Thank you, Admiral Chatfield and David. To the Naval leaders and spouses from around the world and the United States … faculty and staff of the Naval War College … ladies and gentlemen gathered here today… on behalf of the United States Navy … my wife, Linda, and I welcome all of you to the 24th International Seapower Symposium.
A special thank you as well to our Commandant of our Coast Guard … Adm. Schultz if you could please stand so everyone can see you. He’s a very close friend, a partner, it’s great to have you here this week Carl.
A special thank you as well to the Chief of the Italian Navy Adm. Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, who agreed to shift his symposium to the right so we could have our symposium this year. As most of you know, this symposium was supposed to happen a year ago, but because of Covid, pre-vaccine, we could not. On a phone call, I asked if he [Dragone] would considered moving his conference to the right. He never flinched and he never hesitated, he did that. So on behalf of all of us, thank you.
This event is truly special. 135 delegates from 104 different nations… including many Heads of Navy and Coast Guards … are gathered here and virtually … to discuss, to debate, to learn … and of course, to work together.
I also want to welcome and recognize their spouses. Sixty-six of them have joined us from all corners of the globe, as well as nearly 20 spouses from the United States. Our international maritime coalition is a family and we all serve as families … thank you all for tirelessly supporting our Sailors serving around the world. And we look forward to visiting with you all this week.
We are grateful that so many of you overcame the logistics challenges to be here with us today … and be assured, we are taking every precaution with our COVID-19 mitigation efforts … so that we can safely conduct these proceedings in person.
Before I move on with the rest of my remarks … I’d like to invite my wife, Linda, to the podium to say a few words (Mrs. Gilday gives remarks).
We know many of you have visited Newport before … and I would like to welcome back the International Alumni who called this charming city home. For those of you who are traveling here for the first time … we think you are in for a treat.
When you walk along the wharfs and docks in downtown Newport … or stand in Fort Adams State Park … you get the sensation you are traveling back in time. So much of the art, architecture, and culture around here reflects America’s rich and distinct maritime history. A history that dates back to colonial times … and continues very strong and vibrant today.
This city has long been intertwined with the United States Navy. Some of the most important ideas concerning naval tactics, warfare, and strategy were born right here … on these grounds, on Coasters’ Harbor Island … ideas that were put into action from the late 19th century and beyond.
Perhaps most famous of all the contributions, no doubt, was Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan and his lectures and writing in the 1880s and early 1890s.
Nearly all of us have studied Mahan’s work at one time or another … and when his name is uttered, most people think of decisive battle … sea control … and of combat credibility.
I think many of those arguments are still relevant today.
But over time … Mahan refined the rationale for sea power. Naval combat power became less pronounced and economics took a more central role.
Mahan believed that one of the fundamental applications of naval power was to protect an increasingly globalized world economy. You see, wealth generation comes from commerce … and commerce … floats on seawater.
What was theory then … during the height of the second Industrial Revolution … is profoundly true today in our Information Age. Our economies, our values, and our cultures are more attached to the sea than any point in history.
There are more than 60,000 vessels in the world’s trading fleet … carrying all the solids, liquids, and gasses that we need to feed us, clothe us, fuel us, and to sustain us.
If you have sailed in the Baltics … or up in the North Sea … you have seen the massive installations of offshore wind energy. Today … there are more than 160 offshore wind farms worldwide … powering millions of homes and businesses.
If you have sailed in the Arabian Gulf … you have passed de-salinization plants, of which there are 20,000 around the world, providing fresh water for hundreds of millions of people.
If you’ve sailed in the western Pacific … you have likely seen ships engaged in the “new global gold rush” of deep sea mining ... working to extract metals critical for advanced technologies.
And if you have pulled into the largest ports around the world … you have seen the new containerships … spanning nearly 400 meters long and holding over 20,000 boxes.
Providing a safe, secure, and stable maritime system is an imperative to all of mankind … and it is an essential part of what our navies do every day. We are not simply the “keeper of the seas” … but the “keeper of the global way of life” as well.
And like all of you … I believe that robust, resilient, and responsible sea power is an international consortium of like-minded nations. WE are the primary guarantors of peace, prosperity, and the open flow of goods along the oceans.
Our navies provide these benefits to the citizens we serve every day … in peacetime and especially during these times of competition … not just in rare moments of conflict.
As Sailors and Coastguardsmen… we share a common culture … a distinct, maritime culture. We share the history, the love, and the respect for what the sea can do for us … as well as a mutual appreciation for what the sea can provide for us.
During the dark days of World War II … hundreds of delegates from around the world met not far from here, at Bretton Woods … and set out to form the rules for economic relations among nations.
In time … what emerged was the free and open international order that we cherish and benefit from today. It preserves the maritime commons for freedom and fairness … for coexistence and for harmony … where the collective goals of all people – regardless of where they call home – can be advanced.
Since 1945… global child mortality has waned … life expectancy has lengthened … extreme poverty has plummeted … and literacy has skyrocketed.
The connection between the free and open order … and the improvement of human existence … is undeniable. United … we have preserved that commitment. United … I think we will grow that commitment.
Cooperation will ensure that our most vital economic and social resource … seawater … is shared sustainably and responsibly. Cooperation … when applied with naval power … promotes freedom and peace … and prevents coercion, intimidation, and aggression.
Our steady presence “greases the gears” of global commerce … assuring maritime traffic flows freely ... and deters disruption of our digital infrastructure under the sea.
Every day … our Sailors send a “bow wave” of diplomacy in front of their path … assuring our allies, partners, and friends … and deterring malign behavior that threatens the international order that is so important.
Since it is in the political, social, and economic interests of all of us to ensure the freedom of the seas … this is a responsibility with truly global consequences, not just for today, but for our children and their children. It cannot be taken for granted ... peace does not happen by accident.
When the rules prevail, everyone prospers. When the rules are undermined … or worse, broken altogether … the world is a less secure and poorer place for all of us.
The questions we gather to discuss this week are as important as any in our profession … and so we have structured I-S-S to take on these issues and capitalize on opportunities. Our keynote speakers and moderated panel discussions bring together experts in uniform, in academia, and in government.
The selected topics cover a wide range of challenges. Some of them are affecting us today … such as combatting COVID-19 and supporting the mental health of our Sailors and Coastguardsmen. Other topics consider our collective concerns in the Arctic and enforcing international and sovereign rules and regulations … which will undeniably affect our future.
My goal is that this symposium will provide a venue for candid and open discussion … to see issues from different perspectives … and to harness our “strength in unity.”
Our collective Navy-to-Navy and Coast Guard-to-Coast Guard relationships serve as a strong and stable keel for the broader international community. This keel serves as a shock absorber … and in turn … provides the underlying structure for global stability.
We are united by the ironclad trust among us … and our partnerships transcend beyond just our strategic interests. It is built on shared values, shared history, and a vision of a shared destiny.
A few months ago … I had the opportunity to speak with one of our Sailors up on the International Space Station … where he was serving alongside with cosmonauts from Russia … and an astronaut from Japan.
He captured so clearly the bond of his fellow “star sailors” as they live for months off of the Earth.
And he so eloquently described that our “giant blue marble” of a planet has no lines to separate our people … and it is dominated by the blue hue of our oceans.
So I’d like to begin I-S-S with that mental image … of a Blue world … where commerce and ideas flow freely across open seas to connect our nations in bonds of fellowship … and Sailors and Coast Guardsmen like ourselves stand watch to keep it so.
Now it gives me great pleasure to introduce our 78th Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Carlos Del Toro and his wife Betty. (SECNAV)… who was sworn in a little over one month ago.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Secretary Del Toro immigrated to the U.S. with his family as refugees in 1962.
Raised in New York City, he graduated from our United States Naval Academy in 1983 and would later go on to study here as well. A career Surface Warfare Officer, he commanded the guided-missile destroyer, USS Bulkeley, and served in a variety of critical assignments in the Pentagon and Washington, D.C.
After retiring from active duty, he worked in the private finance sector as CEO and president, along with his wife, Betty, of SBG Technology Solutions.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming my boss, a man who oversees, manages, and leads the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps ... the 78th Secretary of the United States Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro. Mr. Secretary...
Adm. Mike Gilday
15 September 2021
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