NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY, Bahrain (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations visited Naval Support Activity Bahrain and tenant commands within the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) to view operations and manpower, host an all hands meeting, and conduct port inspections.
Adm. Mark Ferguson stressed the importance of adaptability and flexibility for the 21st century. He also highlighted the need for continual readiness while maintaining training, manning and retention. He personally thanked deployed Sailors and expressed the continued commitment of the U.S. to regional partners and allies.
"I wanted to talk to the Sailors about how important their service is for the defense of the region, how they are deterring aggression, reassuring our allies and demonstrating the capability of the U.S. Navy," said Ferguson.
"What's really impressed me has been the great enthusiasm of each of the Sailors and their focus, because they know their mission and are well trained."
Traveling with Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW/SCW) Scott Benning, the VCNO's saw firsthand the tools necessary to succeed in a global environment.
"Today's Sailors are the best trained and most dedicated men and women to wear the uniform," said Benning. "Everywhere I go around the world, I'm in awe of the Sailors in our Navy today. They are dedicated, devoted and determined to get the job done under any circumstances."
Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class (AW) Loni Brannon, said she enjoyed the visit because many issues important to Sailors were addressed, including how personnel and manpower considerations will be addressed in the future.
Ferguson focused on the enlisted retention boards (ERB), perform to serve (PTS), and discussed how Sailors can remain successful in their vocational pursuits in the Navy.
"The visit was important because he let us know what was going on in the fleet. He said 'Big Navy' is looking out for us and is here to support us, which is good to hear," said Brannon. "We are here to fight for our freedom and the visit highlights this is what we do."
Ferguson also visited several minesweepers and patrol craft moored in the port of Bahrain. Both platforms are essential to ongoing operations within the 5th Fleet AOR.
"We are at a critical junction in this region and it's important that our Sailors understand they have support back in the United States," he said. "If you look to our future, we are going to operate more in the Middle East and the Pacific."
He said in five years, the Navy will be about the same size it is right now, about 285 ships. However, the mixture will change to more combat and forward-stationed ships.
He also emphasized the Navy will continue to operate within the Chief of Naval Operations' core tenants: war-fighting first, operate forward and being ready, and that a concentrated effort is being placed on naval presence.
"I want to thank the Sailors for their professionalism; I want to thank their families for their support," Ferguson said. "At the very highest levels of the Navy, we are focused on their readiness and preparation. It's our job to ensure they have the tools they need to do their jobs, and that is why I personally came out here, to look them in the eye. They are ready to go."
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