Italy: VCNO Visits Naval Forces in Europe and Africa

VCNO Visits Naval Forces in Europe and Africa

Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations (VCNO), visited the Naval Support Activity (NSA) in Naples, Italy, Nov. 28, marking the final stop in a series of visits that included U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Africa Command visit over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Other stops included NSA Rota, Spain; NSA Souda Bay, Greece; and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. During his visits, Ferguson met with senior leadership receiving briefs on current operations and base infrastructure. Accompanied by Chief of Naval Personnel and Navy Total Force Fleet Master Chief Scott Benning, VCNO also held all-hands calls with service members and answered questions at each location.

While in Rota, Ferguson met with Capt. Scott Kraverath, commanding officer of Naval Station Rota, to discuss the plans for stationing four Aegis ships in support of ballistic missile defense there. They also discussed improving the installation to support the ships’ crews and their families. “It’s important for me to get over here and see the requirements to get [this base ready for the ships’ arrival],” said Ferguson.

In Djibouti, VCNO toured Camp Lemonnier and met with Commander, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, Rear Adm. Mike Franken, and the base commander, Capt. Scott Hurst. He presented five awards and conducted one reenlistment before an all hands call, and then enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day meal with Sailors.

In Souda Bay, he toured the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) and conducted a reenlistment for six Sailors prior to conducting an all hands call. Samuel B. Roberts’ most recent deployment took her along the east coast of Africa in support of Africa Partnership Station 2011, an international security cooperation initiative aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

“The Navy’s never been more relevant, and we see that in our Sailors across the globe…be they in the western Pacific, doing counter drug operations off South America, operating in Africa Partnership Station, or in the Middle East,” said Ferguson. “They’re performing extraordinarily well and in demand, contributing greatly to the national strategy and defense of the nation.”

Ferguson’s visit to Naples included meetings with senior leaders from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, to discuss strategic issues within the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

He wrapped up the visit with one final all-hands call, where he thanked, not just the service members, but their families for all they do.

“I thank all of you for your leadership, for what you do every day and your service to the nation,” said Ferguson. “I’ve been very impressed with the leadership, your attitudes, the facilities that you have, and I think this is a great place to serve. It’s been a pleasure to be here, and I’d like to thank you and your families [for what you do].”

Benning answered Sailors’ questions about perform-to-serve and the enlisted retention board. He also praised Sailors for their ability to accomplish a variety of tasks outside of their assigned ratings.

We train across many spectrums and we prepare [ourselves], and honestly it’s what the other [military] services love about our individual augmentee Sailors,” said Benning. “[Our Sailors] can do more than one thing, and they can do more than one thing at one time, and that makes [our Sailors] a real commodity that they very much desire.”

Sailors who attended the all-hands call appreciated the answers they received.

“The answers they gave us were very straight forward and up front,” said Hospitalman Nathan Sichone. “I am confident that [Ferguson] will continue to get the job done and represent the Sailors to the best of his ability and meet the needs of the Navy.”

Naval Today Staff, December 01, 2011; Image: navy