Adm. Harry Harris, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visited the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) May 21 as part of a visit to the U.S. Navy Region Northwest.
Harris spoke with Sailors during an all-hands call in the hangar bay and emphasized the important work the crew has done to prepare for future operations.
“I am glad to back aboard Nimitz,” said Harris. “This is a great ship and all of you do great things. The heart and soul of our United States Navy is the carrier strike group.”
Harris also emphasized that the role of the aircraft carrier is vital to the U.S. Navy’s continued success and future stability.
“No matter the crisis, the question is asked; ‘where is the carrier?'” said Harris. “I am grateful to be able to tell all of you that it matters to our leadership and our nation where the carriers are.”
Harris spoke on the rebalance in the Pacific and whether the U.S. Navy presence in the region will increase in the not-so-distant future.
“The rebalance [in the Pacific] is for real,” said Harris. “Everything that is new in the Navy is going to the Pacific. Today, 52 percent of the Navy is in the Pacific, and the percentage will only increase in the future. The most visible component of the rebalance is the military’s presence in the Pacific, specifically that of the Navy’s.”
Harris asked for the crew’s support to help out at the deckplate level with suicide prevention, an issue that is currently impacting command climate Navy-wide.
“I want all of you to think about suicide prevention,” said Harris. “Suicide is a tragedy and it matters. All of you know yourselves and your shipmates better than anyone else, so I ask that you help us all get at this tragedy before it happens.”
Harris also requested support for stopping sexual assault in its tracks and cultivating a safe environment for all Sailors.
“Sexual assault is a stain on our military,” said Harris. “I ask that you all help our leadership, our Navy and each other to get at this problem. Sexual assault is a real problem in our Navy and our military, and I ask for your help.”
After addressing the crew, Harris took questions from the audience, covering topics ranging from naval presence in the Pacific to leadership.
Midshipman 2nd Class Shelby Ramirez, who attends Vanderbilt University and is on board Nimitz for her summer cruise, asked the admiral for tips on becoming a good leader in the fleet.
“The best advice I can give you is to say ‘thank you’ a lot,” said Harris. “Thank the troops who serve you because they will try their best to make you look good. I believe that you can’t thank them enough. You also have to wear your integrity on your sleeve. You have to have conspicuous integrity no matter what, and I think that will carry you a long way.”
Harris concluded with words of inspiration for the crew, and a reassurance that the U.S. Navy presence matters to the country and to the American people.
“Whatever shape the world is taking, I think the United States Navy will have a big part in it,” said Harris. “I think there is need, now more than ever, for the United States Navy. I am proud to be part of this military. I am proud to wear this uniform and I am proud to serve with all of you.”
For Airman Casey Davis, the admiral’s visit and message showed compassion and understanding from naval leadership.
“The admiral taking time to visit is very important,” said Airman Casey Davis. “It means that the U.S. Navy actually cares what we have to say, and they are willing to listen.”
Press Release, May 23, 2014; Image: Wikimedia