USS VELLA GULF, At Sea (NNS) -- The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) was awarded the 2008 Unit Tactics Award March 13.
The Unit Tactics Award is an annual award presented by Commander, Naval Surface Forces to a single ship in each squadron or group for exceptional performance in the areas of tactics proficiency, preparedness and training.
Vella Gulf's Commanding Officer Capt. Mark D. Genung discussed some of the key areas that guided Vella Gulf to their selection as the winner of the Unit Tactics Award.
"In early 2008, we left British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) systems shipyard after conducting a five-month availability that was originally scheduled for two-and-a half- months," said Genung. "We had to quickly certify in virtually all warfare areas, with 13 less weeks than originally planned prior to entering the yards. Additionally, we were selected to be the Sea Combat Commander (SCC) for the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG).
"In the spring and summer of 2008, we executed our certifications, including engineering operational certification (EOC), on our first attempt and rapidly gained proficiency as SCC to the level that we were recognized by Commander, Surface Forces Atlantic (CSFTL) as being the best guided-missile cruiser SCC they had ever observed," continued Genung. "Additionally, while conducting a battle problem during Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), Vella Gulf assumed responsibilities as the alternate Combat Warfare Commander for more than 20 hours without the ARG missing a beat."
Vella Gulf's Sailors credit their success and achievement to the ship's dedicated leadership.
"The commanding officer made us believe in ourselves and led us to greatness," said Command Master Chief, Susan A. Whitman.
In addition to Vella Gulf receiving the unit award, Vella Gulf boasted winners in the individual categories with the 2008 Junior Officer Award for Excellence in Tactics going to Vella Gulf's fire control officer, Lt. j.g. Darren Davis and the 2008 Junior Officer Award for Excellence in Shiphandling awarded to the ship's strike officer, Lt. j.g. Lynnwood Smith.
Vella Gulf is part of the Iwo Jima ESG which deployed in support of maritime security operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seeks to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
For more news from Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/iwoesg/.