SAN DIEGO -- Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, returned to USS Boxer (LHD 4) on Feb. 9, to visit Sailors and assess the ship’s status as Boxer gets ready to finish its maintenance period and regain her operational certifications for the Strike Group and Fleet Commanders.
Rowden, and other members of his staff, were greeted by Capt. Martin L. Pompeo, Boxer’s commanding officer, Capt. Michael S. Ruth, Boxer’s executive officer and Capt. Keith G. Moore, Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1. The group toured Boxer’s hangar bay, flight deck and forward main machinery room. Rowden was briefed on the ship’s condition, and the remaining maintenance evolutions that have to happen before Boxer can get underway for sea trials.
Ens. Lauren M. Hood and Ens. Sebastian R. Delossantos received their surface warfare pins from Rowden in the wardroom aboard Boxer during the visit. Rowden removed his own surface warfare pin during the ceremony to pin Delossantos.
When the floor was opened for questions, Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Breeden, Boxer’s Command Control Communications Computers Collaboration and Intelligence Department Head, asked Rowden to expand upon Distributed Lethality, a recent combat readiness initiative.
“We need to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game,” said Rowden.
The evolution of requirements for defense on surface ships has, since the 30’s, revolved around protecting aircraft carriers, according to Rowden. Because of the high cost of this approach and concerns about its efficacy, more emphasis will be put on the offensive capabilities of the surface force.
“We need to make them worry about our surface ships,” said Rowden. “We have to take what we have today and make it better; use it differently, which includes the possibility of bringing back our Expeditionary Strike Groups.”
In Boxer’s Chiefs’ Mess, Rowden stressed the importance of formality, procedural compliance, a questioning attitude, watch team backup and level of knowledge for Sailors under their watch.
“You have to have standards in everything,” said Rowden. “The trick is to decide that you’re going to expend the energy to make sure everyone understands them and complies. The Chiefs’ Mess is the heart and soul of any ship. Your Sailors deserve the best leadership.”
“Admiral Rowden’s visit demonstrated the importance our Surface Warfare community is placing on getting planned maintenance right, not only for our ships readiness, but also for our Sailor’s safety,” said Capt. Pompeo. “The admiral noticed and appreciated the great deal of time and energy our Sailors have expended into getting Boxer ready as we prepare for the operational challenges that lie ahead.”
This is Rowden’s second visit to Boxer during the planned maintenance availability (PMA) period. During this visit Rowden took time to tell the engineering department exactly what he looks for when he visits ships, and was happy with the current condition of the forward main machinery room.
“They say we have ten aircraft carriers,” said Rowden. “I say that with ships like this one, it’s more like twenty.”
Boxer is in a planned maintenance availability period (PMA) at its homeport of Naval Base San Diego.