08 September 2010

Baltimore Navy Week


Navy Weeks are one of the ways we reach out to communities to educate, increase awareness and show the taxpayers the return on the investment they make in their Navy. It is also a time for our Sailors to get back to their hometowns to participate in community events and share their own personal stories of service to our nation.

Last week was Navy Week in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland and our Navy was on full display for the city. The week began when our Sailors from the USS CONSTITUTION, dressed in their 1813-period uniforms, simulated the firing of one of her 6,000 pound guns. It was quite a sight from the inner harbor with the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND and USS MONSOON in port and providing free tours to local residents. We also had the crew of USS MARYLAND, USNS COMFORT, CBMU 202 Seabees, and our Navy Band in town. There was certainly no shortage of activities for the public and our Sailors to enjoy.
I personally had the opportunity to attend several events that I thought would be of interest to you.
The first is my visit to observe a demostration of the AAI/MAPC project called the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle. The CUSV is an unmanned vessel designed and built to conduct critical Navy missions such as Mine Warfare in the Littorals. Mine warfare is a critical mission area for us right now and we need to do a great deal to keep up with the operational challenges we face today.
I was impressed by what I saw at the demonstration and look forward to getting the CUSV into future exercises to test the operational effectiveness and fully unlock the capabilities of this new technology. That will be an important step as we start the much-needed feedback loop to ensure we’re providing our Sailors with the right tools to get the job done. And after meeting with the AAI staff, I am very confident they understand the importance of delivering relevant technologies that work.

My next visit was to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. The Executive Director of the museum, Dr. David Terry, gave me a fascinating tour of the museum and its exhibitions followed by a lunch where we discussed the importance of a strong and diverse Navy. Dr. Terry also informed me that in 2013 the museum will host the military exhibition For Race and Country: African Americans and the Military Experience from Freedom to Integration. I look forward to the exhibition as I believe it is important that we continue to recognize and preserve the experiences – struggles and triumphs – of our service members from all backgrounds throughout our history. And the Reginald F. Lewis museum is doing just that and in the process providing an exceptional service to their community, our current and past service members, and our nation.

I also had the opportunity to visit UMBC and spend time with the college President Freeman Hrabowski and his leadership team. What Dr. Hrabowski has done with the college is nothing short of amazing. UMBC is ranked at the top among the up-and-coming national universities and the UMBC Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program is the driving force behind that success. They are producing top-quality graduates from STEM programs in technical areas of critical importance to our Navy such as engineering and Cybersecurity. Dr. Hrabowski and his team are very eager to broaden and deepen their relationship with our Navy and after having seen the great work his team has done there, I am convinced that a strong partnership and access to the extraordinary array of talent at UMBC is the way to go. I look forward to seeing our Navy make the most of this opportunity.

The final event that I want to highlight is my visit to Johns Hopkins Hospital where I took part in a lunch, an extensive panel discussion and was provided a tour of the hospital Emergency Department. Johns Hopkins has a special relationship with our military that dates back to the early 20th century. In fact, I was not surprised to learn their medical teams were working in dedicated Army field hospitals as far back as World War I – this is their business and they are the best at it.
Today, Johns Hopkins medical teams are working in 21st century field hospitals aboard our ships in support of humanitarian efforts such as Continuing Promise 2010 in the southern hemisphere and Operation Unified Response in Haiti. The medical staffs of Johns Hopkins are professional in every sense of the word and I was deeply moved by all the things they are doing to help so many people around the world – from providing exceptional healthcare to our military families to literally transforming medical education through the “Genes to Society” curriculum. I mean it when I say that brilliance underlines everything they do at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Our Navy is fortunate to have such a strong relationship with this extraordinary institution.

All said, it was a productive week and I left Baltimore impressed and inspired by the great work so many organizations are doing for and with our Navy, every day.
Thanks again to our hosts and our Sailors for their strong display of pride and ownership for our Navy and our nation.
All the best, JCHjr

No comments: