NORFOLK (NNS) -- Vice Adm. Rich Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces (CNSF) and commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP), met with waterfront leadership in Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida to discuss surface warfare, warfighting and his command philosophy.
Brown met with major commanders and commanding officers of Norfolk and Mayport-based ships, as well as leadership from Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2; Naval Surface Squadron 14; and Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, Rear Adm. Jesse A. Wilson Jr.
This was the first opportunity for Brown to have a face-to-face dialogue with local, mid-Atlantic commanders since he assumed command, Jan. 18. He is traveling to share his vision, command philosophy and to address the recommendations of the recent Strategic Readiness Review and Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents.
During his visit to Norfolk Naval Station, March 5, and to Mayport Naval Station, March 9, Brown shared his assessment of the surface force and talked about how to remain "the best, the fastest, the toughest and the smartest Naval Surface Force" in the world.
He did not mince words in reaffirming the extraordinary trust and responsibility of commanding officers (CO) and their importance to the Navy the nation needs.
"We have 65 destroyers. That means 65 men and women out of 330 million Americans get to command an AEGIS destroyer. Eleven Americans get to command an amphibious transport dock ship every year. That is incredible. That is how special this is." He added, "The standards we accept as commanding officers are what determine the effectiveness of the ship...as the CO goes, so goes the ship."
Throughout his engagements, he placed great emphasis on every Sailor not only knowing his or her job, but also knowing their boss's job.
"You will see in my command philosophy that I place the professional development of our shipmates as a leadership priority. A crew that is well trained, educated and qualified is a crew that knows their ship and her capabilities," stated Brown.
Brown cited history, describing the surface Navy-centric campaign to hold Guadalcanal, to underscore, in no uncertain terms, the importance of a well-trained fleet.
"The average engagement range was about 3,500 yards; absolutely gruesome combat," said Brown. "What would typically happen was the CO was killed, the executive officer was killed, and the senior engineer was killed. But what happened? Did we turn around and go to port? No. We had quartermaster 3rd classes taking command of the pilot house. We had ensigns and lieutenant junior grades in gun mounts taking local control and continuing to fight; junior engineers taking over engineering plants and getting them back online. We continued the fight."
He also emphasized that the application of risk management must be at the forefront of everything we do in the surface force. Acknowledging the fact that going to sea in ships is inherently dangerous, he noted that nothing short of combat operations should force us to put a shipmate's life in danger.
Talking with area commanding officers, Brown explained his responsibility to the surface force is to make sure they all have everything they need to successfully command their ships and that when called upon, will achieve decisive victory at sea and own the fight.
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