NORFOLK, Va.-- (September 14, 2012) (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) held a change-of-command ceremony aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Sept. 14 in port Naval Station Norfolk.
Adm. Bill Gortney relieved Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., as USFF commander in the traditional ceremony in front of hundreds of distinguished guests, shipmates, and crew members.
Harvey, a surface warfare officer and a 1973 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, assumed command of U.S. Fleet Forces in July 2009. In his more than three-year tenure, he led the command with a strategic focus supporting the nation's maritime strategy through operational readiness, training effectiveness, and professional and personal development.
"Today's not about me. It's about us-who we are, what we do, and why we do it," said Harvey. "The power of our Navy is in our people not our platforms. Over the past three years, there's been no shortage of challenges, but because of your hard work and dedication, we had a positive influence on this fleet. Your work ensured we provided a unified voice to our CNO in partnership with our Pacific Fleet counterparts, and I am so proud to have had the privilege of serving with you."
During his distinguished nearly 40 years of naval service as a commissioned officer, Harvey served in a variety of sea and shore billets. He was the Chief of Naval Personnel, and he commanded USS David R. Ray (DD 971), USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Cruiser-Destroyer Group Eight as part of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert served as the event's guest speaker and spoke of the many accomplishments Harvey was responsible for as the fleet commander.
"He's had a steady hand on the tiller for nearly four decades," said Greenert. "He saw the opportunities; he took action; he got results. He made the Fleet tangibly better during his tenure, and he's got us on the right track and speed."
Speaking to all the guests and participants, Harvey thanked everyone who supported the USFF posture to meet global mission requirements.
"I will certainly miss the Navy because of the people I got to work with in the sense of mission," said Harvey. "I did this for 39 ½ years because I loved it, not because I had to."
Gortney, a naval aviator and 1977 graduate of Elon College in N.C., becomes the 32nd commander of USFF. He has served in a variety of command positions afloat and ashore, including most recently as Director, Joint Staff for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command; Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Forces Maritime Component Commanders. He also commanded Carrier Strike Group-10, on the Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.
"I have spent all but six of my 35 years of service in the fleet. It is great to be back in the fleet," said Gortney. "Here at Fleet Forces Command, our missions are few but they could not be more important to our nation. If executed correctly, the overall mission of the command will succeed and most importantly our Sailors and civilians deployed or stationed around the globe will succeed."
Greenert also took the opportunity to discuss the importance of payloads in maintaining an adaptable maritime force.
"Adaptability is the absolute essence of being a Sailor, and we get that adaptability when we think about payload before platform. Replacing platforms is expensive, but when we look at payloads first, payloads that support cutting edge technology it can be a game changer."
Greenert pointed to the Navy's CVNs as an example of maximizing the platforms adaptability through the use of a variety of payloads.
"The CVN is in many ways our most adaptable platform," said Greenert. "You pay once, and you've got a half century of service. Enterprise is 50 years old; she's seen everything from A-4s to F-14s to a variety of F/A-18s, and we can now launch an unmanned strike aircraft from that aircraft carrier. That's the way we need to be thinking."
United States Fleet Forces Command supports both the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and combatant commanders worldwide by providing responsive, relevant, sustainable naval forces ready-for-tasking. The command provides operational and planning support to combatant commanders and integrated warfighter capability requirements to the CNO. Additionally, USFF serves as the CNO's designated executive agent for anti-terrorism/force protection (ATFP), individual augmentees (IA), and sea-basing. In collaboration with U.S. Pacific Fleet, USFF organizes, mans, trains, maintains, and equips Navy forces, develops and submits budgets, and executes readiness and personnel accounts to develop both required and sustainable levels of fleet readiness. Additionally, the command serves as the unified voice for fleet training requirements and policies to generate combat-ready Navy forces.
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