Story by MC1 Grant Ammon
Photo by MC1 Dennis Cantrell

As the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) travels west and visits ports around the globe, leaders throughout the strike group are implementing plans aimed at safe and successful port visits with the crew serving as ambassadors and a goal of zero liberty incidents.

The effort of focus, ‘Liberty with a Purpose … Every Sailor Impacts the Mission’, is a comprehensive program designed to enable the Sailors of JCSCSG to productively serve the nation in the role of Sailor-Ambassadors while having fun and enjoying the culture of a host country.

“We are ambassadors of the United States every time we set foot on foreign soil,” said Stennis’ Command Master Chief (AW/SW/ SS) Stan Jewett. “Our Sailors may

very well be the only Americans that citizens of host countries ever encounter. Their perception of what America is and who Americans are can be created by the actions of the Sailors from this ship and the embarked air wing.”

While Sailors are encouraged to enjoy their liberty by taking in local attractions or learning more about a host nation’s culture, they also carry with them the responsibility of creating and fostering a positive image for the United States.

“Our goal is for our Sailors to have fun with zero incidents, but they are still on a mission,” said Jewett. “Making a port visit is actually a diplomatic mission for the crew. We need to keep in mind that we’re a part of something larger than ourselves. We represent our ship, the United States Navy and our nation.”

According to Carrier Air Wing 9’s Command Master Chief (AW/ SCW) Bill Rosch, successful mission accomplishment requires in-depth planning prior to execution, because positive achievement does not happen by accident.

“When our Sailors depart on liberty they’re expected to have a solid plan so they’re less likely to be in a position to make bad decisions,” said Rosch. “This stuff needs to be thought out ahead of time.”

Rosch went on to compare the mission of liberty to the operational mission of the crew while serving at sea.

“We don’t just put jets on catapults and hope they launch successfully,” said Rosch. “We don’t put Sailors on the brow and hope they have a successful liberty mission. This is definitely a planned evolution.”

One principle tenant of ‘Liberty with a Purpose’ calls for tapping into and empowering the leadership and experience of the Chiefs Mess. The sage advice coming from divisional and departmental Chief Petty Officers will provide professional and personal behavior models for the Sailors they lead.

“We, as representatives from the Chiefs Mess, need to have Sailors thinking about and creating liberty plans well before we arrive in a foreign port,” said Jewett. “Then we’re going to ensure each plan is thoroughly reviewed to see if they pass the common sense test. If the plans don’t pass the test, we need to get our Sailors on track before an issue occurs. ”

As the JCSCSG conducts operations around the world, crew members focus their efforts on bringing the same pride and professionalism to the mission of liberty as they bring to direct fleet operations.

JCSCSG arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations Aug. 16. While in 7th Fleet, the carrier strike group will conduct maritime engagements and port visits to enhance partnerships and promote peace and stability in the region.