SAN DIEGO – Five business and government leaders from Southern California spent a day at sea aboard the guided missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) October 7 as part of the Naval Surface Forces Leaders to Sea (LTS) program.
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 Vandegrift LTS participants were flown aboard the ship via SH-60 Seahawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 to the ship, which was conducting training in the Southern California operating area. Once aboard, the group was greeted by Vandegrift’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Dean Rawls, 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 an exciting and memorable tour.
"The Leaders to Sea Program provides us with a wonderful opportunity to share a day in the Navy with the program participants,” said Rawls. “Not only are they provided a first hand look at daily operations at sea, but it also allows the participants to see the level of commitment and motivation of the Sailors serving in our Navy."
A tour of ship spaces included the main engine room control station, galley, bridge, and weapons systems, which provided a glimpse of Vandegrift’s inner workings and the vital role the crew plays in the ship’s operation and readiness.
“I had a fantastic time,” said Rebecca Kelley, Director of Community Relations for San Diego County District 4. “The crew was amazing and welcoming. The officers and Sailors knew their jobs and responsibilities to a ‘T’. It was a very positive experience.”
Following their exciting morning, guests interacted with the commanding officer and officers during lunch in the wardroom where they had a chance to provide feedback and ask additional questions before concluding their day at sea with a flight to Naval Air Station North Island.
“It was fantastic,” said Jeff Davi, Commissioner and Director for the California Department of Real Estate. “I did not expect to have such an experience. The morale on the ship was great.”
Vandegrift is attached to Destroyer Squadron One and homeported in San Diego.