Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite visited Sailors, Marines and Department of the Navy civilians throughout Navy Region Southeast Aug. 10-11.
During his trip to Naval Submarine Base (NSB) Kings Bay, Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, and Naval Station (NS) Mayport the secretary toured a number of surface, subsurface and aviation assets vital to naval operations at home and abroad.
“The strategic importance of this geographic region and its naval capabilities are of vital importance to not only the Navy, but to our country’s national security,” said Braithwaite. “The entire Navy and Marine Corps team here is extremely impressive in their dedication to service above self. Everyone who I had the opportunity to interact with personifies that in a most outstanding way."
Home to nearly 9,000 personnel, the secretary began his visit to NSB Kings Bay with tours of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740), the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728), and the Trident Refit Facility, where Trident submarines are maintained, repaired and upgraded. Secretary Braithwaite also met with Marines and Sailors assigned to the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion during a tour of the Waterfront Security Force Facility.
“It was great to have the chance to meet and have lunch with the secretary,” said Culinary Specialist (Submarines) 1st Class Adelico Duran. “It was clear from our conversations that he cares about spending time with and listening to Sailors.”
The secretary then visited NAS Jacksonville which is the largest installation in the Navy Region Southeast enterprise and home to more than 100 tenant commands and approximately 21,000 military, civilian and contract employees. As a master air and industrial base, NAS Jacksonville supports U.S. and allied forces specializing in anti-submarine warfare and training of the best aviators in the world.
At NAS Jacksonville, Secretary Braithwaite met with leadership from the first Triton Unmanned Air System (UAS) squadron, Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, which is currently operating two MQ-4C Triton UAS in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
Capt. Matt Pottenburgh, commander, Patrol & Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11, Cmdr. Michael Minervini, commanding officer of VUP-19 and squadron operators briefed the secretary on the capabilities of the MQ-4C Triton UAS and its ability to complement the P-8A Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft in the maritime and littoral battlespace.
“The MQ-4C Triton is the first high-altitude, long endurance aircraft that can conduct persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions to complement the P-8A in the maritime domain,” said Pottenburgh. “It is actively conducting missions that are complementing the P-8A Poseidon.”
“Triton presents a new, complex problem set for our adversaries. This platform’s endurance combined with a complex sensor suite provides our Fleet and Combatant Commanders with unparalleled intelligence and battlespace awareness,” Minervini added. “Our officers, chief petty officers, and Sailors are experienced fleet operators and maintainers. They are experts and pioneers of unmanned Naval Aviation.”
Secretary Braithwaite wrapped up his visit to Region Southeast with a tour of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) training facility on board NS Mayport. He then met with Sailors and leadership aboard the Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64).
“Having the secretary take time out of his busy schedule to talk with deckplate Sailors was exceptional and speaks volumes about his leadership,” said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Melinda Greene. “It gives us an opportunity to raise questions about issues we may be having and even provide solutions. Our Navy has some of the most innovative thinkers, and to be able to share those ideas with great leaders such as the Secretary of the Navy makes a world of difference. Raising awareness to the bigger picture issues such as diversity, education, and opportunity to excel in our careers spoke volumes of his agenda and left a lasting impact on the Sailors here.”
Rear Adm. Gary Mayes, 41st commander, Navy Region Southeast emphasized the installation’s support for their tenant commands.
“We are excited to have Secretary Braithwaite visit the Southeast and the opportunity to display the capabilities and dedication of our installation teams. We take great pride in our ability to provide the infrastructure, first-class facilities, personnel support and materials to our operational partners - on-time, within budget and without fail,” Mayes said.
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