Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Honorable Ray Mabus, right, and USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Commanding Officer Capt. Mark A. Melson observe Makin Island’s Strait of Malacca transit from the bridge after the ship’s departure from Changi Naval Base, Singapore. Mabus was aboard Makin Island as part of a visit to the Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility to meet with Sailors, Marines, and military and government officials. Makin Island, the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Lt. David Gardner)
CHANGI, Singapore -- Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus visited Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to commend their achievements, answer questions and discuss current initiatives and future goals for the force, while the ship was pierside in Singapore, Nov. 22.
Mabus opened the event with an all-hands call, lauding the Sailors and Marines aboard Makin Island for a job well done during the first month of their deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
"We're not only in the right place at the right time, we're in the right place all the time," said Mabus. "It has given our leaders options in times of crisis. It's being around the globe, around the clock.”
Makin Island Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Melson said the crew looked forward to the secretary’s visit.
“To have the longest-serving Secretary of the Navy since World War I aboard Makin Island prior to combat operations is a distinct honor,” said Melson. “This ship really is the future. Not just the propulsion plant, not just the flight deck, but the crew, and this is a historic opportunity for our Sailors and Marines.”
During a question and answer session on the Makin Island flight deck, Mabus fielded questions concerning the NOS Rating Modernization plan and how the rapid increase in ships added to the fleet will effect sea and shore rotation.
"Yes, we have been adding a lot of ships, with the Navy commissioning a new ship almost every week," said Mabus. "The ships we are commissioning now and in the future will have much smaller and more highly trained crews than we currently do. We are trying to get Sailors to sea more, and staying on shore less. We are the Navy, and Sailors go to sea.”
SECNAV set the goal of attaining a 300-ship fleet by the end of 2019.
Mabus also touted the achievements of the Navy and Marine Corps in diversifying the Department of the Navy’s energy sources.
“If we didn’t do something, energy could be used as a weapon against us,” Mabus said. “Last year Navy and Marine Corps bases met the 50 percent goal for alternative energy, and at sea, we’re at about 30 percent. Half of that is nuclear, the rest is biofuels.”
Mabus also spoke about the importance of partnerships.
"The Navy base here in Singapore is a tangible example of the strong partnerships we have and continue to build upon here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific," said Mabus. "Our friends and allies rely on our deployed Sailors and Marines to maintain the security and stability of this region.”
Speaking to the Navy and Marine Corps team aboard Makin Island, Mabus reemphasized the importance of their mission and noted that they are America's “away team.”
“The American people need to know how dangerous your duty is and how proficient you all are at defending them,” he added. “They need to understand why we need to continue to keep the Navy and Marine Corps as great as it's been."
Mabus also took some time to meet Sailors and Marines one-on-one, joined them for lunch on the ship’s mess decks, and took pictures with them throughout his visit.
Mabus commented on his favorite part of serving as Secretary of the Navy for the last eight years.
"I am taking the time to stop to see as many Sailors and Marines as I can on my farewell tour. I want to thank each and every one of you for what you do every day," said Mabus. "Thank you for your willingness to wear the uniform. America has so many reasons to be so proud of what you do because you're better than anyone in the world at doing what you do. Nobody matches the Marine Corps or the Navy in any capability or in any capacity. Your country applauds your dedication to training and education and your excellence in doing your job."
Mabus is the 75th United States SECNAV, and the longest to serve as leader of the Navy and Marine Corps since World War I.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, running from the international dateline to the eastern coast of Africa, and from the Antarctic to the Kuril Islands, Northeast of Japan.
While in 7th Fleet, the Makin Island ARG and 11th MEU will be assigned to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.