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U.S. 4th Fleet Admiral Visits UNITAS Task Force At Sea

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120928-07
9/28/2012

By Lt. j.g. Emily J. McCamy, U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

CARIBBEAN SEA (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet visited guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) and guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107), Sept. 27, in the Caribbean Sea during UNITAS, an annual multinational exercise.

UNITAS that involves naval forces from 13 partner nations to promote interoperability and cooperation with each other and is hosted by U.S. 4th Fleet.

Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris toured the ships, met with the crew and took time to speak with all members to show his support and dedication to 4th Fleet and appreciation for their hard work.

"Thank you for what you do, for what Gravely does. From the cooks in the galley ... to keeping the ship clean, what you do is critical to our nation, to our world," Harris said.

Harris met with Sailors on the mess deck and was present for the reenlistment of Information Systems Technician Chief Adam Becker (SW). Harris spoke to the crew about the legacy of retired Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely, the ship's namesake, and took time to answer questions.

Harris, who knew Gravely, spoke about his attributes, and the significance of why the ship was named after him. Gravely was known as a man of firsts; first African-American flag officer, first African-American to command a ship, making the ship's motto "First to Conquer" fitting.

"What has stayed with me about him is that he was a humble man," Harris said. "He wanted to be buried in his civilian clothes - not his uniform because he was a man of war when he served, and after was a man of peace. He never complained and he never made a big deal of his accomplishments.

"Knowing the history of Gravely makes me proud," Harris continued. "Get to know your ship and its history, its namesake. We name ships for a reason."

Harris also spoke with the chiefs, emphasizing their role in the Navy and reminding them of the significance of being a chief.

"You represent the backbone of the Navy," Harris said. "Don't be shy, if you need something, speak up."

As Gravely prepares to deploy in upcoming months, Harris addressed the officers advising them "get as much experience as you can, get your qualifications and broaden your horizons so you have a wide swath of understanding of what the Navy is all about."

Having Harris onboard "was an incredible experience," said Gravely's commanding officer Cmdr. David Dry. "He served with Gravely and had a personal relationship with him and the Gravely family. This is a tremendous opportunity to have him on board and address the
crew."

The visit left an impression on Culinary Specialist Seaman Shekela Wright.

"Gravely is a new ship and having the admiral on board is an honor," Wright said. "He gives great advice and builds our motivation on the ship making us want to work harder and lets us know we're doing a good job."

As the UNITAS exercise draws to an end Harris recognized Gravely's contributions and the overall significance of the exercise.

"This UNITAS is unique," Harris said. "What you are doing is building confidence in our partner nations. It is about what we do and provide sea force, UNITAS is important."

UNITAS is the longest running and largest maritime exercise in this hemisphere and is hosted by Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, Commander of U.S.4th Fleet. The 12-day exercise will entail a variety of operations intended to enhance interoperability between the partner nations.



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