BURLINGTON, Vermont – Nestled on the shores of historic Lake Champlain along the Vermont-New York border sits the most populous city in the state. Burlington boasts a rich naval heritage, yet like most land-locked cities less than one percent of its citizens have served in or know someone who has served in the Navy.
The Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, who is the leader of the SWO (surface warfare officer) community visited Burlington this week as part of Navy's Executive Engagement Visit program. During this visit Rowden, affectionately known as the “SWO Boss”, talked with city leaders and citizens about why the Surface Navy is important to them.
A native of Washington, D.C., and a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Rowden also has as a rich naval heritage and ties to the local community.
“My father, who retired as a 3-star admiral, grew up in Wells River, Vt., and I have fond memories of vacationing here in Vergennes,” said Rowden.
In recognition of the strong ties between the Navy and Vermont, many of its ships have been named in honor of the state and its communities such as USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), USS Montpelier (CL 57), USS Ticonderoga (CG 47) and USS Vermont (BB 20).
“One of my favorite things about Vermont is its strong Navy history,” said Rowden. “Vergennes is where the nascent American fleet defeated the British in the Battle of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain. USS Saratoga and USS Ticonderoga were among some of the fine Navy ships built on Otter Creek at the mouth of Lake Champlain. Vermont has always had, and will continue to have, a special place in Navy history.”
While in Burlington, Rowden met with Burlington’s Rotary Club, the Vermont Council on World Affairs, the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Dean of the University of Vermont, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and Faculty of the school’s Complex Systems Studies. He also visited the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital, the Burlington Electric Department biomass facility to discuss the Great Green Fleet, and tossed out the first pitch at a Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game. This visit was to reaffirm ties to the Vermont community and inform the public about the capability, importance, and value of today's Navy and its relevance to national security.
“The current security environment is much different today than it was 10 or even five years ago,” said Rowden. “And this is exactly why the United States needs a strong and capable Navy. In any security environment, the best defense is a great offense,” said Rowden. “It is the Navy that helps keep these threats away from our shores and borders.”
“Presence matters,” he continued. “We want America to know that their United States Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, protecting and defending America on the world's oceans, and that the United States Navy is ready to defend America at all times. We are the ‘away team’.”
The Navy’s mission is to provide combatant commanders with lethal, ready, well-trained, and logistically-supported naval forces to assure, deter and win.
I am thrilled to be here representing the Navy, discussing its relevance, and explaining why it is important not only to our national security, but to our way of life,” said Rowden.
For more information on Navy Surface Forces visit the Commander, Naval Surface Forces website at http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/Pages/home.aspx.