Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
Commander's Corner
Hafa Adai Surface Warriors!
RADM Gumataotao

I’m writing to you from historic Hampton Roads, home of the Jamestown Exposition, beautiful Virginia Beach, and site of the pivotal MONITOR & MERRIMACK sea battle. Most importantly, I write to you from Naval Surface Forces Atlantic where more than 25k Sailors man 73 ships homeported in Norfolk, Little Creek, Mayport, Rota, Italy, and Bahrain.

I want to take a tactical pause and reflect on the awesome contributions of our Surface Warriors. Amidst the blocking and tackling of your deckplate and waterfront work, it is important to stand back and appreciate the contributions of every Sailor.

Much has changed since RADM Robley D. Evans led the Great White Fleet out of Norfolk in 1907. This event heralded the US Navy’s emergence as a global Naval Power. Fast forward 108 years and you will see our Surface Navy continuing to answer all bells for national tasking and sharply executing the CNO’s tenets of Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready.

The operating environment has changed. Today, you will find our Sailors executing new initiatives like Aegis Ashore, PCs to Bahrain, FDNF Rota, Afloat Forward Staging Base, stationing LCS and homeport shifting an ARG to Mayport. With these initiatives, our strategic shift to deploy more surface forces forward increases our responsiveness and readiness to operate in the global commons.

AEGIS AshoreAEGIS Ashore: Today, we are taking our maritime missile defense craft across the beach with AEGIS ASHORE in Romania and Poland. As I write, the first of two AEGIS Ashore suites have been optested INCONUS and are being dismantled and shipped to Romania. By the end of next year, the first site will be operational with Sailors standing CIC watch on the ground in Europe in an unprecedented concept born at sea!

FDNF Rota FDNF Rota: We are sending ships to Rota, Spain with the Forward Deployment Naval Force, consisting of USS DONALD COOK, USS ROSS, USS PORTER, USS CARNEY. These ships, the crews and their families, are realizing the operational relevance of their patrols in Sixth Fleet, and the hospitalities and cultures afforded by the citizens of Spain. Manning, training and equipping for the away game is rife with challenges and the combined efforts of C6F, SURFLANT and these crews are making the unscripted a successful reality.

Patrol Craft Bahrain Patrol Craft Bahrain: We have placed tremendous responsibilities and adventures on the shoulders of Lieutenants and junior Lieutenant Commanders in Command, and their innovative crews of Patrol Craft forward deployed in Bahrain. They are delivering! The versatility and punch of these Patrol Craft and their contributions are summed up in VADM John W. Miller’s revelation to me: “I love these PCs and more importantly, so do our Allies in the region.” Today, you will find new shore facilities along the quay wall at Mina Salman supporting the nested PCs, USCG cutters, MCMs, along with our partner nations and USS PONCE.

Afloat Forward Staging Base Afloat Forward Staging Base: In 2011, CENTCOM ordered bells for an Afloat Forward Staging Base and in a mere six months, our Navy answered with the converted USS PONCE. Our Sailors teamed up with Civilian Mariners and took USS PONCE from the brink of decommissioning and deployed a 43-year wise ship to the Navy’s front line. She and her hybrid crew of IA Sailors and Civilian Mariners just celebrated her second year forward deployed. We are realizing tremendous value with USS PONCE’s presence and capabilities supporting Joint, International, Multi-national, and Interagency forces in Central Command.

ARG to Mayport ARG to Mayport: We are in the middle of transitioning USS IWO JIMA, USS NEW YORK, and USS FORT MCHENRY from Norfolk, VA to Mayport, FL. Anyone who has executed a change in homeport understands the unseen and often unappreciated challenges of moving ships, homes, schools and maintenance talent to a new port. These Sailors, their Families, and the maintenance community are executing this move amidst a very demanding operational schedule and knocking it out of the park!

Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mayport Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mayport: We are literally building the foundations of LCSRON TWO in Mayport, FL. The first LCSRON TWO Sailors are arriving today as we take the lessons learned from San Diego and build the man, train, equip and certification infrastructure in Mayport. The Sailors and Families making this unscripted challenge successful deserve our full support while they are succeeding in realizing the full potential of this platform. The lessons we are learning with the initial hull forms are informing future flights of LCS and laying a foundation for horizon ASW, ASuW and MCM capabilities these hull forms will support, in addition to her ability to command the shallows.

While we execute these structural changes to the Surface Navy, your ships are increasing in capability. The USS WASP is modernizing to receive the Joint Strike Fighter, allowing our amphibious fleet to leverage game changing capabilities. Your ship networks will improve with CANES, improving our presence in the cyber as well as the physical domain. The AEGIS Fleet is going through modernization. This brings amazing capability in Integrated Air and Missile Defense using the standard missile family – especially the Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFCA-CA) capability using the incredible SM-6. New ships, new forward deployments, and new technology – these exciting new changes will be visible across the globe.

To be clear, you could have all this technology, but it would be all for naught without trained and competent Sailors. In this environment of change, it is not the platforms or the readiness models that make us the most powerful Navy on the planet. It is our Sailors on the battlefront and the Families who provide a solid foundation on the homefront. We fully support the important SURFOR initiatives designed to increase our technical and tactical proficiency. From instituting the Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) program to implementing ADOC to improved navigation training, all examples of the many initiatives ongoing to build the warfighting competence of our Sailors. Every time I visit ships on the waterfront and see first-hand the work in Rota, Bahrain, Norfolk, and Mayport, I see Sailors, civilians, and Families with exactly the right “Salt” to succeed in this era of change. I see Sailors with the determined “Aspiration” to succeed, because failure is not in our DNA. I see leaders with the right “Attitudes” and the “Adaptability” to turn the unscripted into a scripted success. These three As are the qualities that will sustain us during this time of innovation and change.

The CNO’s tenets of Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready are our creed, and we are living these tenets today. With new technologies, new processes, and new perspectives, we firmly plant ourselves in the tried-and-true priorities of improving surface warrior tactical and technical competence, delivering combat-ready warships, managing wholeness, synchronizing our many lines of effort, and promoting Navy Family wellness.

We, indeed you, are laying the foundation of the Navy’s future. Even within these new deployment models and new platforms, we continue to produce and deliver the most capable, highly trained Sailors armed with combat-ready warships, prepared to answer our Nation’s tasking and achieve decisive victory at sea. This is my daily reality, and one I share with VADM Copeman, Naval Surface Force Pacific and Commander, Naval Surface Forces.

I am honored to lead the outstanding Sailors of Surface Force Atlantic. We Have the Watch, Be Relevant and All Ahead Flank… Surface Warfare Magazine

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