NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO (Aug. 27, 2020) - Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, delivered the keynote address at the Surface Navy Association’s (SNA) Waterfront Symposium, Aug. 27.
Although the Navy cancelled its traditional public symposium due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was held online and rebranded to a virtual event. This allowed the surface force to continue forward with the event and to open up the opportunity for attendance to a larger audience.
The theme of the professional development event was “Battle-Ready Ships for Today’s Fight.”
“You need to make it top priority to fix your equipment and train for battle, because the battle will not wait for you to be ready,” said Kitchener. “Uncertainty during this time of great power competition means that we’ll need to be ready. Despite challenges we’ve been tackling on a day-to-day basis, we must keep our eye on the ball. We in the Surface Forces are in the business of being prepared to fight and win at sea.”
Kitchener had a message for commanding officers during his address.
“For our commanding officers, I want you to use that and push your authorities to take advantage of mission command – to have the freedom to act in getting the mission done,” Kitchener said. “But, an important part of that is understanding the risk. We need to assess the risks, properly communicate them to our leaders and crews, and then execute.”
Kitchener told the story of the quintessential surface warfare officer, Vice Adm. John Bulkeley, whose actions earned him a Medal of Honor. His attributes underpin the surface force’s values. Kitchener said the traits Bulkeley displayed are in the Surface Warfare community’s DNA, and the Surface Force will continue to strive toward the warrior traits reflected by Bulkeley and toward a culture of excellence.
“For four months and eight days, then Lt. Cmdr. Bulkeley savaged enemy forces without repairs, overhaul, or maintenance facilities for his ships,” Kitchener said. “He was a forceful and daring leader, willing to take calculated risks, executing offensive actions that demonstrated a resourcefulness and ingenuity which, I believe, makes him an outstanding leader and the epitome of a Surface Warrior.”