By Ensign Davis Anderson, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN – Vice President Joe Biden visited the Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) July 14, while the ship and John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) were participating in the Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise.
The visit, which occurred just one day before the six-month mark of their current deployment, gave Biden an opportunity to thank the crew, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 and strike group staffs, for the work they have done operating in the the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations and specifically the South China Sea.
“I am humbled and I am honored to be here with you today,” said Biden. “On behalf of everyone back at home, ‘Thanks.’”
Biden added that the importance of JCSSG’s deployment could not be understated and that the Sailors had helped demonstrate everyone’s right to operate on the oceans of the world.
“Without us, the rest of the world would be in a very different place,” said Biden. “That’s what makes you so incredible, your devotion to duty.”
During his time aboard, Biden ate lunch with Sailors who hailed from his home state of Delaware.
“It was very humbling,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jeffrey Davenport, from Seaford, Delaware. “We talked a lot about Delaware. I didn’t want to talk politics with him because he was here to have a good time and see the ship and the Sailors. What I took away was the realization that even though he is higher ranking, he is just a person, and relating to him on that level was very enlightening.”
Biden also watched flight operations during his stay and spoke with leaders from the ship and strike group.
“The Vice President’s visit highlights the importance of this strike group’s operations while deployed to the Western Pacific,” said Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, JCSSG commander. “It was an honor to welcome him aboard while participating in the Rim of the Pacific exercise with so many partner navies.”
Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 14, 41, 97 and 151.
For more news from the John C. Stennis Strike Group visit www.stennis.navy.mil or www.facebook.com/stennis 74.