Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith, right, speaks with Sailors aboard the mine countermeasures ship USS Devastator (MCM 6) during a visit to the Naval Support Activity Bahrain waterfront, Nov. 5. MCPON Smith is visiting Sailors and families stationed overseas to better understand the quality of life, force protection challenges, and vital mission sets of U.S. 5th Fleet units and the role they play in the region.

MANAMA, Bahrain

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith visited the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain, Nov. 5.

During his first stop to the fleet’s headquarters, Smith met with Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, and Command Master Chief Spike Call, U.S. 5th Fleet Command Master Chief, to discuss how Sailors contribute to 5th Fleet’s mission of ensuring maritime stability in the region.

“I’m honored to present our hardworking and knowledgeable Sailors to MCPON Smith,” said Call. “The work environment here in 5th Fleet provides a unique opportunity to enhance our Sailors’ skill sets, and showcase our ability to maintain a high level of professional discipline to anyone who comes through our doors.”

They also discussed the importance of strong partnerships with other navies in the region and how Sailors have played an important role in enhancing those relationships.

“I’m so thankful for our Sailors and families who are serving forward, close to the point of friction,” said Smith. “It can be challenging to be far away from home; to be at the edge of where we face challenges from an uncertain world. Your dedication truly highlights the sacrifices our greater Navy family makes on behalf of our freedom and prosperity.”

Smith also visited with Sailors assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 56 and forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) ships moored at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain waterfront.

During both stops, he spoke about the importance of 5th Fleet and how the execution of their duty was critical to broader U.S. interests.

“The mission our Sailors fulfill on behalf of our nation is invaluable, and requires us to hear their feedback directly - to ensure we are taking care of them as they endeavor to safeguard our national interests abroad.”  

Smith’s visit to 5th Fleet was part of a five-day trip where he met with Sailors and family members on board NSA Bahrain.

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

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