This year marks the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Navy Seabees, Seabee Day is Saturday, and we’re in the midst of Gulf Coast Navy Week.
So Navy officials have been working pretty hard to “tell the story of the U.S. Navy.”
Rear Adm. Timothy C. Gallaudet, the highest ranking naval officer in the state, stopped by the Sun Herald to share part of that story. He is the Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, a position based at the Pentagon, as well as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, based at Stennis Space Center.
Here’s what he wants the Coast to know:
1. The Navy is growing: Though the Air Force and Army have been facing the drawing down of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the role of the Navy is becoming increasingly important, Gallaudet said. Ships are in the eastern Mediterranean launching strikes at the Islamic State. They are in the South China Sea with missions aimed at protecting freedom of movement and trade. And with much of the world’s communication filtering through underwater communication lines, the Navy is protecting those lines, he said. Sailors are working to protect against missile threats from both Iran and North Korea.
“We’re not just sitting there watching,” Gallaudet said. “The Navy is more important than it’s ever been, more active than it’s ever been.”
2. The Gulf Coast is great for the Navy and the Navy is great for the Gulf Coast: Between the Seabee Base and Stennis, the Navy provides thousands of jobs to sailors and civilians in the area, he said, and contributes about $207 million each year to the Coast economy. And with Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula building new ships for the Navy and Gulfport being home to the Atlantic Fleet Seabees, “the Gulf Coast is very important for the Navy,” Gallaudet said.
3. “Join the Navy, see the world,” is no joke, Gallaudet said: At one point, he was giving a presentation to his daughter’s swim team that included a list of the 80 countries he had visited as part of the Navy. Halfway through, he realized he’d left four off the list. A young sailor can see the world and take on more responsibility than would be possible in many private-sector jobs — such as the deck watch aboard a $10 billion ship, he said.
“What the Navy offers is opportunity and more responsibility at a younger age than the private sector,” Gallaudet said.
4. Interested in the Navy? Focus on STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — in school. The Navy is a technical organization, Gallaudet said, and being science-minded will make prospective sailors more attractive to the service.