NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain —
On the last day of each year, the U.S. Navy preserves and celebrates its naval heritage through poetic means in the midnight entry of the official Naval Deck Log. A Navy ship’s crew perseveres through challenges and obstacles, and each passing year, the Deck Log gives account of these great successes. Normally, the Officer of the Deck (OOD) is responsible for the standard midnight entry – typically a report of location, material condition, equipment status, and other pertinent information. On the occasion of the New Year, the ship’s Navigator enjoys a bit of freedom in their reflections of the year gone bye.
In the year 2020, the world persevered and unparalleled paradigm shifts occurred on a global scale due to COVID-19. U.S. Navy surface ships were “On Call,” much like first responders at home: to be where America needed us to be, when they needed us to be there. USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) acutely understood these challenges and met them head on. Roosevelt was scheduled for a homeport shift from Mayport, Florida, to Rota, Spain; an arduous challenge in a normal year, and a massive undertaking during a global pandemic. Roosevelt altered course and went straight into a U.S. Sixth Fleet patrol, which tested the mettle and resilience of a battle-ready crew. Roosevelt endured and achieved mission success as the ship crossed the Atlantic and into the storied waters of the Arctic Circle, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea.
Undeterred by COVID-19, Roosevelt executed all deployment tasking, taking on great sacrifice – as did every other U.S. Navy ship at sea during 2020. As the world began to understand the magnitude of the pandemic, Roosevelt remained at sea to preserve the operational readiness of one of the nation’s most advanced and capable destroyers in a region held at risk by strategic competitors. As we bid farewell to 2020, the Navigator aboard Roosevelt playfully captures the reaction in the lines: “We bid farewell to the Land of the Free / And headed off to foreign regions to see / We made decent headway across the Atlantic / Until the pandemic had us turn back and be frantic.”
The frenzy didn’t last long, though, as the ship received direction and successfully completed the homeport shift to wonderful Rota, Spain. The ship remained at sea for patrol, travelling the Sixth Fleet waters extensively. The Navigator regales the awe and grandeur of these moments at sea: “Through the Turkish Straits and into the Black Sea / In Istanbul we admire the humble folk as they sip coffee that just want to be left be” and “From Tromsø, to Varna, to Souda Bay / From Iceland to Algiers, it was Roosevelt leading the way / watching the 2020 challenge be overcome by a vaccine on the way”.
Leading the way indeed! U.S. Navy Sailors are meant to be on ships, and ships are meant to be at sea. Roosevelt embodies that adage with over 200 days underway in 2020. The crew is thrilled to call Rota, Spain, “home” and celebrated the holiday season abroad. The officers, chiefs, and crew of Roosevelt delight in the prospect of more adventures in Sixth Fleet in 2021. Our diligent Navigator concludes his reflections with a similar sentiment: “We experienced many ups and downs, many highs and lows / But endured through them all, and now we draw this year to a close / 2020 was a year for the books, we had a great run / Now watch as we go all ahead flank into 2021!”
Roosevelt maintains the watch – sleep tight and enjoy the New Year; fear not, the “Arsenal of Democracy” will be there when you need her there most. Best wishes and a Happy New Year!