21 July 2010



On Monday I had the opportunity to visit some of our Sailors and participate in some events that I want to share with you.

My first visit was to the USS TEMPEST (PC-2), a Cyclone-class patrol coastal ship that is preparing to deploy this November.  I was given a thorough tour of the ship and spent valuable time talking with her crew. We had very interesting discussions about the different techniques they are using to preserve topside weapons, as well as training requirements for the entire ship. She’s a smaller ship with a small crew, but her twenty-four Sailors and four officers must meet the same training and certification requirements of much larger ships. I am very interested in learning more about how PC crews manage to get it all done as I see a lot of similarities with LCS and believe there are a lot of lessons we can learn from as we begin introducing LCS to the Fleet.

Just last week TEMPEST was in the news when she rescued five of eight occupants from the water (Coast Guard rescued the other three) after their 41-foot sport-fisher sank 10 miles off the coast of Cape Lookout.
She has a very proud crew led by a very proud CO and CMC. Thanks again for a useful and informative visit.

The second visit of the day was to Riverine Group 1 (RIVGRU 1) and was particularly useful for a few reasons. First, I rode along on one of our Riverine Command Boats (RCB) while it conducted exercises in conjunction with our Riverine Assault Boats (RAB). Some of the high-speed maneuvers demonstrated were 180 degree turns called J-Turns and E-stops (emergency stops from all ahead to a full stop.) These boats can go from 40+ knots to dead in the water in only two boat lengths. The crew also demonstrated their maneuverability in confined areas (rivers) by conducting full turns with no headway (spinning). One of my staff was told that being in the back of an RCB was akin to being inside a washing machine. I found the crews to be very well-trained and, much like the TEMPEST Sailors, a very proud bunch.
During my visit to RIVGRU 1, I had the honor of presenting the Purple Heart to Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SW) Michael Finch, of Riverine Squadron 1, for wounds sustained in action in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). GM2 Finch was in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle that was hit by an IED as it was returning from a mission. He suffered severe wounds to his right hand that will require an extensive recovery period but I was struck by his overwhelming motivation to return to his unit and get back into the fight. GM2 Finch represents the many exceptional Sailors that are out there putting their lives on the line for us everyday.

Finally, I had the great pleasure and honor of presenting the Sailors and Civilians of the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) with the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) medal for exceptional meritorious service from 2006 to 2008. It takes a very special group of people for a command to receive the NUC. The accomplishments of NECC over the past four years have been nothing short of extraordinary. From putting Sailors on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq to providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief on a moments notice to Haiti, they do it all, and they do it with great pride. I am very proud of our NECC team – Sailors, Civilians and Contractors – that make it all possible. Congratulations once again.
All the best, JCHjr


NVYGUNZ said...


Great commentary from your visits. I hope the TEMPEST Commanding Officer was able to share some of the struggles of completing the training requirements with a smaller crew - smaller ship. I served on MCMs in the past, and they are similar in that they have a small crew as well. I could go on for hours on how difficult it can be. But you're right, requirements are very similar regardless of ship size. However, we all get through it one way or another. I will briefly say three things though:

-One, everyone (and I mean everyone) has to be engaged. You have no depth, so cannot afford to have folks off the ship, at appts, on leave etc, during crucial inspections. Or miss UW periods. The leadership really needs to lead and manage the crew. No room for slippage... Sure LCS & PCs can attest.

-Second, everyone must do things outside their comfort zone. For example, on the MCM Crew I served, at one point, all of our crew served weapons were manned by supply and admin. Yes uncommon, but achievable. Just takes more training and trust.

- Lastly, but debatable, you do not typically achieve the same scores as - say a DDG. You usually have to settle for much lower (but passing) scores. When I was on a DDG, it wasn't uncommon to score very high. On an MCM however, you're happy to just pass and get through it. It is also not uncommon to fail early looks. Sure you're familiar with many of the INSURV score in the mid-2000's. Definitely not for a lack of trying though. "Iron Men, Wooden Ships" is not just a bumper sticker.

I'd be more than happy to discuss over a coffee or beer one day. :) Again, thank you for all you do Sir!


ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

NVYGUNZ, TEMPEST's CO made exactly the points to me that you made in your comment wrt the requirement for all hands to be deeply involved in activities well outside their particular rate/rating and comfort zones.
Much more to follow as we get into lessons-learned from FREEDOM's first deployment. All the best, JCHjr

Anonymous said...


Why does it take so long for ship awards to be awarded? How many people present at the award ceremony were at NECC for the time period in question? What percentage of the sailors in the audience were not at the command? What about BAINBRIDGE, over a year since rescuing Capt Phillips. What about ANZIO? Whay about VELLA GULF? Why is the Navy satisfied with a two year gap between "event" and award?