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NEWS | Nov. 24, 2022

SECNAV Visits Souda Bay, India and Naples

By U.S. Navy Public Affairs

Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro traveled to Greece, India and Italy Nov. 15–22 to further U.S. national security interests by engaging foreign dignitaries, Department of the Navy (DON) senior leaders, Sailors, Marines and civilians while reinforcing bilateral security relationships with partner nations.

Del Toro stopped in Souda Bay, Greece, Nov. 15, where he held office calls with senior officials in the Greek Government including the Deputy Chief of Defense Vice Adm. Drymousis and toured the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center (NMIOTC). He also met with Sailors, civilians and local-national employees during a tour of Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay.

“My number one priority is the Department’s nearly one million Sailors, Marines, and civilians. One of the things I enjoy most is meeting the dedicated Sailors, Marines, civilians, and family members who are working around the world in support of this nation,” Del Toro said during an all-hands call in Souda Bay. “I’m here to find out, directly from you, how I can serve you and ensure you have the necessary tools and resources to not only fulfill the mission, but to take care of your families.”

During his 5-day visit to India, Del Toro met with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane, Chief of Naval Staff Adm. R. Hari Kumar, Chairman of the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) Dr. Arun Sinha, and NSA Maritime Advisor Vice Adm (ret) Ashok Kumar to discuss the growing cooperation and shared security interests between the U.S. and India in the maritime domain and elsewhere.

Secretary Del Toro also met with Vice Adm. M. A. Hampiholi, the Commander in Chief of Indian Navy Southern Naval Command and toured the country’s first indigenous built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant while in Kochi. Del Toro was highly impressed by the professionalism of the Indian Navy and the robust capabilities available at Indian shipyards with potential to serve U.S. naval vessels in the future.

“Our defense partnership with India is a pillar of a free and open Indo-Pacific region and it was a privilege to have substantive conversations with their senior leaders concerning greater cooperation and interoperability in all maritime domains,” said Del Toro. “I was incredibly impressed while touring their newest aircraft carrier as it enables India to join the elite group of five nations to have built an aircraft carrier and demonstrates a continued commitment to improve sea control capabilities. I am looking forward to our U.S. Navy ships operating with Vikrant in the foreseeable future where we will we continue to leverage a foundation of shared values and mutual interests in order to maintain the international norms that ensure not only Indian and U.S. national security, but our economic security.”

Also while in New Delhi, Del Toro toured the American Center where he answered pointed questions from students attending leading universities across India regarding the growing relationship between India and the United States and the importance of technology in deterring our mutual adversaries in the region. Later that evening, Del Toro served as the guest of honor at the U.S. Marine Corps birthday ball organized by the U.S. Embassy Marine Security Guard Detachment which was attended by Allies and partners from across the region.

“I cannot say this enough, the work our Marine Security Guards do abroad is critical on a number of fronts,” said Del Toro. “Not only are they postured 24/7 to protect our U.S. personnel and property abroad, but they are often the very first Americans some foreign visitors meet when they visit our embassies.”

Before departing India, Del Toro paid homage to the fallen heroes of the Indian Armed Forces during a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial in New Delhi and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, the spiritual leader of India, while touring the grounds of his memorial.

“It was a humbling experience to honor those that lost their lives in building and protecting India’s democracy,” said Del Toro. “Gandhi unified millions of people of diverse backgrounds around the world with his words and personal example. His commitment to freedom and democracy should serve as an example for all nations fighting totalitarianism today to follow”

Del Toro concluded his multi-country trip with a brief overnight stop in Naples, Italy, where he met with Commander, U.S. Navy European Command (NAVEUR) Adm. Stuart Munsch and Vice Adm. Thomas E. Ishee, Commander,  U.S. 6th Fleet, to discuss the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed presence deterring adversaries in Europe.

“Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine has created instability that is having an impact on all of Europe,” said Del Toro. “To ensure dominance against any evolving threat environment, we must be present, persistent and powerful in our integrated maritime strategy. We can only do that by investing in the health, readiness and capability of our Sailors and Marines in the region and working closely with our allies.”