Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today is Veterans Day and the final day USS New York (LPD 21) will be in port NYC. Her Sailors and Marines will partake in the City's annual Veterans Day events, to include the Mayoral breakfast at Gracie Mansion, the Eternal Light Monument Ceremony at Madison Square Park and the Veterans Day Parade that struts up Fifth Avenue. If you are in the City and haven't stopped by already, she will be open for one last block of general public visitation from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pier 88.

One last hoorah for NEW YORK and her crew. I hope you can make it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What an incredible week this has been for USS New York (LPD 21)! From Mayor Mike Bloomberg visiting the ship via LCAC ride to watch Game 5 of the World Series with the crew, to the Salute to Ground Zero on November 2, the day she first sailed up New York Harbor. From the official Welcome Ceremony as she first pulled-in pier side at Manhattan's Pier 88, to the First Responders tours the following day. From the broadcast on the ship's flight deck of radio show "Montel Across America," to the broadcast of "Fox and Friends" the very next day. And, finally, from 30 Sailors and Marines watching the Yankees beat the Phillies at Yankee Stadium to win the World Series, to general public visitation for all New Yorkers to see her, this truly has been an extraordinary time for celebration for the Navy, Marine Corps and NYC. I feel very blessed to be a part of this momentous occasion.

But today is the day we have all been waiting for. Today, PCU New York will be officially commissioned a United States Ship (USS) by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus; keynote speakers for the ceremony will include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Governor David Patterson and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The commissioning ceremony will not only be broadcast LIVE at 11 a.m. EST on, but will also be broadcast simultaneously on the Thomson Reuters screen in Times Square for all New Yorkers to see.

Yes, today is an awesome day for the Navy and New York! See you at the commissioning.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In only a few short hours USS New York (LPD 21) pulls into Manhattan's Pier 88. Wow, has time flown by these past several months. The City is buzzing in anticipation of its arrival, and today a few lucky distinguished visitors were flown out to the ship via Marine Corps helicopters to spend a memorable overnight on board with the crew.

Rumor has it a very, very distinguished visitor may be headed to the ship tonight specifically to watch the next Yankees world series game with New York's Sailors and Marines. How I would love to be on board to witness all the excitement.

See you tomorrow, New York!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yesterday USS New York (LPD 21) left its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia for New York City, and it is the last time the ship will set sail as a pre-commissioned unit (PCU). Prior to a ship's commissioning, it is classified as a PCU; so what will change on November 7, when she will be officially commissioned a U.S. Navy warship? Nothing but the title, because it is the ship's crew and the ship builders who built her that make-up the heart and soul of what truly has become a living, breathing military asset.

Often times we don't think of our Naval forces in that way. When we hear in the media about ships fighting off pirates near the Horn of Africa or providing humanitarian assistance for tsunami and hurricane relief, we conjure up images of large deck platforms of grey steel in our minds. But like any military unit that is tasked to carry out the orders of the President of the United States, it's the sons and daughters of the American people who ultimately make that call to action, whether serving boots on the ground, flying through air and space, or sailing on the deck plates. In fact, Sailors in the U.S. Navy serve in all of those capacities -- that's why I think serving in the Navy is the coolest job around.

Only three more days until our newest Navy ship carrying Sailors and Marines on board pulls into the City. I'm looking forward to the crew members sharing some of their heart and soul with New Yorkers -- always makes for a festive occasion in a place where people know first-hand about duty and sacrifice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm headed to the JFK airport in just a couple of hours to welcome home my new deputy after he served a six-month deployment, boots-on-the-ground, in Baghdad. Needless to say it will be quite an emotional event joined by his wife, family and close friends in the area. He, like me, is a Navy public affairs officer, and I am very much looking forward to hearing the "inside scoop" on how operations, specifically military public affairs and media relations, are fairing in our nation's War in Iraq.

The timing of his return is impeccable. At the peak of all the planning of fanfare and festivities surrounding the USS New York (LPD 21) commissioning, this moment gives me time to pause and reflect on exactly why this commissioning is so special. With seven and a half tons of World Trade Center steel in its hull, this unique ship unites our nation's past, present and future like no other, because so long as we have dedicated forces fighting to preserve freedom the world over, we will always have cause to celebrate those who have taken part in that preservation of freedom -- through an election-win, or a ship's commissioning, or even a welcome home gathering.

My deputy, a native New Yorker, is returning home safely, and we have all the reason in the world to be grateful and proud of his service to our nation. Welcome home, Sean!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today, USS New York (LPD 21) pulls into its new home port in Norfolk, Va. for the very first time. I can only imagine the excitement brewing over this special homecoming on this soon-to-be Hallows Eve. Though, as an adopted New Yorker, I trust that the Norfolk reception won't be half as exciting or well attended as when she sails up the Hudson for the very first time!

At 7:30 a.m. on Monday, November 2, there will be a gathering at the World Financial Center North Cove, and the 9/11 community and general public are encouraged to attend. It is there, at approximately 8:00 a.m., where USS New York will bring her engines to all stop to pause, dip her national ensign, and give the highest military honor, a 21-gun salute, to Ground Zero. It will be quite a viewing party; the Navy NYC public affairs office is working with Battery Park City to make this a tremendous event for all.

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

USS New York (LPD 21) gets underway for the last time from its birthplace at the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana today. It is leaving for its new home port in Norfolk, Virginia, and the people of Avondale and the greater New Orleans area are giving the ship a proper, if sentimental, send-off. For them, USS New York has special meaning beyond the 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center that is now molded into the bow stem of the ship. For it was after the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent, inevitable delay to the ship building schedule when the shipyard workers who began work on LPD 21 vowed to return to the post-Katrina greater New Orleans area and finish what they had started. It took them five years in total to complete the construction, and finish it they did -- as war ships go, this one looks nothing short of spectacularly stealthy. A modern marvel. Just plain awe-inspiring.

Today the residents of Avondale and the greater New Orleans area are lining the levees as a salute to see their ship off. I think it both fitting and right that they honor the ship in this way. Through USS New York the people of New Orleans will forever be connected, at first through tragedy and later through triumph, with New Yorkers. And on November 2nd, the day USS New York will sail up New York Harbor for the very first time, New Yorkers will give its ship and the Louisianans who made her a reciprocating return salute, welcoming a 7.5 ton piece of the World Trade Center home.

Fair winds and following seas, Louisiana! USS New York is heading home.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm always extremely proud to be serving my country but on Friday, September 11, 2009 I felt especially so. That day four CPO-selectees (first class petty officers about to become senior non-commissioned officers), three chiefs, a color guard and the commanding officer of USS New York were invited to attend the Yankees USS New York 9/11 Tribute game at Yankee stadium, which also happened to be the game where Derek Jeter hit his historic 2,722nd hit, besting Lou Gehrig's record for most hits by a Yankees player.

As a public affairs officer the responsibilities of my job include first and foremost telling the Navy's story to our various audiences, preferably through our Sailors themselves as sometimes even our most junior enlisted can speak clearest and with very few words. That historic day, however, I couldn't help but get in on the excitement, walking onto Yankee field for the pre-game ceremony with the New York Sailors and members of the USS New York commissioning committee, including the ship's sponsor, Dotty England.

Having been my second 9/11 anniversary spent in NYC, I know that it will always be a very solemn, private day for New Yorkers. But last Friday was perhaps the first time where I personally felt we are approaching a time of healing and hope for future anniversaries to come, if only inspired by a legend of America's favorite past time.

Friday, July 31, 2009

There's been a lot of chatter in the news recently about social media and its utilization by government officials. The prominent issue that's being kicked around is the appropriate use of social media by private citizens who serve our nation in an official government capacity and, many times, have the need to be discreet whether revealing their specific geographical location or discussing sensitive details of projects or plans on which they are working. Some say that the distinction is obvious for what information should and should not be released out in the open for public consumption, to be seen / heard / read / digested / tweeted / retweeted / etc. In this era of incredible, unprecedented information accessibility I, for one, am both relieved and optimistic that this conversation is taking place in both social and mainstream media circles.

Take for example CNN Audience Interaction Producer Eric Kuhn's article, "Do quick tweets sink ships?" (a play on the classic WWII era slogan, "loose lips sink ships"), posted yesterday. It discusses Representative Mark Kirk who is running for Senate in Illinois and also happens to be a Navy Reservist. According to the article, Kirk tweeted, real-time, about serving at the Pentagon's National Military Command Center while on military duty. While I understand the two issues at stake the article brought into question -- should he have revealed his geographical location (the Pentagon) or is there a conflict of interest in that he was tweeting as a military official who is running for an office under his claimed political party (he's a Republican) -- what really got me was the other piece of information that was released by his spokesman, that "two messages noting his service were posted on Twitter by a staff member." Excuse me? Does anyone else see something wrong with this?

Not so obvious a distinction, especially when credibility is absolutely fundamental to the medium in which we communicate. It raises the age-old question, should some things just be left unsaid?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today Navy Admiral James Stavridis becomes the American and NATO commander in Europe. There is a nice piece featuring him and the challenges he will face in his new position in today's New York Times. As a professional communicator, I've been very impressed with Admiral Stavridis's savvy in using social media to communicate not only with his internal audiences -- service members, DoD families and former military -- but also his external audiences. Specifically, the media.

I hate to admit that I didn't always feel this way. When about six months ago I first heard of Admiral Stavridis personally authoring entries for the U.S. Southern Command blog "In the Americas" (superb, by the way) or his penchant to use Facebook to respond directly to media queries (and thereby, in my mind, usurping the responsibilities of his command public affairs officer), I thought for someone in his position of authority he was being a bit cavalier in communicating with his external audiences. But as I learned more about his impeccable professional background and personal leadership style through both people who've served with or under him AND media sources, I began to understand and respect his incredible talent as a Navy communicator. And I also began to understand and respect the incredible power of social media; began to embrace what it offers to every single one of us who chooses to use it and its undeniable influence on more traditional, main stream media resources.

I believe for someone of his military position (a four-star admiral, currently it doesn't get any higher than that), he is blazing a trail for other flag level officers to follow. And from the accolades he gets for his professional accomplishments, I can only surmise he is exceptional at all faculties of his job, no matter what challenges are placed before him. That is what I expect from a leader -- military, corporate or otherwise. Someone who is exceptional in every area of their command, and I don't think that's something easy to come by no matter what sector you consider. Yes, at the helm of our military forces are some of our nation's finest thinkers, leaders and talent, period. I'm proud to serve under them.

I think the Times put it best with the title of its article, "For a Post in Europe, a Renaissance Admiral." At this particular time in our nation's history, I think Renaissance leaders are just what we need.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One of the many perks of being stationed in New York City is the numerous business luncheons and social benefits I get invited to as a representative member of the military. Often times local businesses and organizations want to include the military as part of their honoree or awards functions, sometimes even honoring military members as awardees. This past Wednesday's Women of Concern annual awards luncheon was such an event I found especially enlightening.

Concern Worldwide, I learned this week, is an NGO dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries. Their work for displaced women and children in the Darfur region of Sudan was highlighted at the awards luncheon, as Ernst and Young's Global Vice Chair Beth Brooke and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairperson of the American Ireland Fund, were honored.

I considered myself very fortunate to be included as a guest to this luncheon because I was reminded of just how important it is for our government to foster diplomacy in troubled regions of the globe by leveraging closely coordinated relationships with not-for-profit organizations and NGOs. During her speech, Brooke spoke of how great business leaders today understand that companies, NGOs and organizations around the world need to work together for all societies, big and small. She then followed with a comparison of statistics involving strategic investments in women -- domestically, if a business invests in women at the top of their organizational structure, those institutions perform financially better than those that do not; globally, it's proven that if you invest in women of third world countries, those women turn around 90 percent of their earnings and feed it back into their societies. Brooke concluded her remarks by saying that now, in today's financially troubled times, is an opportunity to collaborate and invest in an improved business model, leveraging diversity.

An impressive and uplifting notion, indeed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yesterday's Memorial Day ceremonies throughout NYC reminded me of why I love this great city -- because I believe there's no place on Earth quite like New York where people are so outwardly grateful and appreciative of their men and women in uniform. New York Fleet Week serves as a great testament to that belief. In fact, it's a rare day when I wear my summer whites out and about the City that I'm not stopped by several people on the streets saluting me and asking me what I do in the service. Many times they look shocked to hear that I'm stationed right here in Midtown Manhattan. "I do public relations for the Navy," I say. They usually respond with a confused look on their face and then mumble something about not knowing there were ships stationed in New York City.

I smile as we part ways because I know how lucky I am to be assigned here. In fact it's down right humbling to serve as the City's face of the Navy, representing some of the hardest working people in the military. I'm talking about our deck plate enlisted Sailors who are manning 12-hour port and starboard watches in ships' CIC and still find time to get their warfare quals so that they can advance in their rate. Or the brand spanking-new ensign, otherwise known as the "George," who gets stuck with the mid-watch in three section rotation. Or the countless other watches, duties and responsibilities our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen take on everyday -- many of them (Sailors) deployed as boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan that people don't even know about much less consider on a semi-regular basis.

Memorial Day is a great reminder of the daily sacrifice these service members make because it is a time when we honor and remember those who have served and gone before us. Perhaps it's fitting that Memorial Day falls toward the end of our week of fun, celebration and festivities. Tomorrow the ships leave for their home port stations in Norfolk and Mayport.

Last call for New York Fleet Week.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

If you've been following my Twitter updates you know that I've had the privilege to attend Fleet Week events and talk to the media with 24 Sailors from the pre-commissioning unit USS New York (LPD 21), including the prospective commanding officer, Commander Curt Jones. Commander Jones is a native of New York, having grown up in Binghampton, and is in my opinion a perfect fit for the commissioning CO of the latest warship to be named after this great city and state.

Yesterday I had the honor of accompanying Commander Jones to the 9/11 Tribute Center located near ground zero. Though I've been tweeting from the myriad locations we have traveled to about the City over the past couple of days, as we entered the center my brain was completely stilled with imagery and audio recalling that fateful day on September 11, 2001; tweeting was the furthest thing from my mind.

The mission of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center is to offer visitors to the World Trade Center site a place where they can connect with people from the September 11th community. Through walking tours, exhibits and programs, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers "Person to Person History," linking visitors who want to understand and appreciate these historic events with those who experienced them.

This week Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen participating in New York Fleet Week are taking tours of the 9/11 Tribute Center. Of those, the Sailors from USS New York pre-commissioning crew took their own personalized tours of the center. With seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center site in the bow of the ship, for these Sailors the 9/11 Tribute Center visit carried with it an even deeper meaning of duty and sacrifice.

After having spent the past couple of days with them I can tell you that it is humbling to be in the presence of the USS New York commissioning crew. They know that theirs is a special warship, and they are proud to be a part of this exceptional time in the life of the ship. Somehow, by virtue of being assigned to New York City at the time of the commissioning, I, too, am fortunate enough to be a part of this extraordinary experience. On November 7, 2009, from the very pier where USS Iwo Jima now sits, USS New York will be commissioned. I can't help but allow the New York Sailors' enthusiasm to rub off on me. I'm so proud to serve the Navy in New York and I look forward to the fall, when the USS New York Sailors bring their ship to life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The kick-off to New York Fleet Week '09 is finally here! Whether watching the Navy Band Northeast play on the Today Show; seeing the Commander, Second Fleet, Vice Admiral Melvin Williams throw out the Yankee's first pitch; or celebrating with Joan Jett at the Hard Rock Cafe crew's party, today the fleet is on the street. It's a great day to celebrate the sea services and its rich heritage rooted here in New York.

So let's 'splice the main brace' and celebrate!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today, Navy ethics training. Tomorrow, the world. Well, at least the City and all its offerings for what promises to be another successful New York Fleet Week. Over one hundred Fleet Week support team members have descended upon NYC, including active duty, government civilians and reserves. The one training topic that proves critical in ensuring continued Fleet Week success? A lesson in our Navy Ethos.

Now ethics training isn't exactly what I consider the most riveting topic I've had to learn, but I'd be remiss not to mention that it makes me very proud to be part of an organization that, I believe, not only practices but embodies the code of ethics that we are taught. Do I consider myself an ethically-obsessed military member, constantly thinking and rethinking my every action as if the weight of the world rested upon my own moral, mortal judgement (sorry, OJAG)? Hardly. But I think it's the common thread that binds every Sailor to what we hold near and dear to our hearts. And that's the privilege to serve our nation as a member of the United States Navy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today was an entire day's worth of New York Fleet Week '09 final planning for all those last-minute details that needed to be addressed. I suspect with all the fun that's to be had celebrating our sea services as our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen take to the City on liberty call, many people are left completely unaware of all the dedicated people, parts and processes that go into an event on the scale of Fleet Week New York. Of course, if we did our jobs correctly, that's exactly the effect we'll achieve. Over six months' worth of coordination and meetings go into the planning; an enormous community and multi-service event, all the dizzying details are enough make any special events coordinator's head spin! With Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard participation, New York Fleet Week is a superb example of our maritime strategy's concept and coordination in action.

Let's hope this year's Fleet Week planning will provide an enjoyable, smooth sailing experience for our service members and New Yorkers alike!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The count-down is on! Only four days left until our Navy ships roll into the Hudson River for a week's worth of sea service celebration during New York City Fleet Week 2009 (note: when you click on the link, you must also click "continue to the site"), May 20-27. Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen will be the toast of the town as year after year the City graciously rolls out the red carpet to host our service members during this highly anticipated annual kick-off to the unofficial beginning of summer.

Follow my Twitter updates at @NYCNavygirl as I attend fleet week events with the commanding officer of USS New York (LPD 21), Commander Curt Jones. We'll visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum, Gracie Mansion, and much, much more! In addition, 28 Sailors from the USS New York's crew will be riding IWO JIMA up to partake in Fleet Week activities and talk to New Yorkers first-hand about the up-coming commissioning as an informal introduction of New York's very own service members. Give them a big welcome as they get to know the City during Fleet Week sponsored events as well as out on town on liberty.

Built with a hull containing seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center attacks, USS New York is a San Antonio class U.S. Navy warship that is currently under construction at the Northop Grumman shipyard in Avondale, Louisiana. After the ship's commissioning on November 7, 2009, to take place right here in New York City, USS New York's primary mission will be to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies to support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the globe.

Below is the press release just out today announcing our ships participating in New York Fleet Week '09.

Viva la vida marina!


Ships head to New York for Fleet Week
May 16, 2009

A flotilla of U.S. Navy ships and thousands of Sailors and Marines set sail Monday morning from Norfolk, Va., to participate in the 22nd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 20 - 27.

The ships heading up the East Coast for this year’s Fleet Week commemoration are the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) with a special purpose Marine air/ground task force embarked, and the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), both homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.; patrol coastal ships USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Hurricane (PC 3) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.; and the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), homeported in Mayport, Fla. Iwo Jima and Roosevelt will be moored in Manhattan; and Vella Gulf, Tempest, Hurricane and Thunderbolt will be moored at Staten Island.

The ships will parade into New York Harbor Wednesday morning, May 20.

Two U.S. Coast Guard vessels and five Canadian navy vessels will also join Wednesday’s Parade of Ships.

Hosted nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week New York is the City’s celebration of the sea services. This event also provides an opportunity for the citizens of New York City and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services.

In addition to public visitations of participating ships, May 21 – 26, there will be a number of exhibits showing off the technology of our maritime services and the skilled expertise of our service members. More information is available on the official Fleet Week New York website at, then click on the link for Fleet Week New York City.