Thank you Captain Garrold, thank you Chief Petty Officers here today, and welcome to the crew, the families and the friends of our newest United States Navy Ship, the USS Chief. It is truly wonderful to be here with all of you on this very special day. What a great day for Navy people and for our Navy for today, for the second time in our history, we will have a warship named for a very special group of Navy professionals, the Chief Petty Officers of the finest, strongest Navy in the world.
Chief.....what a great name for a Navy warship. Chief.....the very name says it all. The best. Number one. A winner in every way. .....what a great name! There are two very proud secretaries of the Navy today. Our present Secretary, John Dalton, asked me to tell you of his pride in this new ship, of those who sail in her, and of the outstanding men and women, the Chief Petty Officers, whose service for over one hundred years has been a shining example for every shipmate, officer and enlisted. The other proud secretary is one who served not long ago in that position, Lawrence Garrett who during his tour decided to name MCM-14 the second USS Chief in honor of the Chief Petty Officer community on their 100th anniversary.
Secretary Garrett is here today and I know he made a wonderful decision, a decision he will remember and we will remember for many years as this ship, our newest Chief, serves and serves well in our great Navy.
There are so many special people here today that I hesitate to single out any one of you for, in fact, you are all special. I must, however, mention the former and present master Chief Petty Officers of the Navy. Each and every one is with us today. Would you all stand and receive a well deserved and heartfelt round of applause.....
One of those master Chiefs who was just recognized is Master Chief Petty Officer Duane Bushey. Now Duane had his share of recognition while serving as MCPON and doing so in such an outstanding fashion. But Duane, as great as you were, as great as you are, today is Sue Bushey's day for she was chosen as this ship's sponsor. She, represents all the best that wives and husbands of Navy Chief Petty Officers are and can be. In fact she represents all Sailors wives and husbands and, by Sailors, I mean Sailors of every rank and grade from admiral to the most junior first termer. Sue Bushey has done it all. From loving and encouraging a young petty officer to be all that he could be and seeing him become our Master Chief of the Navy, to raising a wonderful Navy family, to looking after and taking care of countless thousands Navy men and women and their families. No ship could have a more fitting sponsor, a more dedicated lady to put her spirit and soul into her ship. And, of course, a ship named USS Chief must have a superb Chief Petty Officer's wife to start her on her voyage, to keep her safe in the storms she will encounter, to help set her course and keep her headed fair and to return her safely to harbor each and every time until the very last time when she completes her tour of duty in our Navy and many years from now, is finally allowed to swallow the anchor and join her sister ships who have served well and earned their place in our history. That day, the end of her voyage and return to her final homeport, is a long way off for our new USS Chief. But throughout this fantastic voyage that she begins today, from her very first sea detail after this ceremony to the very last time her captain, a captain who is not even in our Navy as we meet her today.....the very last time her final captain says, "double up all lines and secure main engines" for the very last time.....USS Chief will carry the prayers, the spirit and the soul of Sue Bushey. With Sue as her sponsor there can be no doubt that we commission a great ship today. Sue, please stand for a moment so we can all show just how very proud we are of you and all the dedication and service you have personally given to our Navy and our total Navy family.....
Chief.....what a great name for a ship. The title Chief raises so many memories for all Sailors. Every one of us who has served for any length of time can tell you about his or her "Chief." most of us have more than one. New Sailors and, even seasoned petty officers, given half a chance will tell you stories about their Chief, a salty individual who took care of them, who taught them all the important things, who set the example, who cared about them and was not afraid to show it in so many ways.
Officers have their Chief too. Usually somewhat older than they, always wiser in the ways of the Navy than they could possibly be as they started out on their careers. Ready with advice, with counsel and with the know how to make it happen, to get it done, no matter how difficult. And through it all, those great Chiefs were and are also great teachers. They know, as only Chief Petty Officers can know, that getting the job done today is important.....it is the mission ....but that the task of helping that new officer become a real pro, a true naval officer in the finest sense of the term, is just part of the job....a key part, a critical role that Chief Petty Officers have been playing for over one hundred years now. Our Navy depends upon them, the Chiefs know it and they thrive on the challenge.
I am a lucky man for I have served as a new seaman, a petty officer and an officer. In each phase of my career a great petty officer appeared at just the right time, guiding me, pushing me when necessary, leading me and, when it was appropriate, letting me think I was leading him. There have been many Chiefs in my life, all important, many personal friends, all professionals. Many of those Chiefs are here today but I want to recognize just one, a Chief Petty Officer who led the way for me, who believed in me and who encouraged and even badgered me to be all that I could be. He is, as much as any other person here other than my wife Bettie, the reason I am here today as Chief of Naval Operations. I am speaking of a special Chief.....my Chief.....George Everding. George, please stand so everyone here can applaud a Chief Petty Officer who not only cared about his people but who went more than the extra mile to make a difference in so many peoples' lives. I am so proud of you.....my Chief.
This new USS Chief is the second ship to bear the proud name. I have a special affection for this ship and her predecessor for they are mine warfare ships and I had the good fortune to command a minesweeper many years ago as a young lieutenant. The first Chief was a proud ship, commissioned in 1943, she was a warrior. By the end of World War II she had earned five battle stars in the pacific participating in the capture, occupation and mine clearing of Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. She then performed minesweeping near Honshu in preparation for the occupation of Japan. After the war our first Chief went back to San Pedro, California where she got a well deserved rest. But.....she was not destined to lie alongside the pier and silent for long.....she was recalled for Korea and there, as always, she served proudly earning two more battle stars. Yes, that first USS Chief was a warrior and, because she was, I want to spend a moment or two talking about Chief Petty Officers as warriors, the backbone of warfighting at sea for a hundred years.....no less today than in the last century. For, my friends, warfighting is what we do, fighting when we must, winning when we do fight.....that is the stuff of Chief Petty Officers in the past, today and in our future.
We know, every sailor knows, that the word leadership and the title Chief Petty Officer go together. You cannot say one without thinking of the other. Oh yes.....Chiefs lead in peacetime too. They teach, they provide the technical expertise and experience, they know how to get the job done and they know how to make all the right things happen. They know that combat readiness is based on taking care of people, on keeping their ship and her requirement ready at all times, and on all those many attributes and abilities that make Chiefs special as they lead their Sailors and teach their young officers. But all of that is preamble to leadership in war. No Chief, no sailor.....seaman or admiral....wants to fight in wars. We want to deter them. But when our nation calls, when the fight is no longer optional, no longer avoidable, but now is required....now is the order of the day.....that is when all that Chief Petty Officer leadership, commitment, honor and courage really pays off. For deep down, each and every Chief Petty Officer knows that we are warriors and that he or she is a leader of warriors as well. In the smoke and fury and, yes, the confusion of battle at sea, it is then that the Chief Petty Officer proves again and again that everything else was simply preparation for the moment of truth. The moment when all that work pays off. When those young Sailors do what is required, do it almost instinctively and when they look to the Chief for the example of all that is great in our Navy.
Just like all of you, I pray that this ship, our new USS Chief, will not have to enter a real minefield, endure the danger that goes with being a ship of this very special class, that she does not have to sail into danger to do what must be done. But, just like the USS Chief who went before her, just like the Chief Petty Officers who went before all of today's Chiefs, the day will probably come when she does just that. The day will probably come when it is not a drill, when the crew of this ship knows that the chips are down, that the mines lurking beneath the surface are real and they are deadly. The day when the landing craft, the larger ships, the Sailors and marines who will use the waters she has cleared, will follow her to fight and win on the land. They will depend on her to make their trip to the battle safe, to make it possible for them to get there so that they can engage the enemy and win. It is then that this ship and her crew will truly be tested. It is then that the Chief Petty Officer leadership we are all so proud of will have it's biggest payoff. It is then when we will, as Chiefs and Sailors have always done -- it is then when we will prove, as we have proven so many times in so many distant waters before -- that the words "follow me" and "ask the Chief" are not just words but part of a creed, a way of life, that sets the warrior apart from all others. It is then, in the difficult and dangerous times, in ways that only warriors can understand, that this ship, our USS Chief, her crew and Chief Petty Officers everywhere will once again be tested in a special way. Even though I pray that day will not come, I know that if and when it does, they will make us proud.....they will show the way.
Captain Garrold, you have a special charge. Your ship carries the special title, a very special title, as her name. You bear a special burden and you carry a special trust as the skipper of a proud ship with a proud name. Chiefs are leaders, Chiefs really are the backbone, the heart and soul of our Navy. If you, or if a captain who follows you, must take this ship into the fight, you must prepare her to do her duty just as so many great Chiefs have done their duty in so many places, in so many ways.....in so many fights.....before you. Chief is more than a name. It is a symbol, a tradition of all that is good and honorable in the greatest Navy the world has ever known. I envy you. Every sailor here envies you. For you, as Commanding Officer of USS Chief will have the opportunity to carry on in the finest traditions of one of the proudest and most important groups of men and women in our Navy. I know that you, your ship and your crew will not let us down. You will.....you must.....be the best.....you carry a special trust for your ship bears the name "Chief" and she must embody all the great and inspiring things that her name symbolizes.
God bless this ship, her captain and her crew and the Navy and nation she serves, and God bless each and every one of you here today. I am proud of each one of you. I am proud to be an American sailor. Thank you.