By USS Kearsarge Public Affairs
With less than 24 hours clocked as the Department of the Navy’s top leader, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and its crew made a big impression upon the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, the Navy’s 78th and newest Secretary of the Navy.
Accompanied by two other distinguished visitors – Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday and Rep. Rob Wittman (Va., District 1) – Del Toro flew aboard Kearsarge on an MV-22 Osprey, August 10, for a closer glimpse at integrated amphibious operations and how the Navy and Marine Corps team has executed that role during Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021.
"The Kearsarge crew was tremendously honored to host our 78th Secretary of the Navy on his first ship visit, less than 24 hours after being sworn in,” said Kearsarge’s Commanding Officer Capt. Tom Foster, remarking on the significance of the visit. “Our Navy-Marine Corps team proudly demonstrated what our integrated capabilities bring to the fight. It was important that Secretary Del Toro, Rep. Wittman and CNO were able to see, first hand, how Live, Virtual, and Constructive training will exponentially improve the way our naval forces train for the high end fight. This visit also gave the Sailors and Marines of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit the opportunity to shine in front of the highest level of service leadership and they did exactly that. They displayed professionalism, tactical prowess, and a strong esprit des corps. I am proud to be a part of this crew and this warfighting team."
Embarked Kearsarge amphibious warfare leaders squired the trio of distinguished visitors and their staffs through an ambitious itinerary that began with an up-close look at landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) well deck operations.
Afterward the group dined with Marines and Sailors on the crew mess deck before heading to the wardroom, for an LSE overview brief provided by longtime shipboard operations training guru and Carrier Strike Group 4 Exercise Director, Dave Gellene. After his presentation, Gellene led the special guests to the Combat Information Center for a 30-minuite live, virtual, constructive training demonstration.
The visit wrapped up with flight operations on “Vulture’s Row,” an exclamation point to a lengthy day that began in Norfolk where Del Toro, Gilday, and Wittman visited the LSE 2021 command and control center at Navy Warfare Development Command, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Maritime Operations Center. At NWDC as well as aboard Kearsarge, Del Toro noted that the main difference between U.S. naval forces and our adversaries “are our people. My commitment is to work tirelessly to get you the resources you need to fight and win.”
After nearly four hours aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, Del Toro’s enthusiasm and appreciation for the commitment of his hosts could not be contained.
“I have been so impressed with your ship, with your captain, with your officers, with your junior enlisted, with your chief’s mess, with everybody onboard the Kearsarge,” Del Toro announced to the crew during an impromptu 1MC address shortly before returning ashore. “I’m so very proud to have spent my first day as secretary of the Navy here onboard this great ship!”
The Kearsarge team was equally impressed with Del Toro and excited to be the first command at sea to welcome the former ship commander back into naval service.
Merging live and synthetic training so Sailors and Marines across the globe can exercise the same battle problem in real time, LSE 2021 is intended to test warfighting concepts like Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) and Logistics in a Contested Environment (LOCE) and is the first iteration of what will become a triennial exercise with plans for future iterations to include Allies and partners.
LSE 2021 is a CNO-directed exercise led jointly by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe alongside their Marine Corps counterparts, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Marine Forces Atlantic, and U.S. Marine Forces Europe. For more information on LSE 2021, please visit: https://www.Navy.Mil/Resources/Blogs/Detail/Article/2711004/Large-Scale-Exercise/