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NEWS | Aug. 22, 2022

Chaplains unite at sea

By Lt. Kathleen Barrios, USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) Public Affairs

Life at sea can be difficult, at times filled with uncertainty and challenging days. The schedule can be ever-changing, bringing stress and concern to Sailors and their families. Many Sailors have a vital resource available to them to manage this stress and concern, though: the Navy’s Chaplain Corps.

Chaplains are embarked on U.S. Navy ships across the globe, ready to support and encourage everyone from the most junior Sailor to most senior officer in church services, counseling or just to be a listening ear. Lt. Cmdr. Elias Paulk, a chaplain embarked on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), demonstrates the value of embarked chaplains on Navy ships.

 “It’s an honor to be able to serve alongside some of the hardest working Sailors in the fleet,” said Paulk. “My role as a chaplain allows me to be there for Sailors through prayer and Bible study, through the celebration of church services and as a brother-in-arms.”

Forrest Sherman deployed from the East Coast of the United States, June 11, 2022 to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations.

Throughout the deployment, Forrest Sherman has integrated and operated with many NATO allies and partners, as well as the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG). Lt. Rene Pellessier, a Roman Catholic chaplain embarked on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), spent an afternoon aboard Forrest Sherman and celebrated a Roman Catholic mass with the ship’s crew.

Coordinating personnel transfers at sea is no small task, but when a small window of opportunity presented itself, Truman, Forrest Sherman, and Destroyer Squadron 28 leadership prioritized the chaplain’s movement via helicopter.

“It was a pleasure and a welcomed opportunity to have Chaplain Pellessier aboard from Harry S. Truman,” said Cmdr. Lawrence Heyworth IV, commanding officer of Forrest Sherman. “Chaplains are incredible force multipliers in the surface Navy. Religious ministry is extremely important to many Sailors, and many more also build toughness through the seasoned counseling that all chaplains offer, regardless of religious affiliation. Maximizing our Sailors’ access to Navy chaplains – including the Navy’s initiative to permanently assign chaplains to Arleigh Burke-class destroyers – unquestionably builds our team’s resilience.”

As they continue their deployment throughout Europe, Forrest Sherman’s crew knows that the Chaplain Corps stands ready to assist them through a variety of situations and opportunities. As the Navy continues to prioritize providing chaplain services on surface ships, destroyer crews around the world will continue to benefit from this initiative and the efforts put forth by the Navy’s chaplains.

Forrest Sherman is serving as the flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2), a multinational integrated task group that projects a constant and visible reminder of the alliance’s solidarity and cohesion afloat and provides the alliance with a continuous maritime capability to perform a wide range of tasks, including exercises and real-world operations in periods of crisis and conflict.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.