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YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 20, 2017) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, Commander Naval Surface Forces, addresses the crew of the forward-deployed Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) during an all hands call on the pier. Rowden is visiting Fleet Activities Yokosuka, where most of the forward-deployed 7th Fleet ships are stationed, to better understand forward-deployed readiness challenges and to discuss the role of the new Naval Surface Group Western Pacific organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers/Released)
SURFOR Commander Reviews Readiness of Forward Deployed Ships

YOKOSUKA, JAPAN – Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces walked the deckplates with the commanding officers of each surface combatant forward deployed to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, Sept. 25-27.

The visit aboard each surface ship afforded commanding officers the opportunity to provide frontline insight into maintenance, repair, personnel and training items that they feel may affect their ability to complete Scheduled Maintenance Availabilities on time, or may impact their ship’s training and operations.

“As a community, the Surface Force is fully supporting the chief of naval operations (CNO)-directed comprehensive review currently being conducted by Adm. Davidson and we look forward to its recommendations,” said Rowden of the visit. “In the meantime, it is necessary to take a good hard look at what we do now and to make sure we are immediately getting after the necessary actions needed to improve the readiness of our ships.”

These commanding officer (CO) guided walk-throughs focused on assessing the ships’ critical systems and targeted watchstations that impact navigation, seamanship, damage control, engineering, and communications. They provided each CO face-to-face communication with the senior officer in the Surface Force.

“I wanted to see firsthand how our commanders are tracking and measuring the material, training and manning readiness of their ships – I wanted to see their ship’s certification health from their perspective;” Rowden said. “We have reporting and monitoring systems in place for all aspects of a ship’s readiness, and I wanted to make sure the data being inputted into those systems is presenting a consistent and accurate picture of readiness. We owe that to the Sailors.”

Rowden conducted all-hands calls with the cruisers and destroyers that are forward deployed to Fleet Activities Yokosuka to speak to Sailors about how the Surface Force is moving forward to become a better, safer Navy.

“I have absolute confidence that our crews are working very hard to care for their ships and to meet operational requirements. This visit is about taking an honest, hard look at how we do business and adjusting as required to remain the world’s preeminent naval force, uniquely capable of operating in the waters of the world’s oceans,” said Rowden.

While this visit targeted the warships currently forwarded deployed to Yokosuka and Sasebo, Rowden intends to conduct similar personal deckplate readiness visits throughout the Surface Force. Rowden visited commands and ships forward deployed to Sasebo, Sept. 27-28.

In addition, Rowden introduced the role of the recently established Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (NSGWP) to the commanding officers and Sailors on the waterfront. The new command will address the organizational gap that has allowed the forward deployed Navy to develop a culture that focuses on operations to the detriment of readiness. NSGWP consolidates authorities to oversee the training and certification of our forward deployed warships, helping to balance operational demands and the readiness of these ships. “The Surface Navy operates under the tenets of being Forward, Visible, and Ready,” said Capt. Richard Dromerhauser, who is currently leading NSGWP. 

 “I fully take onboard the CNO’s point; we must understand that the enduring strength for our Surface Force can only be built on a foundation of solid readiness.” In actions to improve the readiness of the Surface Force, Rowden released a message to the waterfront on Sep. 15 addressing changes to be immediately implemented across the fleet. Rowden also addressed the Readiness for Sea Assessments requirements for ships forward deployed to Yokosuka.

 The specifics of his message included bridge resource management training, revisions to the casualty report policy, standardizing commanding officer standing orders, and circadian rhythm watchbills and shipboard routines.

  “As professionals, there comes a time when we must pause, self-reflect, assess, and determine if course corrections are required,” said Rowden. “For Surface Warriors, at all individual and command levels, that time is now.”

The comprehensive review results will help pave the way surface forces are manned, trained and equipped in the future. “I am proud of our forward deployed Sailors. You have a lot to be proud of,” said Rowden. “It is my greatest honor to lead the world’s finest Naval Surface Force. Together we will spare nothing to ensure that we remain such in all respects.”

For more information on Navy Surface Forces visit the Commander, Naval Surface Forces website at http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/Pages/home.aspx.

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