completed in January one of several test recovery operations of NASA’s Orion test article in 2018. The underway recovery tests are part of a U.S. government interagency effort to safely retrieve the Orion crew module, which is capable of carrying humans into deep space. With their main role of conducting amphibious operations, San Antonio-class ships — like USS Anchorage — have unique capabilities that make them an ideal partner to support NASA’s mission.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 21, 2018) Navy divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 attach an inflatable ring to NASA’s Orion test vehicle to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Natalie M. Byers/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 21, 2018) Navy divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 attach an inflatable ring to NASA’s Orion test vehicle to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Natalie M. Byers/Released)

 

Later in the month, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran visited the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) to get a firsthand look at surface warfare training. SWOS readies sea-bound warriors to serve on surface combatants as officers, enlisted engineers and enlisted navigation professionals to fulfill our mission to maintain global maritime superiority.

In February, the Department of the Navy submitted our long-range ship acquisition plan to Congress. The 30-Year Ship Acquisition Plan focused on meeting our baseline acquisition requirements needed to build the Navy the Nation needs and sustaining the domestic industrial base to meet that aim.

On Feb. 21, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) welcomed Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy. During his first embark on an aircraft carrier, Vinh expressed his gratitude and appreciation for CVN-77’s crew and explained the importance and value of the two nations’ increasing cooperation and advancement of security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

NORFOLK (Feb. 21, 2018) Executive officer Capt. Chris Hill, left, shows Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh a model of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)
NORFOLK (Feb. 21, 2018) Executive officer Capt. Chris Hill, left, shows Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States Pham Quang Vinh a model of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)

 

Two days later, we joined allied and partner militaries for the 13th Pacific Partnership mission. The annual maritime operation helps improve disaster response preparedness, resiliency and capacity while enhancing partnerships with participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

In March, the arrival of a detachment of F-35B Lightning II’s with Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) marked increased Navy-Marine Corps sea-based capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. It was the first time the aircraft had deployed aboard a U.S. Navy ship and with a Marine expeditionary unit in the Indo-Pacific.

EAST CHINA SEA (March 5, 2018) An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 touches down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina/Released)
EAST CHINA SEA (March 5, 2018) An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 touches down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina/Released)

 

LHD-1 wasn’t the only ship to mark a first in March. USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam, and became the first U.S. aircraft carrier to visit the country in more than 40 years. U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink described the visit as “an enormously significant milestone in our bilateral relations [with Vietnam]” that demonstrated “U.S. support for a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.”

Also in March, Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 began with the construction of temporary Ice Camp Skate and the arrival of two U.S. Navy fast-attack submarines and one U.K. Royal Navy submarine. The five-week biennial exercise allowed us to assess our operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations.

BEAUFORT SEA (March 9, 2018) The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) surfaces in the Beaufort Sea during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Micheal H. Lee/Released)
BEAUFORT SEA (March 9, 2018) The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) surfaces in the Beaufort Sea during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Micheal H. Lee/Released)

 

On March 16, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly released a memorandum that announced a significant restructuring of how the Secretary of the Navy staff is organized in order to accelerate the pace of change and improve enterprise alignment in the business operations of the department. “A more agile, accountable, and lethal force must be matched by business operations that reflect the same qualities,” said Modly. “We must build a business operations culture that employs faster access to accurate information, reduces overhead and bureaucracy, and streamlines process that impeded rapid decision making. This culture must demonstrate the relentless pursuit of operational improvements in order to stay ahead of our adversaries and make the best use of the resources we are provided by the American people.”

In April, Modly delivered the Navy League’s 2018 Sea-Air-Space Exposition keynote address in National Harbor, Maryland, where he spoke about the future of fleet design and the ways in which we’re working to achieve that architecture. During the expo, military and civilian leadership from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard exchanged ideas on subjects ranging from current and future worldwide operations to innovation in training, logistics, shipbuilding, and making the most of available technology.

On the same day as Modly’s remarks, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group  (HST CSG) deployed from Naval Station Norfolk. For Truman, the deployment followed more than eight months of intense training and preparation that began when the ship completed its on-time periodic incremental availability in July 2017, and culminated in its Composite Training Unit Exercise in March, which certified the ship for deployment.

NORFOLK (April 11, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departs Naval Station Norfolk as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr./Released)
NORFOLK (April 11, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) departs Naval Station Norfolk as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr./Released)

 

On April 14, U.S., French and British forces struck targets in Syria as punishment for Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. The precision strikes against the chemical weapons capabilities were designed to stop Assad from using the banned weapons.

In May, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group commenced air operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Operating from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1’s strike fighter squadrons conducted sorties over Syria, demonstrating the strike group’s ability to support two different geographic combatant commanders simultaneously.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (May 3, 2018) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaysee Lohmann/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (May 3, 2018) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 launches from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kaysee Lohmann/Released)

 

During a change of command ceremony in Norfolk on May 4, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson announced the establishment of U.S. 2nd Fleet. “We’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” said Richardson. “That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the North Atlantic.”

On May 7, the White House announced President Donald J. Trump would award the Medal of Honor to Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL), Retired, Britt Slabinski for his heroic actions in March 2002 during the Battle of Takur Ghar while serving in Afghanistan. At the time, Slabinski was only the 12th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery displayed in Afghanistan. Slabinski received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony May 24; he was inducted into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes on the following day.

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2018) President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski during a ceremony at the White House. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
WASHINGTON (May 24, 2018) President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski during a ceremony at the White House. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)

 

In the Atlantic Ocean, a historic first happened in naval aviation. Exercise Chesapeake 2018 was the first-ever training to fully integrate a French Navy air wing into a single, unified carrier air wing, Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8). Richardson joined his counterpart, Chief of Staff of the French Navy Adm. Christophe Prazuck, aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14 to observe the high-end combined training, which was another demonstration of our implementation of the National Defense Strategy and its direction to strengthen alliances and deepen collaboration to become a more lethal force.

Increasing lethality was also on display as USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) conducted a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia, which marked the completion of the first phase of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Module (SSMM) Developmental Testing for the LCS Mission Modules program. It was the first integrated firing of the SSMM from an LCS. Additionally, this was the second at-sea launch of SSMM missiles from an LCS. SSMM leverages the U.S. Army’s Longbow Hellfire Missile in a vertical launch capability to counter small boat threats.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 11, 2018) The Freedom variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) fires an AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missile during a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 11, 2018) The Freedom variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) fires an AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire missile during a live-fire missile exercise off the coast of Virginia. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

In June, naval ships, aircraft and personnel from India, Japan and the United States participated in exercise Malabar off the coast of Guam; it was the first time the exercise had been conducted there, and was the latest in a continuing series of exercises that have grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security.

Meanwhile, Carrier Air Wing One (CVW) 1, embarked aboard CVN-75, completed its participation in the annual multinational exercise Baltic Operations. CVW-1 operations over the Baltic involved overflight of Europe from the Adriatic Sea and represented the first instance that U.S. carrier aircraft participated in the exercise. F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter aircraft and E/A-18 Growler electronic attack aircraft joined aircraft from Poland, Spain and U.S. Air Forces Europe to demonstrate the ability to perform combined air operations while communicating and coordinating effectively.

Following its participation in BALTOPS, the HST Carrier Strike Group returned to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to resume flight operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, demonstrating the flexibility and capabilities of a carrier strike group.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Jun 10, 2018) Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jason Maginess inspects ordnance prior to launch of an F/A-18 Super Hornet aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rebekah A. Watkins/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Jun 10, 2018) Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jason Maginess inspects ordnance prior to launch of an F/A-18 Super Hornet aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Rebekah A. Watkins/Released)

 

Also in June, the 13th annual Pacific Partnership mission concluded after completing mission stops in Japan and throughout South and Southeast Asia. The annual multilateral, multi-service mission featured partner nation counterparts working together in eight Indo-Pacific nations to improve disaster response preparedness and enhance relationships across the region.

Fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships continued in June with the start of the world’s largest international maritime exercise, the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. With the theme of “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” RIMPAC’s participating nations and forces exercised a wide range of capabilities and demonstrated the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities ranged from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program included gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, and salvage operations.

Navy firsts continued with our first East Coast Amphibious Ready Group Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise, which was completed by USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). The SWATT, which was led by mentors and warfare tactics instructors from Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, provided at-sea mentoring to build more capable and tactically proficient surface forces.

Before the end of the month, USS Coronado (LCS 4) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) completed the first comprehensive Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) for the MQ-8C Fire Scout. The operations, an important milestone for the LCS and Fire Scout programs, demonstrated cohesion between the surface and aviation platforms. The results informed decision-makers on how best to integrate our newest unmanned helicopter with littoral combat ships and other platforms.

In July, aircraft from Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1), embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman, conducted integrated flight operations with French naval aviation aircraft as part of French Air Defense week. The exercise increased readiness and demonstrated the ability to operate together by practicing air warfare and strike techniques, including dissimilar air combat training.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 3, 2018) A French Dassault Rafale M Fighter prepares to touch down on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gitte Schirrmacher/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 3, 2018) A French Dassault Rafale M Fighter prepares to touch down on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gitte Schirrmacher/Released)

 

On July 23, a revision to the requirements for qualification and designation as a surface warfare officer (SWO) was announced. Designators 116X and lateral transfers into the SWO community became the only designators eligible to pursue SWO qualification. This change aligned with new career path revisions, which focused on increased experience on ships, including increased bridge watchstanding opportunities for SWOs.

In August, the Navy and Coast Guard completed a trilateral exercise with Iraqi navy and Kuwaiti navy partners in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The exercise, which focused on improving collective proficiency in maritime security tactics between the three nations and ensuring the freedom of navigation throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, included live fire gunnery exercises, visit, board, search and seizure team training, maritime infrastructure protection drills, search-and-rescue training, and high-value unit protection operations.

The official crest for U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F). (U.S. Navy graphic illustration/Released)
The official crest for U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F). (U.S. Navy graphic illustration/Released)

Prior to its establishment ceremony on Aug. 24, Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet revealed Aug. 22 its new crest and motto, which represents the fleet’s mission. The symbolism is rich and reflective of the purpose of C2F.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson presided over the establishment ceremony as Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis assumed command aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). U.S. 2nd Fleet exercises operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and the North Atlantic. Additionally, it plans and conducts maritime, joint and combined operations as well as trains and recommends certification of combat ready naval forces for maritime employment and operations around the globe. U.S. 2nd Fleet falls under operational control of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

On Aug. 25, the Navy joined the nation in mourning the death of Senator and Navy veteran John S. McCain III who died on that day at age 81. Sen. McCain served as a naval aviator during the Vietnam War. As a prisoner of war, he endured more than five years of captivity, representing America honorably and selflessly. After retiring from the Navy, he continued national service in Congress, first as a representative and later as a senator from Arizona.

Two days later, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed from Naval Station Norfolk, completing its working port visit. The strike group had deployed April 11 and returned to Norfolk July 21 for an extended port visit. During this working port visit, CVN-75 and strike group assets conducted routine maintenance on ships, aircraft and equipment; conducted advanced training; and maintained warfighting certifications.

On Aug. 29, Richardson selected Fleet Master Chief Russell Smith to be our 15th MCPON, following a comprehensive review of potential candidates. Smith was pinned to MCPON, Aug. 31, during USS Constitution’s underway; it marked the first time a MCPON was pinned aboard Constitution.

On the same day, USS Harry S. Truman and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) began dual-carrier sustainment and qualification operations in the western Atlantic Ocean, enhancing combat readiness and interoperability as well as demonstrating the inherent flexibility and scalability of carrier strike groups.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 30, 2018) Aircraft from the Freedom Fighters of Carrier Air Wing 7 fly in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from Destroyer Squadron 2; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) from Destroyer Squadron 28; and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Brooks/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 30, 2018) Aircraft from the Freedom Fighters of Carrier Air Wing 7 fly in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from Destroyer Squadron 2; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) from Destroyer Squadron 28; and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Brooks/Released)

 

Before the end of the month, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Escort Flotilla 4 Battle Group participated in bilateral training in the South China Sea, furthering the interoperability we have been building for years with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

In September, we continued strengthening partnerships. Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, visited the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Navy, Vice-Admiral Ahmed Khaled in Alexandria, Egypt, Sept. 7-8.

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Sept. 7, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, right, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, greets Adm. Ahmad Khaled, commander in chief of the Egyptian Navy, during a reception aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Sept. 7, 2018) Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, right, commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, greets Adm. Ahmad Khaled, commander in chief of the Egyptian Navy, during a reception aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

 

From Sept. 10-12, the HST Carrier Strike Group and the Royal Canadian Navy conducted bilateral operations in the North Atlantic.

Also, U.S. Navy and coalition assets led numerous exercises as part of the greater U.S. 5th Fleet Theater Counter Mine and Maritime Security Exercise.

USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group began operations in U.S. 6th Fleet, continuing to support NATO allies, European and African partner nations, coalition partners, and U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

In Newport, Rhode Island, military leaders from more than 100 nations discussed cooperative strategies for enhancing global security, order and prosperity at the chief of naval operations’ 23rd International Seapower Symposium (ISS) held at U.S. Naval War College. ISS, the world’s premier naval gathering, brought together heads of services to bolster maritime security by discussing common challenges and shared opportunities.

In Millington, Tennessee, Navy Personnel Command opened our MyNavy Career Center contact center Sept. 24, delivering on a promise to provide Sailor-focused customer service and around-the-clock assistance.

Embarked aboard USS Essex (LHD 2), the Marine Corps F-35B conducted its first combat strike in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Sept. 27. During this mission, the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations; the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander.

In October, the Ready, Relevant, Learning Executive Steering Committee held its initial meeting. RRL is one of three pillars for Sailor 2025, which is the Navy’s program to more effectively recruit, develop, manage, reward and retain the forces of tomorrow. The initiative’s goal is to provide Sailors the right training at the right time and in the right way.

On Oct. 2, USS Ashland (LSD 48) became our first ship in the 7th Fleet to conduct amphibious operations with the newly established Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) troops and their equipment. The ARDB, formed on March 27, brings new capability to the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) by combining ground forces, aviation support and logistical capabilities into a cohesive unit capable of operating from the sea and reacting to a variety of scenarios, including self-defense and humanitarian assistance-disaster relief.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 3, 2018) This drain strainer orifice system, a prototype, is a steam system component that permits drainage and removal of water from a steam line while in use. A version of this is approved as the first metal part created by additive manufacturing for shipboard installation. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Ricky Thompson/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 3, 2018) This drain strainer orifice system, a prototype, is a steam system component that permits drainage and removal of water from a steam line while in use. A version of this is approved as the first metal part created by additive manufacturing for shipboard installation. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Newport News Shipbuilding by Ricky Thompson/Released)

On Oct. 11, Naval Sea Systems Command announced the approval of the first metal part created by additive manufacturing for shipboard installation. A prototype drain strainer orifice (DSO) assembly was anticipated to be installed on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in Fiscal Year 2019 for a one-year test and evaluation trial. The DSO assembly is a steam system component that permits drainage/removal of water from a steam line while in use.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a U.S. aircraft carrier entered the Arctic Circle Oct. 19 to conduct operations in the Norwegian Sea. Accompanied by select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG-8), USS Harry S. Truman traveled north to demonstrate the flexibility and toughness of U.S. naval forces through high-end warfare training with regional allies and partners. USS America (CV 66) was the last ship to operate in the area, participating in NATO exercise North Star in September 1991.

On Oct. 25, USS Harry S. Truman and select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG-8) joined U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps service members for the largest NATO exercise since 2015 – Trident Juncture 2018. Along with fostering stronger bonds among allies and partners, Trident Juncture ensured NATO forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat to global security and prosperity.

Five days later, Richardson visited Indonesia, reaffirming our commitment to our strategic partnership with the country. He highlighted the importance of the U.S. and Indonesian relationship at @america, a U.S. Embassy cultural center that helps Indonesians learn more about the U.S. and share ideas about issues that affect both nations.

Also in October, the Department of the Navy released our business operations plan, establishing the framework for the department’s continuing business reform agenda. Through greater accountability, more agile processes and improved management of business operations, the plan will enable greater efficiencies that allow the department to reallocate resources from business operations to readiness and recapitalize our naval forces for the future.

In November, Richardson visited Canberra, Australia, Nov. 1, to reinforce our commitment to U.S.-Australia alliance and explore ways to expand security cooperation.

Then, from Nov. 2 to 3, Richardson visited New Zealand to meet with its naval leadership to discuss deepening the U.S.-New Zealand naval partnership and recognize New Zealand’s role as a leader in regional security.

On Nov. 8, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group finished exercise Keen Sword 2019 with units from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. During the exercise, the strike group conducted several events over 13 days with the JMSDF, including logistics exchanges, replenishments-at-sea, senior leadership engagements, air-defense exercises, anti-submarine warfare exercises, and a three day war-at-sea exercise.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters/Released)

 

Also in November, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group conducted high-end dual carrier operations in the Philippine Sea, demonstrating our unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort.

On Nov. 11, two of the world’s most technologically sophisticated warships, the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), conducted a photo exercise with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) and RFA Tidespring (A136), a Tide-class replenishment tanker of the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). The rendezvous was a reminder of the long alliance between two maritime nations.

Ten days later, USS Ronald Reagan, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Curtis D. Wilbur (DDG 54) anchored in Hong Kong Harbor. Rear Adm. Karl O. Thomas, commander, Carrier Strike Group 5, said “the abundant growth and prosperity that surrounds us in Hong Kong is what the United States Seventh Fleet seeks to preserve for all nations in this important region.”

The Navy’s Surface Fleet became more capable, ready and lethal in November as surface combatants from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group completed our first East Coast Carrier Strike Group Cruiser-Destroyer Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training exercise. Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, described it “as a milestone event not only for the Surface Fleet, but also for the Navy as a whole as we continue to focus on the development of tactical proficiency and lethality which is of strategic value and importance in this era of great power competition.”

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 9, 2018) Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Downing, right, an anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare tactics instructor, assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, mentors Lt. Cmdr. Kris Yost, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf’s (CG 55) chief engineer, during a fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft training event in the ship’s combat information center as part of a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Marquez Magallanes/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 9, 2018) Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Downing, right, an anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare tactics instructor, assigned to Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center, mentors Lt. Cmdr. Kris Yost, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf’s (CG 55) chief engineer, during a fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft training event in the ship’s combat information center as part of a Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Marquez Magallanes/Released)

 

On Nov. 27, we announced USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) achieved a major milestone as it launched from dry dock and moored pierside at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. It was an important step in the ongoing effort to repair and restore one of our most capable platforms, reflecting nearly a year’s worth of wide-reaching and successful coordination across multiple organizations.

On Nov. 30, we joined the nation in mourning the loss of our shipmate and former President George H.W. Bush. Among America’s few seafaring presidents, he passed away at his Houston, Texas, home at the age of 94. Bush enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 13, 1942, on his 18th birthday after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He had preflight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and became one of the youngest naval aviators. He was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve June 9, 1943, days before his 19th birthday.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 2, 2018) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) honor the ship's namesake, former President George H. W. Bush, by lighting Bush's initials and presidential number. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 2, 2018) Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) honor the ship’s namesake, former President George H. W. Bush, by lighting Bush’s initials and presidential number. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

In December, following six days of national mourning, Bush was laid to rest in College Station, Texas, alongside his wife of 72-years, former First Lady Barbara Bush and their late daughter, Robin.

On Dec. 11, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s dynamic force employment drew to a close, departing European waters. The CSG’s deployment began in April and became highly unpredictable when the carrier and a few of its strike group ships remained in the Mediterranean Sea instead of transiting to the Middle East as expected, and then returned to its homeport in Norfolk in July after completing three months of combat operations, and cooperative exercises and engagements with NATO allies and partners in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic.

The next day, the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 completed their carrier qualifications aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), which was the final required component for Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing to issue the squadron its safe-for-flight operations certification. This marked a major milestone for the U.S. Navy toward declaring Initial Operating Capability in 2019. The safe-for-flight operations certification was the final step for VFA-147’s transition from the F/A-18E Super Hornet to the F-35C Lightning II. This process ensures a squadron is manned with qualified personnel to implement maintenance and safety programs in support of fleet operations. All transitioning squadrons are required to complete this certification prior to independently conducting flight operations.

On the same day, the secretaries of the Navy, Army and Air Force announced a conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in April 2019 on the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault at America’s colleges and universities. The service secretaries will open the discussion to leaders and subject matter experts who are actively working to address this critical issue. Experts on the topic of sexual harassment and sexual assault from America’s leading institutions of higher learning and government officials will be invited.

Also on Dec. 12, Modly completed a three-day partnership-building visit to Norway, where he met with senior military and civilian officials to discuss security and stability issues and efforts along with touring some of the Norwegian assets and facilities.

Later in December, the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group, and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed integrated operations in the Arabian Sea. CVN-74 and LHD-2 supported Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, providing armed support to deny terror safe haven in Afghanistan and enable the Afghan Security Forces to set conditions for a political solution.

ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 14, 2018) An MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced) from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor D. Loessin/Released)
ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 14, 2018) An MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced) from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Connor D. Loessin/Released)

 

On Dec. 14, we held a ceremony at Naval Base Coronado to commemorate the establishment of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, our first CMV-22B squadron. VRM-30 was established to begin our transition from the C-2A Greyhound, which has provided logistics support to aircraft carriers for four decades, to the CMV-22B, which has an increased operational range, greater cargo capacity, faster cargo loading/unloading, increased survivability and enhanced beyond-line-of-sight communications compared to the C-2A.

Two days later, nearly 6,500 Sailors from the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group returned to Naval Station Norfolk, completing an eight-month deployment. The strike group deployed April 11 as part of the ongoing rotation of forward deployed forces to support maritime security operations. Several strike group units returned to Norfolk in July 21 for a working port visit until Aug. 28 when they departed to continue their deployment. The strike group’s ships and aircraft conducted a variety of missions, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation. The strike group also participated in numerous bi-lateral and multi-lateral engagements, including Lightning Handshake 2018, Baltic Operations 2018 and Trident Juncture 2018; as well as operations alongside Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Egypt and Norway.

NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 16, 2018) Family and friends wait on the pier for Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to return to Naval Station Norfolk (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)
NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 16, 2018) Family and friends wait on the pier for Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to return to Naval Station Norfolk (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)

 

On Dec. 17, Richardson released A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, Version 2.0, which “sets a framework by which the Navy will continue to prepare, fight, and win,” said Richardson.

On Dec. 18, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) pulled into Naval Station Norfolk, completing its deployment to South and Central America in support of Enduring Promise. Comfort’s embarked medical team worked with health and government partners in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, providing care both aboard the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems caused partially by an increase in cross-border migrants. The deployment reflected the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Americas.

On Dec. 25, the USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. More than 4,500 Sailors and Marines are prepared to conduct a variety of missions, including maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation.

Finally, our look back at 2018 wouldn’t be complete without the ships that joined our fleet in 2018, both increasing our lethality and expanding our capacity for the Navy the Nation needs.

2018 Commissionings

As 2018 draws to a close, Naval History & Heritage Command looks back at this year's #USNavy commissionings as we continue to increase our lethality and expand our capacity, supporting the Navy the Nation needs.

Posted by U.S. Navy on Wednesday, December 26, 2018

 

As we did in 2018, we will continue in 2019 to build a more lethal force, strengthen our alliances and attract new partners, and reform for greater performance and affordability to remain the most effective global maneuver force in the world.

Be sure to stay up-to-date in 2019 by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and here on the Navy Live blog as well as subscribing to Navy News Service updates.