Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson and Fleet Master Chief April Beldo, fleet master chief of manpower, personnel, training and education visited the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Aug. 28.
Ferguson is currently in the 7th Fleet area of operations to discuss U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force interoperability and to meet with Sailors to discuss the value of forward-deployed naval forces.
“It was important for me to come here and visit our forward deployed forces. Operating forward is central to who we are as a Navy,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson spoke with more than 3,000 Sailors during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay as part of a series of engagements with Sailors in the region and Japanese government officials.
“Forward presence matters; the Navy has to be where it matters, when it matters,” said Ferguson. “We need to sustain our presence to reassure our allies, deter aggression, provide stability and most importantly, to protect the interest of the U.S.”
Topics discussed included issues relevant to the U.S. Navy in the 7th Fleet area of operations as well as issues such as sequestration.
“We have to protect the readiness of our force,” said Ferguson. “You will see that we will continue to flow the resources, the investments and our latest technology to the Asia-Pacific region.”
The question-and-answer session gave Ferguson the opportunity to discuss the concerns and future goals of George Washington Sailors.
“It was a great morale booster,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Alhaji Sensay, from George Washington’s engineering department. “To come talk to us about what goes on with the government and how it affects the Navy and the military as whole is a great thing.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Press Release, August 29, 2013; Image: US Navy