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Speeches
U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Adm. Daryl Caudle

NORFOLK, Virginia

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command

21 March 2022 Remarks as delivered:

Good evening everyone!  Let me begin by extending my sincere gratitude to Maryellen Baldwin, Linda Irmen, and Brie Kingsbury who lead the Navy League of Hampton Roads, for hosting this wonderful event.

I’d also like to take a quick moment to recognize and thank Governor Youngkin, the C-N-O, and all of the amazing leaders across the whole of government who have joined us here today on such a momentous occasion. Our Fleet is stronger today than ever before because of your unwavering support and steadfast leadership.

My wife Donna and I are deeply honored to be here with you tonight, and I am proud to represent the over 100,000 Sailors, Marines, and Navy civilian professionals whom I serve alongside both here in Hampton Roads and across the nation, every day at Fleet Forces Command.

Many of you here might be wondering – what in the world is a submariner, in sound mind, doing here supporting this Centennial event, when I could be touting the prowlers of the deep and promoting the absolute necessity of Columbia and Virginia class submarines?

Well, that’s easy – and I think President Clinton said it best - “When word of crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is: ‘Where’s the nearest carrier?’”

Now, I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last to tell you this evening – it is an indisputable fact that our Aircraft Carriers are the centerpiece of not only our naval fighting force, but our ability to overtly project power and strategic deterrence around the world at our timing and tempo.

And, it goes without saying, this is possible only because of the highly-dedicated and talented people, who are undeniably our nation’s greatest competitive advantage - so, let’s hear another round of applause for all of our active duty and reserve naval service members, industry partners, and civilian leadership here tonight. 

Tonight, I’d like to share why I believe the U-S Aircraft Carrier, and further, the Carrier Strike Group, is so critical to securing Americas place in the world.

It truly is a unique time in our history, one of paramount importance concerning the importance of the maritime commons, one that will likely redefine the way we view strategic deterrence; how we enhance interoperability with our partners and allies; and how we ensure the operational readiness of our naval combatants so they may consistently and effectively respond to global crisis with absolute lethality.

To highlight this, today, the Navy has 88 battle force ships underway around the world – including 3 carrier strike groups – sailing right alongside with allies and partner nations, ensuring our vital sea lanes remain free and open.

As the C-N-O mentioned a few moments ago, the HARRY S. TRUMAN carrier strike group is currently deployed to the Mediterranean Sea not only supporting our NATO Allies, but sailing ALONGSIDE our NATO allies – including the French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle and Italian Carrier Cavour.

And just off the east coast, GEORGE H W BUSH (CVN-77) and her strike group (CSG-10) are conducting actively underway and getting certified to forward deploy and conduct sustained operations at a moment’s notice.

These strike groups represent a mere fraction of the many thousands of Sailors forward deployed in submarines, surface ships, aircraft squadrons, seal teams, and expeditionary units around the world who’s constant presence and dedication underwrite and ensure our nation’s values and rules-based international order are defended against an ever increasing set of threats from peer adversaries.

Indeed, throughout our history you will find that many of our greatest diplomatic moments were achieved either on U-S Navy ships, or by sheer virtue of their presence.  From humanitarian aid to peace treaties to accepting the surrender of adversaries - the awesome ability of our Navy to project power, confidence, safety, and security is testament to the intersection our Navy has with the honorable principles that founded our nation – namely freedom, peace, and prosperity. 

So, here we are, 100 years after the advent of the first U-S naval aircraft carrier, where through feats of indescribable creativity and skill, built what was truly an engineering marvel – C-V 1, U-S-S LANGLEY.
And since those first landings by LCDR Godfrey de Chevalier in the AeroMarine 39-B, off of Cape Henry, with only sandbags and rope as arresting gear - that same vision, empowered by ingenuity and innovation, has continued to shape the face of naval warfare, delivering time and time again, the most advanced and feared class of warships ever conceived.

What we have achieved since its inception has been simply eye-watering. To understand what I mean, just look at the evolution of aircraft carriers from World War II through the war in Vietnam.

What started as a hodge-podge of ships of converted tankers, battle cruisers, and supply ships swiftly transformed into the first purpose-built carriers – Yorktown, Ranger, and Hornet.

Wood planked flight decks, covered bow to stern with ‘canvas and wood stringer’ bi-planes and propeller driven dauntless and hellcat aircraft, rapidly gave way to the non-skid flattops of AMERICA, KITTY HAWK, and ENTERPRISE carrying infamous aircraft like the Panther, Intruder, and Phantom.

And now today – aboard supercarriers like BUSH, REAGAN, and, of course our Navy’s newest, the FORD – we launch and recover the most advanced maritime fighters ever built – the Joint Strike Fighter, Super Hornets, Hawkeyes, Osprey, and Seahawk.

To be true, Aircraft Carriers and their associated strike groups have remained effective, relevant, and potent year after year, decade after decade, because of their intrinsic adaptability, flexibility, sustainability, and perhaps most important, mobility – constantly evolving to meet and overmatch both realized and potential threats – always displaying the grit, toughness, tenacity, and innovation inherent in every Sailor, Marine, Civilian, and partner who make our fleet ready and lethal.

I don’t care what you see in the media about Russia this or China that – our carriers are feared.  And rightly so.  While they can build ‘carriers’ and take pictures all they want – our carriers are not just window dressing; they’re not just talking points – our carriers are ready to take the fight to any adversary, not at some distant point in time, but anytime, anywhere.  Because for a century now we have perfected the operational art of carrier employment, strike group maneuver, distributed operations, and defense-in-depth. For a century we have executed, assessed, learned, and refined our tactics – experiencing both triumphs and tribulations – we’ve pushed our designs, our hulls, our nuclear propulsion plants, and our combat systems to the edge and beyond – and through all of that, with confidence, we proudly walk tall, and carry a big stick. 

What I want to leave you with this evening is that designing, building, and operating an aircraft carrier, an air wing, and a strike group – is no easy feat. The collective effects that eleven battle tested aircraft carriers and their strike groups can bring to bear anywhere in the world is truly awe inspiring – nothing compares including within our on Joint Force.

Our carrier air wings are 2 to 3 times larger than any of our allies or competitors – and more importantly, our strike groups can generate 4 to 5 times more sorties per day than any other Navy.  That amount of striking power comes from the best engineers, the best designers, the best shipbuilders, and most of all, the best Sailors in the world.

And when we park that 100,000 tons of floating democracy off a foreign shore – whether to aid a nation in need or to destroy a hostile threat – no one else can match us, hands down.

It is an absolute certainty that for the last century, no one thing has had an impact on national security like the aircraft carrier. Now, and into the future, carriers and their associated strike groups will continue to be the centerpiece, the flagship of our great nation – an enduring symbol of freedom, democracy, and hope – and a constant reminder to all of the strength, resilience, and resolve of our nation and our Navy.

Once again, Donna and I thank each and every one of you for what you do every day to support our Navy team and our Navy families. It has been a true honor to spend this evening with such an amazing group of true patriots and warfighters – and we are proud to celebrate 100 years of Naval Aircraft Carriers – Thank you.
 
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