SOUDA BAY, Greece (Jan. 13, 2016) Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 3rd Class Kyle Brown, and Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 3rd Class Bryant Fossier, perform maintenance aboard USS Carney (DDG 64). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold/Released)
The principle of good stewardship stems from an understanding and an appreciation of the resources that the American people have entrusted to us. Our ships are funded by taxpayer dollars and we have a responsibility to smartly operate and properly maintain them. Sixty percent of the Fleet’s shipboard manning comes from accessions, and many Sailors join the Navy right after high school graduation. Therefore, the reliefs for many of our Sailors serving aboard our ships today are currently in the eighth grade. The fact that many of today’s ships will still be in commission years from now and the Sailors that will man them have yet to be recruited, you realize the importance of taking care of our ships. The maintenance, modernization and training completed today not only benefit our current operations, but also preserve our future capability. Therefore, we need to ensure the highest level of care, cleanliness, and material condition aboard our ships. If we follow the guiding principle of good stewardship, we will produce warships ready for tasking by our fleet commanders.
MAYPORT, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2018) Seaman Jonathon Espinozalopez, left, and Seaman Jeffrey Boekeloo, right, drive the ship from the bridge of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) as it departs Naval Station Mayport as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in Europe and the Middle East. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin Leitner/Released)
The principle of professional development finds root in the thought that each Sailor aboard our ships has a responsibility to command their actions, their environment and the situation. We need proficient, confident, and highly capable professionals manning every watch-station. A crew this is well-trained, educated and qualified is a crew that knows their ship and her missions.
As part of professional development, we owe our Sailors the opportunity to fleet-up in responsibility and advance through the ranks. In a time of crisis or combat, we will be dependent upon each Sailor to not only know their job, but to know their boss’s job. A phrase commonly used in sports, “next person up,” is more relevant to how our Navy operates today. We must be prepared to fight today, tomorrow, and next week. Our ships must be able to take a hit and continue to fight. A crew that knows the ship’s missions and her systems will be able to take that ship into the fight and win.
The last fundamental principle – safety – needs to always be at on the forefront of our actions. Operating ships at sea is inherently dangerous. Knowing this, I want to be crystal clear; nothing short of combat operations should force us to put a shipmate’s life in danger unnecessarily. We must continue to mature our ability to identify hazards and apply risk management. Risk management produces safety by getting us to think 6 to 12 steps ahead of what we’re doing. This is important because readying our ships for operational tasking requires us to “train like we fight” – underway and under strenuous conditions. We can’t necessarily assume someone senior to us has thought of the consequences of an action. Any Sailor, from the most junior to the most senior, can save a shipmate’s life by simply asking the question, “Should we be doing this?” The ability to speak out with regard to safety needs to be driven to the lowest level.
Again, I believe that if we fully understand and live by the principles of Good Stewardship, Professional Development and Safety, we set ourselves up to win every time – we own our actions, we “own the fight.”
I am humbled and honored to serve as the Commander of our Surface Force. My job, and that of my staff, is to ensure our commanding officers have everything they need to get their ships underway in support of our fleet and combatant commanders. Now is the time to think seriously about what it takes to be ready for conflict, to be more proficient, and to develop the mental toughness in the calm of peacetime that will be drawn upon in the chaos surrounding combat.