Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Cruise_FINEX

Yesterday morning, GONZALEZ returned to our home port at the Norfolk Naval Base. While we missed our family and friends in Hampton Roads, it was great to be out to sea (including our 4th of July weekend stop at Mayport) for three weeks. And it was an excellent three weeks! I was exceptionally proud of everyone onboard. We worked and trained around the clock, accomplished our objectives, and did a phenomenal job of integrating our new Sailors into our underway routines. I was particularly proud of our 20 USNA Midshipmen and their GONZALEZ running mates. By the end of the three weeks, our Mids were indistinguishable from the crew. The deckplate skills and leadership lessons they learned will serve them well as future naval officers.

Our last 24 hours at sea certainly put our skills and endurance to the test. Following a morning General Quarters training session, we completed a two hour refueling at sea in the late afternoon and then five hours of day/night flight deck operations – finally finishing just after midnight. True to their resilience GONZALEZ Sailors were up early our final morning at sea, fresh water washing the decks in preparation for a flawlessly executed sea and anchor detail before returning to port.

So, we are now in our final preparations for our engineering assessment next week, and then we can settle into change of command preparedness. Only four weeks and two days remaining for me to command the best crew in the Navy. I envy my relief.

Change of command is shaping up to be a very special event though. In addition to the honor of hosting Mrs. Gonzalez and celebrating her birthday with her, we expect to also host her niece, a cousin of Freddy’s, possibly some Marines and a Navy chaplain who served with some of Freddy’s units, and even Freddy’s biographer. We are indeed a fortunate ship. - CO

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