Remarks at the christening of USNS Lewis B. Puller

The following blog is excerpted from remarks by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command, at the Feb. 7 christening ceremony for USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3).

The velocity of instability is increasing in our world. The world is becoming more complex, uncertain, and turbulent. Navy forces are more important than ever in building global security, projecting power, deterring foes, and rapidly responding to crisis that affect our national security. To do that we have to be forward, engaged, and ready.

USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3) (Photo courtesy of NASSCO)

USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3) (Photo courtesy of NASSCO)

My friend, Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, Commander of our Naval Surface Forces, who is here with us today, shoulders the responsibility of ensuring our complex combatant and amphibious ships are manned, trained, and equipped for high-end warfare. And Vice Adm. Rowen would tell you that we have driven many of those ships very hard over the last decade. This comes at a cost to the resiliency of our people, sustainability of our equipment, and service lives of our ships.

This ship, Lewis B. Puller, will help our navy tackle the growing workload for decades to come. She will participate in the away game, she will engage with our friends and allies, and from her decks she will employ Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines READY for action. She cannot replace a cruiser, a destroyer, or an amphibious warfare ship, but she can support vital missions, enabling our warships to be re-tasked for our Navy’s more demanding operational missions.

Indeed, General Dunford emphasized in his 2015 Guidance to our Marine Corps the need to augment amphibious warships by adapting other vessels, like this one, for sea based littoral operations.

From her decks can we operate helicopters towing sleds to clear mines? You bet!

From her decks can we successfully conduct an operation against pirates like the Captain Phillips scenario? You bet!

From her decks can we deploy marines or special Ops teams to reinforce a U.S. embassy in danger? You bet!

And if we get after this important work from her decks with only one-tenth of the fighting spirit, courage, and ability of the man Lewis B. Puller, our country will be in pretty damn good shape.

There will always be instability in our world, budget uncertainty, politics, and an evolving strategy. But today, make no mistake, we must coach the team we have. We are fortunate to have Lewis B. Puller join our starting lineup.

Our ship’s first master, Captain Jonathan Olmsted, is no stranger to command at sea. In 19 years of service to Military Sealift Command, he has commanded 14 of our ships. Thank you captain, and our Chief Engineer David Every, and our mariners for stepping up to the plate for our nation.

I also must mention the Captain’s parents, Beverley and Charlie. Thank you for raising such a fine son who has dedicated his working life to serving our nation.

Mrs. Martha Puller-Downs, thank you. You honor us today with your father’s spirit and we invite you to remain an active part of our ship’s life for many years to come. You are always welcome on board!

May God Bless this ship and all who sail in her.

Thank you!

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