Panetta Touts Carrier’s Agility in Visit to Enterprise

ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE, Jan. 22, 2012 — Air­craft car­ri­ers will con­tin­ue to be impor­tant to U.S. mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta told the crew of the USS Enter­prise yes­ter­day.

Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta and Navy Rear Adm. Wal­ter E. Carter Jr., com­man­der of Car­ri­er Strike Group 12, watch flight oper­a­tions aboard the air­craft car­ri­er USS Enter­prise in the Atlantic Ocean, Jan. 21, 2012. The Enter­prise Car­ri­er Strike Group is con­duct­ing a com­pos­ite train­ing unit exer­cise. U.S. Navy pho­to by Pet­ty Offi­cer 3rd Class Scott Pittman
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Enter­prise is under­way in the Atlantic Ocean in prepa­ra­tion for the ship’s 22nd and final deploy­ment fol­low­ing 50 years of naval ser­vice. “Car­ri­ers play a major role in our mil­i­tary, not only today, but they will play a role in our future,” Panet­ta said. “You are part of what keeps our force agile, flex­i­ble, quick­ly deploy­able and capa­ble of tak­ing on any ene­my any­where in the world.”

Fol­low­ing his arrival on the carrier’s flight deck via heli­copter, he was greet­ed by Navy Rear Adm. Wal­ter E. Carter, com­man­der of Car­ri­er Strike Group 12, and Navy Capt. William C. Hamil­ton Jr., Enter­prise com­mand­ing offi­cer.

Fol­low­ing a brief meet­ing, Panet­ta ate lunch with enlist­ed sailors on the mess decks and held an all-hands call for the more than 1,700 sailors and Marines aboard the ship.

“Even after 50 years of ser­vice, because of your tire­less work on ‘the Big E,’ there is no oth­er nation that can match this ship,” Panet­ta told the crew. “This is a great ship, and all of you are a great crew.”

The sec­re­tary admin­is­tered the re-enlist­ment oath to 21 sailors and pre­sent­ed awards to 10 more in the ship’s hangar bay.

“It’s an amaz­ing feel­ing, and it’s some­thing I nev­er thought would hap­pen,” said Navy Senior Chief Pet­ty Offi­cer Ramous K. Flem­ing, one of the sailors who re-enlist­ed. “It fills me with pride to get to stand in front of some­one as high-rank­ing as the sec­re­tary of defense and renew my com­mit­ment to my coun­try.”

Fol­low­ing the all-hands call, Panet­ta pre­sent­ed 200 sailors with his per­son­al coin.

“It was one of the coolest things I’ve done in my mil­i­tary career,” said Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class James Hol­man, the reac­tor labs lead­ing pet­ty offi­cer. “It’ll be cool to show my par­ents the SECDEF coin I received and the pic­ture I took with Mr. Panet­ta, because how many peo­ple can say they’ve met the sec­re­tary of defense?”

In the evening, Panet­ta ate din­ner in the Enter­prise ward­room with junior offi­cers before head­ing to the flag bridge to watch evening flight oper­a­tions.

“I’ve had a real­ly good tour,” Panet­ta said. “I enjoyed every aspect of the ship, but the great­est thrill was watch­ing the air­craft take­offs and land­ings — a thrill I will nev­er for­get.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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