MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The crew of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) was named as a winner of a Defense Department-wide Maintenance Excellence Award, Sept. 9.
The annual Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards Program recognizes the Department of Defense's most outstanding field-level and depot-level military maintenance units from a competitive field of candidates. Gettysburg was one of just two Navy commands selected for the award, capturing the field-level medium category for the 2014 fiscal year competitive cycle.
"It is always a huge honor to be selected for an award like this, at any level. It would have been absolutely impossible without the amazing folks we have onboard right now doing maintenance," said Capt. John Schmidt, commanding officer aboard Gettysburg, "I could not be more proud of my crew and the hard work they've put into maintaining this warship, even through often difficult circumstances."
Throughout fiscal year 2014, the ship was deployed for a total of 190 days, with 157 days underway. Their operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility included acting as air and missile defense commander for the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, joint exercises with the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle, as well as the rescue of multiple stranded mariners. After returning from deployment they remained highly operational, responding to anti-submarine warfare tasking in the Atlantic Ocean and taking part in a fleet exercise with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.
Despite the high operational tempo and more time away from homeport than any other ship during this period, Gettysburg sustained near perfect material readiness.
"Gettysburg's Sailors take whatever we throw at them with a smile and still ask for more," said Lt. Cmdr Chad Marsh, Gettysburg's chief engineer, "With each new challenge I am amazed by the level of technical expertise, professionalism, and enthusiasm that our maintenance men and women attack their work with. Whether constrained by time or circumstance, there is never a doubt in my mind that this crew is getting the maintenance done properly and will keep Gettysburg ready to answer all bells and finish the fight."
While at the height of her operational status, Gettysburg operated eighteen months without a main propulsion casualty, earned recognition on the Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic's "SPY Radar Honor Roll" fourteen months straight, retained a 95 percent calibration readiness rating, and passed her bi-annual Planned Maintenance System Assessment with a 91.36 percent.
According to Schmidt, what was most unusual was the ship's level of readiness compared to her age.
"This is a twenty-four year-old ship that
performed like she was brand-new throughout the award period. There's really only one explanation for that: it's the extraordinary Sailors who take pride in and call this ship home," said Schmidt.
Gettysburg, along with other winning units, will be formally presented with their award Dec. 8 during the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards Ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona. The highlight of this event will be the announcement of the Phoenix Award, which goes to the very best maintenance unit from the field-level awards winners.
Gettysburg, homeported in Mayport, Florida, is currently undergoing preparations for induction into the Navy's Cruiser Modernization program.
For more news from USS Gettysburg (CG 64), visit www.navy.mil/local/cg64/.