NORFOLK, Va. - The Vice Chief of Naval Operations fielded questions about readiness and deployment changes during a visit to Naval Station Norfolk Monday.
VCNO Admiral Bill Moran hosted an All Hands Call with Sailors on base, where he discussed what the Navy has done over the past year to address issues with surface fleet readiness and talked about shifts in defense strategy that are changing how the Navy executes deployments.
In the wake of two deadly collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain last summer, Admiral Moran says 111 recommendations have been made after reviews of the crashes, with his job being to oversee the entire process of implementing them and "breaking down barriers" that may exist in carrying out reform.
"The last six months have really focused in on making some corrections and the important corrections to safety and effective operations at sea," Admiral Moran said following the All Hands Call.
Part of the purpose of his visit, he told the auditorium packed with Sailors, was to hear directly from them about barriers that may be in the way and what the Navy can do better to train effectively as warfighters while maintaining safety on sea and on shore as their top priority.
He told the crowd that the public "expects us to be the best Navy on the planet."
Admiral Moran fielded several questions from Sailors about shifts in how deployments are being carried out in the fleet.
The USS Harry S. Truman, the USS Arleigh Burke, and the USS Forrest Sherman all returned to Naval Station Norfolk Saturday after three months of deployment.
The move is part of a defense strategy shift to inject more unpredictability into naval deployments.
In an interview with News 3 anchor Todd Corillo following the All Hands Call, Admiral Moran stressed the Optimized Fleet Response Plan that sets maintenance, work-up, deployment, and sustainment periods for carrier strike groups is still in effect, but what's changing is what happens during the period set-aside for deployments.
"A 7-month window for deployment, so that deployment period is going to stay. What we do within that deployment though is not going to be as predictable in the past," Admiral Moran told Corillo.
He also stressed that there won't be a pattern to how those deployment windows look and what happens to one Carrier Strike Group won't necessarily influence or impact what happens to the next.
"It just so happened for Truman we chose to bring her back for a working port visit back in Norfolk, get some things done, and they are going to pop back out on deployment," he said. "We are not going to dictate this so that everyone understand we are in this new normal and we are always going to set this pattern."
During the All Hands Call, Admiral Moran was frank when addressing Sailors questions, saying the Navy is working hard to make sure Sailors are equipped with the training they need in an efficient manner to get them out to the fleet quickly.
He also addressed a question about manpower, saying that after nearly a decade of "downsizing," the Navy is now working to build up. Admiral Moran pointed to recruitment figures of about 33,000 Sailors per year three years ago compared to a 40,000 goal this year. He says they hope to increase that even more if funding is approved by Congress.