NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE NEW LONDON, GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen made a visit to Wilkinson Hall Sept. 13 and held an all-hands call with the Sailors of Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London.
“We live in a time where crisis response is required,” he said, referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and his recent visit to Gulfport, Miss. “We are going through a major crisis in this country right now, and I visited with Sailors down there who are yet again making a big difference, saving lives and showing what the Navy can bring with the resources that it has."
“The Seabees [in Gulfport] are building and rebuilding the base and surrounding community,” he continued. “They are getting the hospital and schools back online and working with the mayor and local officials. They are bouncing back.”
Before taking questions from the Sailors, Mullen outlined the three major challenges the Navy currently faces.
The first is sustaining readiness, Mullen explained. “We need to be able to surge and respond, and I feel we’ve never been better. Secondly, we need to make sure career plans and development of our Sailors is correct for our 21st Century workforce. The third major challenge is to develop our Navy for the future; to see what works for our force architecture and see what the requirements are.”
The first question from the audience was from a Sailor who asked about the Navy
’s mentorship program and where Mullen sees that program going. Mullen said he expected that many of the young Sailors in attendance would someday be chiefs and officers.
“What I tell a groups of CPO (chief petty officer) selectees is that my expectation for them is to be a leader,” said Mullen. “Sure, you got there because of your skills, but now you need to be a leader. Somebody paved the way for you to make chief, and now you must return that opportunity to someone else. You need to extract that potential from your younger Sailors.”
After a question on the status of Task Force Uniform, Mullen turned the podium over to Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/AW) Terry Scott, who has been working closely with Task Force Uniform to find the best uniform for today’s Sailor.
While MCPON talked a lot about the ongoing feedback reports and the need to develop uniforms that are appropriate in all environments while saving Sailors money, he said the challenge was in doing all that while retaining the universal image of the Sailor.
Another Sailor asked Mullen if the Navy was prepared to lose good Sailors due to the physical readiness instruction that came out recently.
He replied that, though losing Sailors was not the goal, he was prepared to do so and stressed that the Navy needs to “be fit to fight.”
Mullen also said that losing Sailors will be a short-term problem, and the Navy will adjust accordingly. “Otherwise,” he asked back, “what’s the point of having a [physical readiness] standard or even a [physical readiness] program?”
As the question and answer session came to a close, Mullen once again thanked the Sailors for their service.
“It is a really critical time for our Navy right now,” he said. “We are getting set to celebrate the Navy’s 230th birthday next month, and celebrate with it our proud heritage. Don’t ever underestimate what you are doing.”
(By Journalist 3rd Class Steven Feller, Commander, Navy Region Northeast Public Affairs)