Rear Admiral Brian Fort assumed command of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific last month. Back in June he was all set to have a change-of-command ceremony with Rear Admiral John Fuller when he was assigned to become investigating officer of the USS Fitzgerald collision in Japan.
This morning on Wake Up 2day, Rear Admiral Fort joined us in studio to talk about two tragedies involving Navy vessels.
“I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words about these two collisions which resulted in the loss of 17 shipmates, 7 onboard Fitzgerald and 10 onboard John S. McCain,” says Rear Admiral Fort. “I had only been on island a few days when I got the call that I was being appointed to lead the Fitzgerald investigation. While I certainly can’t talk about specifics, I’ll share what I said to the team who supported me. I told them we best honor those Sailors, their families, and the generations who follow by conducting an exceptionally thorough and complete investigation. An investigation like this is not something you want to be proud of, but I am very proud of the very thorough and very complete investigation and root cause analysis we conducted. I’m sure the Admiral leading the McCain investigation feels the same.”
He continued, “What will continue to remain most important to me is keeping the Fitzgerald and McCain ohana in our thoughts and in our hearts not just in the short term, but on every Memorial Day and for as long as we have ships named Fitzgerald and John S. McCain,” says Rear Admiral Fort.
Rear Admiral Fort says here in Hawaii the Navy trains sailors and tests ships in realistic situations and they appreciate the support they receive. He says training and testing can prevent accidents at sea.
Rear Admiral Fort has a strong connection to Hawaii. Earlier in his career he served as Operations Officer for USS Ingersoll and then USS Lake Erie. He also had the privilege of serving as XO of USS Port Royal right after 9/11.
As for Rear Admiral Fuller he is now Carrier Strike Group 1 commander in San Diego.
Rear Admiral Fort says he’s looking forward to a special celebration in October for the Navy’s birthday as well as the Makahiki games in November at the Joint Base, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on December 7 and RIMPAC next summer.
“I could probably take up your entire news show talking about history and heritage,” he said. “Just this past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at an End of WWII commemoration onboard the Battleship Missouri and then visited the Bishop Museum to see a series of Tahitian Sporting competitions. Next month, of course, we are excited to celebrate the Navy’s Birthday which will include an unveiling of a new Lone Sailor statue at the National Park on Ford Island. We celebrate the Makahiki in November at the Joint Base and of course, we will honor National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on December 7 – this year at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. And I’m really looking forward to RIMPAC, with dozens of visiting ships and tens of thousands of international participants, next summer. I lasted participated in RIMPAC in 2002 so it’s been a while for me.”
Rear Admiral Fort is wearing have two hats here.
“As Region Commander we have two installations, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam here on Oahu and Pacific Missile Range Facility (Barking Sands) on Kauai,” says Rear Admiral Fort. “The Joint Base is home to nearly two hundred tenant commands, both Air Force and Navy which provide top-notch logistics support here in the center of the Pacific. Personally and professionally, I’m excited about the opportunity to meet and engage with as many people as I can during my tour. I’ve told my staffs they need to be able to answer two questions at any time, ‘Are you ready to tonight?’ and ‘Are you making a difference?’ If the answers are yes and yes, then I think we’re doing okay.”
PMRF is the world’s largest instrumented range, capable of supported surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously.
As MIDPAC commander, he oversees the 10 surface ships that are home ported at Pearl Harbor.
“We help Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Swift ensure security, stability and prosperity,” says Rear Admiral Fort. “Hawaii is key to our nation’s defense and the defense of our friends and allies.”