YOKOSUKA, Japan – Vice Adm. William Merz, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visited the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) to assess the ship’s progress while it receives upgrades, Sept. 27.
Merz recently assumed command of U.S. 7th Fleet, and has been touring numerous warships across the Fleet Activities Yokosuka, waterfront.
While aboard, VADM Merz spoke of the ship’s responsibility to own their war fighting proficiency at all times. He stated that tactical proficiency “is an aspect of war fighting that cannot be stolen, only learned,” and praised Benfold for being a “vanguard” in this realm through its efforts to train the crew during its maintenance period.
Merz toured the ship and the dry-dock facility with members of the ship’s leadership, as well as representatives of the Navy’s Ship Repair Facility (SRF) Yokosuka. He also took the time to meet with Benfold’s officers and chief petty officers, as well as to personally recognize a group of high performing sailors working diligently to return the ship to the fight.
“In an era of renewed Great Power competition, the capability of warships such as Benfold to quickly and efficiently return to the fight cannot be understated,” said Cmdr. Robert McFarlin, Benfold’s commanding officer. “As such, the entire Benfold team has been engaged with our SRF Yokosuka teammates on a daily basis in actively seeking efficiencies to return the ship to the fight on-time and battle-ready, and is even pursing opportunities to complete the maintenance period ahead of schedule.”
McFarlin and his crew have named their mission of aggressively pursuing efficiencies Operation: Yorktown, a reference to the successful efforts of Navy and shipyard personnel to return the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) to the fight after sustaining heavy damages during the Second World War. Yorktown was assessed to have needed 90 days worth of repairs after fighting in the Battle of the Coral Sea, however it returned to service to participate in the Battle of Midway after undergoing only three days of emergency repairs.
One of Benfold’s high-performing Sailors, Gunner’s Mate Seaman Jennifer Aguirre of Winder, Ga, has been working tirelessly since she arrived in May, preserving the ship’s ammunition magazines and gun mounts. Aguirre was excited to have Merz visit the crew, commenting that her and her team “have been putting in a lot of hard work and effort and it is great to show Navy leadership the results of such teamwork and cooperation.”
Benfold is conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific region while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet's principal surface force.