USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus visited aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in the Arabian Sea Aug. 6-7, as the carrier continued its 25th and final deployment.
Enterprise Sailors and Marines, currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, used this opportunity to welcome Mabus to the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Following his arrival on the carrier's flight deck, Mabus was greeted by Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter, commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (ENTCSG) and Capt. William C. Hamilton, Jr., Enterprise's commanding officer.
Mabus was then escorted to the ship's navigation bridge and primary flight control before moving to the hangar bay where he addressed more than 3,000 Sailors and Marines gathered for an all-hands call.
"I'm happy to be here with you all," said Mabus as he addressed Big E's crew. "I'm happy to be here on this historic ship, on its historic last voyage."
During his address, Mabus thanked the crewmembers for their service and told them that he understands that what they do is not easy.
"The Navy and Marines are America's 'away team,'" said Mabus. "The people at home never know just how skilled you are. They never see what it takes to do what you do and put on that uniform on a daily basis. On their behalf, I want to say 'thank you.'"
Mabus continued his expression of gratitude, saying, "I know that this ship and all of our ships have had an incredibly high operational tempo. I understand the stress that it puts on your families. The importance of what you all are doing for America cannot be overstated."
He also spoke of how the Navy's role in maritime combat operations will change in the future.
"We're going to build the fleet," said Mabus. "We are going to begin to use ships differently. We are growing the fleet to meet the new responsibilities of the new national defense strategy that the president announced in January."
During the event Mabus also presided over the reenlistment of 32 Sailors and Marines and presented awards to members of the Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 team.
"The United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps are the finest expeditionary fighting force that the world has ever known," Mabus told the crew. "You are making part of the history of not only this Enterprise, but of all of the Enterprises that have sailed on behalf of our Navy and our nation."
After concluding his remarks, Mabus answered questions from the crew of the Big E and CVW-1 and posed for photos with those gathered in the hangar bay before heading to dinner with members of the enlisted crew on the carrier's mess decks.
Following dinner, Mabus was escorted on a tour of the legendary ship, visiting, among other areas, Medical department spaces, a weapons magazine, the combat direction center, carrier air traffic control center, a squadron ready room and the machinery repair shop. He was also able to observe flight operations from the flight deck, both in daylight and after sunset.
Enterprise is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security operation efforts and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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