This is my first opportunity to address you as a community and to tell you just how thrilled I am to be your new SWO Boss. I relieved VADM Copeman in early August and have spent the last seven weeks out and about the fleet and aboard our ships. I’ve taken the opportunity to see our amphibs in the yards in San Diego, and Sailors aboard ships in Bremerton, Pearl Harbor, Norfolk, and Yokosuka. Next up is Korea.
Everywhere I travel I meet the amazing Sailors and dedicated leaders, shipyard and maintenance teams we have throughout the Surface Community. But I also see the challenges we are faced with concerning the maintenance of our ships and just how critical it is to get our surface force the support it desperately needs to be able to man, train and equip our warfighting ships.
And why? Our heritage is warfare on the sea and spans from sail to nuclear power; from battleships to gunboats, from carriers to landing craft. Our first and last thoughts are to fight and win America’s wars at sea. We are emboldened by the knowledge that we are the world’s premiere naval force. We are competent, confident, and aggressive in all aspects of maritime warfare. We are simultaneously warriors and diplomats who love adventure at sea and engagement of other peoples ashore. We buy our nation’s leaders decision space and time. It is a hard life but a rich one. It is a culture of leadership, warfighting, and the sea. We are the face of the United States Navy.
As Commander of Naval Surface Forces, I have one and only one priority, and that is to ensure that everything we do makes us better warfighters. Warfighting comes first, but it supported by three enduring pillars: combat readiness, material readiness and personal readiness. The warfighting readiness of our forces is at the core of the Surface Warfare profession for officers and enlisted alike. We have a “train like you fight” mentality and training at sea is the best way to hone our warfighting capability. Qualifying and serving on the watch bill in a warfare position at sea should be the goal of every Surface Warrior.
I believe we need to rededicate ourselves to the profession of Surface Warfare and recognize the challenge posed by those who wish to deny the freedom of the world’s oceans. Projecting power from the sea thousands of miles from our own shores is this Navy’s primary competitive advantage over all other navies. In order to do so, we must control the sea and the air above it, where it matters, when it matters.
We will continue to send ready ships forward and we will work to ensure our ships receive the maintenance needed to reach their estimated service lives. In order to stay ahead of the deepening threats, we will modernize our ships and advocate for changes in ship design that enable more efficient and less intrusive upgrades.
Finally, our ships require well-trained and ready Sailors to command and fight them. We value individual growth and providing the ability for every Sailor to achieve their full potential. We value the time and skill of our Sailors, we provide the resources, tools and training necessary for mission accomplishment, and we recognize the sacrifices made by our people and their families.
The Surface Force is the Navy’s face to the world, a helping hand to those in need, and a powerful, ever-present reminder of our Nation’s resolve and might. Our responsibilities are great, but so are our capabilities and talents. We recognize that while we are members of the world’s finest Navy, we can always do better.
I thank each of you for your dedication to the Surface Warfare community, to the Navy, and to our country and look forward to seeing you on the waterfront!