Commander’s Perspective — Deployments, People, Mission

I recently spoke at the graduation ceremony at one of our state maritime academies. One of the things I stressed to the graduates is that this is truly a dynamic time in our maritime industry.  To be relevant and productive in this industry, you must be flexible, adaptable and know how to work in a change environment.


U.S. Navy Sailors attached to Military Sealift Command’s Expeditionary Fast Transport class ship, USNS Spearhead (T-EFP 1), man the rails at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Spearhead pulled into the joint base signifying the completion of a five month deployment in support of Africa Partnership Station 2016.

Throughout your career, you will encounter colleagues who resist, fear or actively work against change. Working outside our comfort zone, however, is the place we all need to be.  This is where many new ideas come from.

If you go about your daily work embracing change and figuring how to be effective in this environment, you will be well positioned for personal and professional success.

This is in line with our Navy’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority. The fourth line of effort, Achieve High Velocity Learning at Every Level, speaks to our role in learning and training, and adopting processes that are innovative and creative.

You have the green light to think outside the box! We need to accelerate the processes that develop imaginative and resourceful ideas.  It’s these new ideas and the implementation of them that will give us the edge over our adversaries.


Last month, our Expeditionary Fast Transport USNS Spearhead returned to Virginia from a four-month deployment to Africa, working in our 6th Fleet area of operations. In addition to participating in multiple exercises, training events, and community relations programs, she conducted real-world counter-piracy operations, intercepting a motor tanker that was hijacked by pirates.  In her third deployment to 6th Fleet, Spearhead and crew provided the tools and training that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the west African nations.  Our EPFs and their crews are proving their value each and every day.

And only a few days later on the opposite coast, our hospital ship USNS Mercy departed for a four-month Pacific Partnership mission. Mercy will visit Timor Leste, Republic of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Republic of Palau and Indonesia.  Her crew will work with partner nations to improve maritime security, conduct humanitarian assistance and strengthen disaster response preparedness.  All this good work will be enabled by our mariners, who maintain, navigate and sail this mighty ship.


I’d like to highlight one of our team members. Mr. Capers Hamilton joined Military Sea Transportation Service (before we became Military Sealift Command) in 1966.  He recently received the 50 years’ service award.  He served on many many ships over his career and currently serves aboard USNS Amelia Earhart as a boatswain’s mate.  He is the quintessential shipmate: loyal, superior attitude and impressive worth ethic.  Thank you for your service to our nation and the example you have set for your fellow teammates.


As we continue through these summer months, remain safe, be vigilant, and stay focused on our mission. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions and look out for your neighbor.

Thank you for all that you do each and every day in service to our Nation, Navy and Military Sealift Command!

Rear Adm. T. K. Shannon, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command

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