By Tim Ryan

In an unprecedented display of community and military cohesion, the United States Fleet Forces Command, in collaboration with the Hampton Roads Executive Round Table, hosted the inaugural Hampton Roads Executive Leader Day on April 12th. This landmark event was not just a meeting but a full immersion into the naval operations that are pivotal to the national security and local economy of Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The day began with a tour of the USS Porter (DDG 78), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer known for its versatile capability to engage in air, surface, and subsurface battles. The regional leaders were given a comprehensive look at the destroyer’s operations, which play a critical role in the Navy’s mission to maintain freedom of the seas.

The tour continued aboard the USS New Mexico (SSN 779), a Virginia-class attack submarine. Here, attendees were introduced to the submarine’s state-of-the-art technology and the unique lifestyle of submariners who operate these underwater behemoths.

Following the submarine visit, the group gathered at the Air Terminal for a Welcome and Safety Brief conducted by VRC 40, a Fleet Logistics Support Squadron known as the “Rawhides.” They facilitate the transfer of personnel and supplies necessary for carrier strike group operations.

The day’s pinnacle was the C2 Greyhound flight to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier stationed at the forefront of naval aviation and maritime strategy. The flight was an awe-inspiring experience for the attendees, offering them a bird’s-eye view of the operational might and logistical complexity of managing a nuclear-powered carrier.

The leaders also witnessed the exhilarating flight operations on the Truman’s flight deck, observing various aircraft as they launched off and touched back down on the moving runway. This powerful display of precision and coordination highlighted the skill and bravery of the sailors and aviators who operate these formidable machines.

The day concluded with a flight back to the air terminal, followed by a debriefing at the tour office. Each leader was awarded a certificate by Admiral D. L. Caudle, Commander of Fleet Forces Command, acknowledging their “superior commitment to public service and exceptional cooperation with U.S. Fleet Forces Command.”

The group was joined by Mr. Matthew Swartz, the Executive Director and Chief of Staff for U.S. Fleet Forces Command. His presence underscored the importance of the day’s events and provided additional insight into the strategic objectives of the Navy in the region. A special thank you was extended to Mr. Swartz and his team for orchestrating such a monumental day, which not only enhanced mutual understanding but also strengthened the bonds between the Navy and the Hampton Roads community.

As one attendee noted, “Everyone walked away with a great appreciation of the Navy and what it takes to be the world’s premier fighting force.” This statement encapsulates the profound impact of the day, deepening the community’s respect and admiration for the Navy’s critical role in national and global security.

This event marked a significant step in bridging the gap between the civilian sector and the military, illustrating the mutual benefits of such partnerships. The tours and briefings of the day highlighted the strategic, economic, and community-oriented roles that the Navy fills, bringing to life the intertwined destinies of Hampton Roads and the naval defense framework.

The Hampton Roads Executive Leader Day not only fostered a greater understanding but also highlighted the critical importance of community leaders in supporting and advocating for naval initiatives. As these leaders returned to their constituencies, they carried with them a greater appreciation and a renewed commitment to supporting our nation’s naval forces, ensuring ongoing collaboration that promises to enhance both our community’s welfare and national security.

The event stands as a testament to the unity and strength possible when military and community leaders come together, paving the way for a future where such cooperation continues to flourish and define the prosperous and secure community of Hampton Roads.