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NNS021007-14 Hayler Recognized as Best in the Fleet

Release Date: 10/7/2002 4:06:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Heather Hines, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Admiral Robert J. Natter presented the Arleigh Burke Fleet Award Oct. 4 to the Norfolk-based destroyer USS Hayler (DD 997).

"This is the most important award in the Navy, and in my opinion, the most difficult to attain," said Natter during his opening remarks. He was also speaking from experience, having served as an Executive Officer on a Spruance-class destroyer.

The Arleigh Burke Award, named after the U.S. Navy's most famous destroyer squadron combat commander and chief of naval operations from 1955 to 1961, is given annually to the most improved battle-efficient ship or aircraft squadron from the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet.

One Sailor on board surprisingly discovered that he and Natter shared a mutual interest - and problem. "I maintain the number two HPAC (High Pressure Air Compressor) and it has given me a few problems," said Engineman Fireman Seth Jones. "While talking to Admiral Natter, I also found out he experienced the same problems when he worked on the unit."

And while the time he spent with Natter was priceless, Jones did not lose focus of why the admiral was on board his ship. "It's really nice to see that my hard work has paid off, and to see our ship being recognized as the Arleigh Burke Award winner."

Hayler's dramatic improvement in operational readiness, teamwork and commitment to excellence made her the standout ship. As the squadron's front-runner during COMPTUEX, JTFEX and a high-tempo Mediterranean deployment, Hayler was awarded the coveted Destroyer Squadron TWO EIGHT Ironman award.

Among other accomplishments, Hayler received the CINCLANTFLT Retention Award achieving 36.8% retention rate among First Term Sailors, 77% for Second Term Sailors and 87.5% for Career Sailors.

According to Fire Controlman First Class Petty Officer (Surface Warfare) Casey Langley, the award rewards the perseverance, diligence and teamwork all Hayler Sailors demonstrated during 2001. "Every department pulled together and put forth 110 percent towards excellence. This is first ship I've been on that has received the Arleigh Burke."

"Courage in Conflict" is Hayler's motto and after 18-year of distinguished service, this prestigious award exemplifies how our military and nation continues to respond to the call of duty.

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