The namesake of our ship, Vice Adm. John D. Bulkeley, was once asked, after a victory against incredible odds in the Atlantic theatre of World War II, how he had approached the battle with such confidence. His answer has since been recorded in numerous books and biographies. “What else could I do?” he asked. “You engage, you fight, you win. That is the reputation of our Navy, then and in the future.”
Sailors are drawn to the military for a variety of reasons: a sense of patriotic duty, a stable career full of potential, or the sense of adventure that comes with the lifestyle we live – travelling the high seas, experiencing foreign ports and local cultures, and meeting interesting people from around the world. But whatever brought us here, Bulkeley’s crew, the Wolfpack, has one thing in common – above all else, we are warfighters who Fight and Win as declared by our crew’s motto.
I’m excited to represent our country this month during the first of what will become a biennial multi-national exercise, Cutlass Fury 2016. This exercise, hosted by the Royal Canadian navy, brings together five NATO allies from across the Atlantic to participate in a dynamic, multi-threat environment as partners, with a focus on anti-submarine warfare.
Bulkeley is an incredibly capable and reliable anti-submarine warfare platform with a proven history of success. Our ship was the first in Norfolk to receive the newest and most sophisticated version of the SQQ-89 sonar suite, which, combined with our multi-function towed array puts our ship ahead of even her fellow destroyers, and our proficient team of operators and technicians earned the praise of the U.S. 5th Fleet theatre anti-submarine warfare commander, Rear Adm. William R. Merz, for their excellent performance on critical national tasking during our 2015-2016 deployment. But by far the greatest contribution Bulkeley brings to the table for this exercise, and what has made us successful at every mission we were given during our deployment, is our Wolfpack’s combat-oriented mindset. Our Sailors are tough warfighters who – no matter what challenges, operations or exercises come our way – engage, fight and win.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of exercises like Cutlass Fury. As we get underway from Halifax, Nova Scotia today, we are surrounded by ships from Canada, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. Breaking down barriers and learning to work cooperatively with our allies is a skill we constantly develop, and put into practice frequently in dynamic maritime environments such as the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The challenges faced by a modern naval power not only benefit from, but demand an international response. Exercises like Cutlass Fury allow us to learn the capabilities and limitations of our NATO partners to share tactics and strategies to strengthen our network of partners.
Standing alone, any Navy ship is a powerful force to be reckoned with, but together with our network of partners, we are unstoppable. During this exercise, we will keep the fighting spirit of Vice Adm. Bulkeley alive and strong by devoting all our efforts to maximizing this fantastic training opportunity. I encourage you to follow along on our Facebook page as we continue to Fight and Win – together.
Editor’s note: Cmdr. Allen enlisted in the Navy in 1990 and served for seven years before being commissioned in 1997. He has deployed in support of operations Noble Anvil, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve, and counter-piracy operations in the Horn of Africa. He assumed command of USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) in October 2015 and led the ship on an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th fleet areas of responsibility from November 2015 to July 2016.