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Forward and Ready: Deployed Naval Forces in Rota Blog
Fleet Master Chief Kemp and I traveled to Rota, Spain to spend time with the Sailors of our Forward Deployed Naval Forces.
We visited USS Carney and USS Ross. We met with their leaders and crews to hear what’s on their minds and to thank them for all the incredible work they do daily for our nation. Our forward deployed ships in Europe defend against potential aggressors and assure our partners and allies that our commitment to NATO and our common defense is, as I have said before, rock solid. To this end, we also met and thanked our Spanish hosts, without whom our ability to respond quickly and decisively would not be possible.
Our forces in Rota are key elements to our national security and play a critical role in the region’s security and stability. The capability they bring to the fight is unmatched. On April 7, USS Porter – also forward deployed to Rota – together with USS Ross launched a total of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on Al Shayrat airbase in Syria in response to the regime’s chemical weapon attack on its own civilians. These strikes degraded the regime’s ability to conduct future chemical attacks from that location.
Most recently, on Oct. 15, USS Donald Cook – our fourth destroyer in Rota – successfully shot an SM-3 missile during the integrated air and missile defense exercise “Formidable Shield 2017." They demonstrated the unique ability of US Navy destroyers to go up against even the most advanced ballistic missiles.
I could not be prouder of their work.
To say these ships are doing a superb job is an understatement. Our Sailors can work under immense pressure. They accomplish the mission. But as we learned during the recent USS Fitzgerald and McCain tragedies, even some of our best ships and crews can falter. Part of the reason for my visit was to actively listen to our crews’ challenges and concerns and share the lessons learned from the Navy’s recently released Comprehensive Review. Our conversations were productive and candid—I learned a good deal from our Sailors on the deckplates. We will honor the service and sacrifice of the 17 sailors we lost on our sister ships by taking their lessons to heart.
We operate in a dangerous and demanding environment. We can never eliminate risk, but we have an obligation to our families and the American public to do everything we can to avoid future tragedies. We owe it to them. We owe it to ourselves. Moving forward as a team we will be ready.