Chief Of Naval Operations Visits Seabee Base - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Chief Of Naval Operations Visits Seabee Base

Hundreds of enlisted Seabees crowded the Gulfport base's theater to await an audience with the Chief of Naval Operations.  

"The base itself, it just needs to grow," says Petty Officer Clifton Wellman. "It needs to be updated, because basically it hasn't been updated over the last 10 years."

Knowing that Admiral Michael G. Mullen would be taking their questions, the Seabees were ready with some tough ones.  

"If you're training these Seabees on old tools, they show up on the front lines to get a job done and you've got brand new top of the line stuff for them, they're not going to know what to do," says Petty Officer Jerry McClanahan.  

But Admiral Mullen, who last visited in the days following Katrina, came with a message before giving answers.  

"I am very appreciative of all you do," says Mullen. "That particular memory is very vivid in my mind."

Mullen also praised them for their ongoing efforts in the war on terrorism.  

"What I want to do is just express my appreciation for all you are doing and the fact that you are serving, when you are serving, at a really critical time in our country's history and, I believe, the history of the world."

He acknowledges that world is changing. And in addressing their questions, Mullen continually assured them the Navy is changing with it.  

"I'm not just taking about base pay. I'm talking about that. I'm talking about bonuses. I'm talking about lifetime medical care."

Afterwards, Admiral Mullen said he understands the stresses and the frustrations some feel about the pace of those changes.  

"I think the Gulfport Seabee Base has always been on the radar. Clearly, the tragedy we had here a year ago got an awful lot of people's attention."

And he says Gulfport and it's growing needs will not be forgotten.

The Gulfport base is about to add another regiment made up of 750 personnel.

by Don Culpepper

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