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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2014

US 7th Fleet Commander Discusses Sustainment and Operations Aboard Amphibious Ships

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam D. Wainwright USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

The commander of U.S. 7th Fleet commander visited Fleet Activities Sasebo Jan. 27 to speak with Sailors of 7th Fleet's forward-deployed amphibious and minesweeping ships.

Onboard USS Germantown (LSD 42) Vice Adm. Robert Thomas focused on learning about the ship's areas requiring repairs and undergoing maintenance.

Thomas' next stop was the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship USS Patriot (MCM 7) where he witnessed firsthand the hard work of her crew preparing for a Board of Inspection and Survey. Thomas also took the time to review his mission statement outlining core readiness components of material condition, proficiency and training, interoperability and rapid response, and held a brief question and answer session with Patriot's wardroom and chief community aboard.

"If there is one thing I want to accomplish during my tenure it's bringing the focus back to our ships," said Thomas. "We need to ensure that every ship in 7th fleet has the proper tools and time to maintain operational readiness so they can quickly and effectively respond to any mission."

Immediately following his visit on the Patriot, Thomas made the trek to Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). Engineering and material readiness was in the spotlight as Thomas took a walk through several of Ashland's main spaces.

After sharing his mission statement with Ashland's chief's mess, Thomas departed Ashland and arrived at his final stop; the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

Capt. Joey Tynch, Bonhomme Richard's commanding officer, and Capt. Heidi Agle, commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 escorted Thomas around the ship to give him an idea of Bonhomme Richard's warfighting capabilities.

Throughout his tour of Sasebo, Thomas said the Sailors in 7th Fleet are his number one priority.

"We need to ensure that we are continually training, developing, and retaining our Sailors so the future of our Navy is in great hands," said Thomas. "By doing our best to improve their quality of life and addressing their concerns, we can take one small step toward this goal."

Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Amphibious Ready Group and serves as the flagship for Commander, Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

This article was originally published at: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=78823
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