The Surface Force Atlantic Force Chaplain supports unit ministry with religious ministry tasks enumerated in OPNAVINST 1730.1E as well as those tasks associated with Professional Navy Chaplaincy to include the Navy Chaplain Corps community capabilities (provide, facilitate, care, advise). In the basic phase, the Religious Ministry Team (RMT) is trained to accomplish the tasks through SURFLANT Force ministry programming and is evaluated on its ability to proceed to the integrated phase.
RMTs aboard the ships of the surface force are principally involved in carrying out the religious ministry tasks. During the basic phase, surface ship commanders develop their Command Religious Programs (CRP) with the assistance of chaplains either assigned to the ship, squadron, and ministry center or designated by the force. For ships without a staff chaplain permanently aboard, it is of particular importance that the assessment of religious needs, as well as the training and certification of appropriate lay leaders to facilitate accommodation of religious needs during deployment is conducted and established. This process is facilitated by an assigned ministry center or higher echelon chaplain who may or may not ride the ship at some point. In addition to lay leaders, the commander, advised by a chaplain, develops plans to utilize available chaplains in the forward operating area as they become available, to include making support requests through the cognizant numbered fleet to other units in proximity with RMTs embarked. Particular attention is paid to scheduling such support on the occasions of major religious holidays. Larger ships’ companies with RMTs consisting of multiple chaplains or with multiple RMTs embarked are often able to support such needs.
The ministry center assists commanders of cruisers and destroyers in determining the shape of the CRP through the administration and analysis of needs assessments. Organized directly under the force, the ministry center executes force religious ministry standards, to include training and assignment of chaplains. The force commander sets the standard for each platform. The ministry center then manages the available man-hours to achieve the standard.