YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith visited Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) and met with Sailors onboard the Ticonderoga-class missile-guided cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) in Yokosuka, Japan on Jan. 18, 2019.
The MCPON is tasked with being the representative and leader for all Navy enlisted personnel. He travels to different duty stations to speak with Sailors about their ideas on personal and administration improvements and concerns.
Smith met with Capt. George Kessler, the commanding officer of Antietam, the ship’s executive officer Commander Jeffrey Watkins and command master chief Jeffrey Hineman. Following the meeting, he conducted an all-hands call on the ship’s forecastle with the crew.
"I only had time to visit one ship and I asked to visit Antietam," said Smith. He said he could not think of a more capable and mission-ready ship to visit while touring CFAY.
Smith made a short introduction speech and asked the crew to start a conversation. Sailors asked questions about the importance of the Navy’s presence, future ships and STEM programs to pursue higher education.
"When someone from ‘Big Navy’ comes out here and talks to the crew, it actually shows that big Navy cares what you are doing,” said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Samuel Mountz, assigned to Antietam. “It might be a small, miniscule thing comparatively, and proportionally; it definitely matters and adds up to the bigger picture."
Antietam Sailors also pulsed MCPON on his thoughts on the importance of serving in Seventh Fleet, to which he replied that the challenges Sailors face out here makes it the most important place to serve right now.
“For us who fight for a cause, I think that’s something very unique and special ... people who do it for the altruistic reasons of service that we do.”
Seventh Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world's population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors.