Story by USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Public Affairs
Photo by MC3 Will Tyndall

ARABIANGULF – As the ships, Sailors and aircraft of USS John C. Stennis Strike Group conduct operations in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom, leadership from across the group paused Oct. 17 to hold a virtual town hall meeting for friends and family via the internet video conferencing portal Defense Connect Online.

Rear Adm. Craig Faller, Commander JCSSG, Capt. Ronald Reis,

Commanding Officer USS John C. Stennis, Capt. Dale Horan, Commander Carrier Air Wing Nine and Capt. Marc Dalton, Commander Destroyer Squadron 21 hosted the meeting that focused on communicating with friends and family members of the strike group.

“Undoubtedly, the separation that comes with this deployment brings stress to you and your families, said Faller during his address. “I want to uses this forum to answer your questions and help to relieve any of the anxieties you may be feeling. I truly believe knowledge is critical to alleviating anxiety.”

More than 181 friends and family members were able to engage in near real time with leadership during the meeting and used the opportunity to ask a host of questions on topics ranging from future port visits for the ships, shipboard mail delivery, and the Perform to Serve program.

Faller went on to note the importance of direct communication with family members has on the Navy and the Sailors serving under his care.

“Communicating with families, informing them of our mission and ensuring them of the Navy’s commitment reinforces a strong family connection which helps Sailors focus on their day to day tasks,” said Faller. “Families are an integral part in uplifting Sailors morale, encouraging them to excel. If families back home are not well informed they have a tendency to worry increasing pressure upon our Sailors.”

Connecting strike group leadership with family members over voice and video chat from across the globe proved to be technically challenging, but dedicated information systems technicians aboard Stennis were able to keep the group connected.

“The biggest challenge we faced with setting up this video conference was bandwidth,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Thaddeus Boyd, Leading Petty Officer of JCSSG’s N-6 division, the division responsible for connecting the groups. “We had to put the ship into a restrictive web condition that only allowed critical information to leave the ship in order to free up limited bandwidth and support the town hall meeting.”

The meeting, lasting an hour, allowed both groups to communicate seamlessly with nearly zero interruptions.

“We were able to keep the two groups connected with almost zero deficiencies,” said Boyd. “There was a little problem with latency that caused the audio to delay, but participating in this conference was definitely worth the effort and technical troubleshooting. There is no other forum for our families back home to be able to actually see and hear the higher chain of command gather to talk and answer questions.”

Faller concluded the discussion by thanking attendees and emphasizing the important role families play in the success of the Navy.

“I want to thank all the families that joined us today,” said Faller. “The Navy has some of the most advanced technology and weapons systems in the world, but it is the strength of our families that guides and directs us through each mission during deployment.”

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