Atlantic Ocean (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens spent Thanksgiving with Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and the destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84).
CNO and MCPON conducted an all-hands call over the shipboard information, training, and information television (SITE TV), frocked the crew's newly advanced Sailors and served Thanksgiving dinner on the mess decks.
Richardson said Thanksgiving is an important time to think of those who are spending the holidays deployed, separated from family and friends, to support the operations that keep America safe.
"We've all been there and know those mixed feelings of pride at accomplishing the mission, but also missing our loved ones while deployed during this time," said Richardson in his Thanksgiving message. "For those at home, please keep these shipmates in your thoughts and prayers. If you're forward, reach out, be good company for each other, and wish your shipmate a Happy Thanksgiving."
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) deployed, Nov. 16, to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation.
Maritime security operations set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. The operations also deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to illegally transport personnel, weapons or other material.
Richardson and Stevens expressed their appreciation for the Sailors embarked with the HSTCSG and stressed the importance of the mission ahead.
"As you go forward into a complex, complicated environment, I have complete faith that the Harry S. Truman Strike Group is ready in every aspect," said Richardson. "You proved during COMPTUEX that you are well trained. You're well equipped, and I know you will return stronger than when you left."
CNO and MCPON also frocked Truman's 352 newly advanced Sailors and reenlisted several Sailors aboard Bulkeley.
"I was always taught that Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings," said Electrician's Mate 1st Class M. Reiner, who was frocked in the event aboard Truman. "Having your hard work and diligence pay off through advancement is definitely a blessing, but having the CNO and MCPON participate in the ceremony was icing on the cake. Today has definitely been one of those once-in-a-lifetime days in my Navy career that I won't forget."
Following the ceremony, Richardson and Stevens helped Truman's Supply department carve and serve more than 3,500 pounds of Thanksgiving turkey before eating dinner with the crew.
"This is my sixth consecutive Thanksgiving spent at sea," said Stevens. "It can be difficult being away from family, but there is nowhere I'd rather be for the holiday than with my shipmates. My wife and I agree, as long as I'm active duty, I belong here with the Sailors."
CNO's full Thanksgiving message to the Fleet is available here: