USS Pearl Harbor Welcomes "Leaders to Sea" 
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jonathan P. Idle  
USS Pearl Harbor, At Sea - Five Southern California leaders in business and industry got underway with the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) Sept. 13 as part of the "Leaders to Sea" program.

The "Leaders to Sea" program, sponsored by Commander, Naval Surface Forces, is designed to provide influential community leaders, educators, and business and industry executives with insight into the daily operations of a Navy ship at sea.

While on board, participants toured the ship, observed flight operations, received special briefings on the ship's capabilities and met with the crew.

Peter Bacci, senior vice president of a commercial real estate company, said his time on the ship gave him a new appreciation for what Sailors do on a daily basis.

"It was unbelievable," Bacci said. "This has been the most fun I've had in a long time. I had no idea about the interaction between the Marines and the Navy and how they all work together. It's been very inspiring. I didn't realize how young some of those Sailors are and how hard they work. I think we as a society can and should do more for the people who defend our country."

Bacci said he was impressed with the ship's capabilities and how the crew goes about running their daily operations.

"It was all surprising," said Bacci. "The weapons systems, the machinery, the way they cross-check each other, the different command centers and the whole safety process was very interesting to me. It was incredible to see how hard everyone works, and how well they work together as a team."

Cmdr. Mike Harris, Pearl Harbor's commanding officer, said he enjoyed the chance to exchange ideas and information with the group.

"They get to see where their tax dollars are going and they also gain an appreciation for what we do on a daily basis," Harris said. "As leaders in business, some of their innovative ideas have bled over into the Navy, and in the time they've been aboard there has been a lot of ideas and information exchanged."

Bacci believes more people from the civilian sector should take advantage of programs like "Leaders to Sea" to gain a greater awareness of the military does.

"Most people don't know what goes on aboard a ship. They have no idea how hard these kids work to defend our country, how safe we really are, and how we have so many eyes and ears above, on and below the water. I think if our population knew what was going on in our military it would change their perspective."
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