SAN DIEGO – Eighteen business and government leaders from Southern California spent a day at sea aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) as part of the Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) Leaders to Sea (LTS) program Dec. 8-10.
SURFOR implemented the program more than 10 years ago to educate community leaders on what the Navy does to protect national interests. In that time, hundreds of influential community members have embarked ships to gain insight into the daily operations of Sailors at sea.
The Sampson LTS participants were flown via SH-60 Seahawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 to the ship, which was conducting training in the Southern California operating area. Once aboard, the group was greeted by Sampson’s commanding officer, Commander Tripp Hardy, who provided an overview of surface force operations during a question and answer session. After discussing the role and mission of both the Navy and the ship, the group embarked on a memorable tour.
“The Leaders to Sea Program provided a great opportunity for Sampson Sailors to show the participants a little bit about what they do on a day to day basis,” said Hardy. “I think the best part of this experience was the interaction between the crew and the visitors. This opportunity also gave the participants a first hand view and an appreciation of Navy life at sea.”
The guests were led through the main engine room control station, combat information center, a damage control repair station, berthing spaces, and mess decks, where Sailors explained the daily operations and equipment in the spaces. They also witnessed live fire exercises, to include firing of small arms, the Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, the Mk 45 five-inch Light Weight Gun Mount and the Mk 38 25 mm Machine Gun System.
Additionally, the participants observed helicopter operations from the helicopter control tower and a refueling at sea evolution alongside USNS Yukon (T-AO 202). Guests even had a chance to interact with officers during lunch in the wardroom before concluding their day at sea with a flight back to Naval Air Station North Island.
“This was the chance of a lifetime,” said Brad Norton, a professional hockey player. “It was amazing to see the motivated attitude of the crew and how well they worked together, each doing their part to contribute to the mission.”
USS Sampson is attached to Destroyer Squadron 23 and homeported in San Diego.