EVERETT, Wash. - Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visited the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Shoup (DDG 86) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) during a trip to Naval Station Everett (NSE), Nov. 1.
As multi-mission platforms, destroyers are capable of sustained combat operations supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence.
While aboard Shoup, Rowden took the opportunity to conduct an all-hands call on the flight deck to speak to the importance of the crews work.
“I hope they understand their value to the Navy and the country. It takes the entire team all pulling together to whatever we’re assigned to do from our leadership, and how important each and every single one of them is to the execution of whatever the mission is,” said Rowden.
Part of Rowden’s duties include overseeing the combat material, and personnel readiness of ships stationed in the Pacific Fleet. Visiting ships and taking questions from the crew gives him insight into the needs of the ships under his charge.
“The only way to really understand what’s going on aboard our ships is to go down and spend time on the deck plates,” said Rowden. “You can’t really take the temperature of the water without really diving in. In order to understand what the issues are, you’ve got to go down and spend time with the Sailors, and that’s where you get the best feedback on how things are going and what I can do to benefit them.”
During the visit he toured the ship and participated in a brief awards ceremony.
“It was a great day for Shoup. The big success was we had 20 surface warfare qualified Sailors that he got to pin and one SWO [surface warfare officer] pin, to see those Sailors get that recognition from our boss was pretty awesome, and I’m proud of them,” said Cmdr. Ted Wiederholt, executive officer, Shoup.
After concluding his visit aboard Shoup, Rowden immediately traveled to Gridley where he addressed the crew on the mess decks.
“I think it means a lot to see the admiral come onboard, knowing what he can do for the crew,” said Gridley’s Command Master Chief Kassel K. Ndiaya. “When he came to the mess decks he connected with the crew. He wasn’t too formal, and when you want to connect with Sailors you’ve got to be personable and he did just that. I think they appreciated that, I think they asked good questions, and he gave them what he knew.”
Rowden thanked the crew and addressed Gridley’s operational schedule and a recent homeport reassignment to NSE.
“It helps the crew have a sense of purpose and helps them understand that what they do day in and day out matters to leadership. It’s not just work that goes unappreciated, it is recognized at the highest levels.” Cmdr. Marc D. Crawford, commanding officer, Gridley.
During Rowden’s visit, he asked both crews why we have a Navy. Although answers varied, he placed emphasis on the Navy’s goal of maritime superiority and how the crew falls into the larger scope of the mission.
Destroyers, like Gridley, deploy as part of Surface Action Groups which provide operational flexibility to combatant commanders and highlight the surface fleet's critical role in meeting our national security strategy, ensuring freedom of navigation for all maritime traffic, providing reassurance to our partner nations, and acting as a deterrent to those who would challenge us for control of the seas.
“They’re doing something very few people can do, and even fewer people volunteer to do,” said Rowden. “I’m not sure if I can characterize how proud they should be, but I can certainly say how proud I am of their willingness to man their ships and sail them into harm’s way and do the business of our nation, which is keeping her free and safe for the prosperity of all like-minded nations.”
For more information about Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/.