Visit to Area Commands and MSC Offices

From Commander, Military Sealift Command

Visit to Area Commands and MSC Offices

Last week I returned from a trip visiting our Area Commands in Naples, Bahrain, and Singapore, and our MSC staff in Guam. Accompanied by our Executive Director and senior legal counsel, we met with our forward-deployed Mariners and staff, and talked with senior Navy leaders in the regions about the work we are doing at MSC.

First, I want to share with you that in my meetings with Navy leaders, including the Commanders of both U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets, they all told me how important the work we do at MSC is in supporting their mission.  It was clear to me from these discussions that our work is appreciated and valued by our many customers and that what we do enables our Navy to maintain a continuous forward presence in each of the regions.

Second, we visited ships and crews including USNS Mount Whitney, USNS Kanawha, USNS Matthew Peary, USNS Choctaw County, USNS Catawba, USNS Invincible, USNS Bruce C. Heezen, USNS Henson, USNS Millinocket, USNS Fall River, USNS LT John P. Bobo, USS Emory S. Land and USS Frank Cable. It was important that we visited as many ships and crews as possible to listen to the concerns of Mariners and to update them about today’s challenging maritime and the requirement to adapt in order to ensure that we can provide essential assured logistics and service support to the warfighter in the future.

Some of the topic areas we discussed with both Mariners and Area Command staffs included:

– Navy’s Comprehensive Review: we will take the findings from the review and our recent operational pause, and use them to improve our operations;

– “Bending the Curve:” while we are the best in the world at delivering maritime logistics today, we are instituting a number of actions to better prepare our efforts to lessen the risk to sealift and adapt to the changing environment in which we operate. We discussed how this is going to require that we learn faster, even exponentially;

– Crew manning and rotations: we exchanged ideas for improving the crewing process to better meet mission requirements and Mariner quality of life measures;

– The Navy the Nation Needs: we reviewed how the Navy’s strategy is the maritime expression of National Defense Strategy, and that MSC and our Mariners play an integral role in the balanced approach to building a bigger fleet, a better fleet, a networked fleet, a talented fleet, an agile fleet and a ready fleet that will increase American naval power; and

– Leadership Promotion Board: we found that the present process, while sufficient, could be improved with additional formality and rigor, and a more formal approach to selecting the best and fully qualified maritime officers will benefit applicants for our critical Master Mariners and Chief Engineer positions.

One of my take-aways from the ship visits is that good communication is vital to the success of our organization. And everyone, from the longest serving MSC employee to the most recent new-join, should feel empowered to communicate problems, concerns and innovative ideas to rest of the team.

I’ll close by extending my profound gratitude to ship Masters, Chief Engineers, Mariners and MSC staff who facilitated our trip and provided considerate and relevant feedback during our discussions.

Thank you for all the work you do each and every day.

United We Sail,

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command


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