By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Stuart B. Phillips, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens had the opportunity to virtually tour and interact with the crew of littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a video conference call placed from his office April 13.
MCPON received a virtual tour of the ship from Command Senior Chief Craig Cole, interacted with the ship's junior Sailors, and had a Q&A session with Fort Worth's chief petty officer mess, all while the ship operated in the South China Sea.
As part of the Q&A session, one chief asked MCPON for his perspective on LCS first class petty officer advancement rates when compared against other Sailors serving in larger commands.
MCPON explained that LCS is here to stay and the Sailors who serve on this platform are advancing up the ranks.
"As leaders, it is our responsibility to set and maintain the conditions for our Sailors to succeed," said Stevens. "One of my responsibilities is to ensure that no Sailor is disadvantaged based off the type of platform they serve on."
As the video conference session came to a close, Stevens thanked the crew for their dedication and service.
"I know you all are doing great work while operating forward in 7th Fleet," said Stevens. "Thank you for what you do and thank you for taking the time to give me a tour of one of the newest ships in the fleet."
Cole is a veteran LCS sailor himself, having been with the LCS program for almost 10 years and served on USS Freedom's (LCS 1) commissioning, sail through the Great Lakes, and many other LCS major milestones leading up to Freedom's maiden deployment. Now on his second LCS deployment, Cole highlighted the importance interactions like the virtual tour with MCPON have on Sailors' morale.
"It was great to show MCPON our ship," said Cole. "We work hard every day and night on deployment, and knowing that senior leaders are interested in what we are doing and how we are doing is a tremendous morale booster."
Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy as part of an initiative for up to four rotational deployments of these ships simultaneously to U.S. 7th Fleet in the coming years. Fast, agile and mission focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare.
The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.