PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson visited amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) to meet with shipboard and embarked leadership, speak with Sailors and Marines, and tour the ship's spaces, July 15. Richardson's visit coincided with this year's Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
Once aboard, the Navy's top officer addressed the crew on the ship's 1MC announcement system.
"To everyone on board, congratulations. Welcome to the 2016 RIMPAC exercise," said Richardson. "This is the largest maritime exercise of its kind in the world; the biggest, the most complex. Sounds like [USS America is] off to an absolutely sprinting start... This is an extremely important part of the world right now and you are right in the center of gravity."
During his visit, Richardson took the time to reenlist and promote Sailors previously selected through the Navy's meritorious advancement program.
"There is nothing that gives me more chills or makes me more proud than to see our Sailors renew their commitment to our Navy and our nation either through a reenlistment or through an advancement," said Richardson. "It's just one small symbol of what makes our Navy the greatest Navy in the world and that power extends by us working with our multi-national partners and allies."
The Sailors who were able to reaffirm their oath to serve and defend the country said they were excited and thankful for the unique opportunity.
"I felt honored that he reenlisted me," said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Clayton Davis. "I wasn't going to reenlist this early, but when I was presented with the option to have the CNO reenlist me, I decided right away that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I was not going to let slip away."
"Who wouldn't jump at the chance to be reenlisted by the CNO?" said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Gerald Lee. "This was a highlight. I've reenlisted four times, and if this is my last reenlistment, I will go out on a high note by being reenlisted by the CNO."
Richardson left the crew with encouraging words just before he departed on an MV-22 Osprey.
"To the crew, to the embarked Marines and to all our multi-national partners; I just want to say that it has been a terrific visit here to this ship," said Richardson. "After walking around the spaces, I can't tell you how proud I feel to get a chance to shake your hand and to learn a little bit about you. I'm super proud of all of you. I'm going to take all of these stories back to Washington and tell our leadership, up to the highest levels, what they've got here is just an amazing capability and something they can be proud of too."
Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
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For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.