NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Tradition and change — both are a part of the United States Navy and both a part of what was taking place at Naval Station Norfolk Friday morning.
During a Change of Command ceremony, Captain Robert Clark Jr. assumed command of the largest Naval installation in the world.
“Never in a million years would I have seen this on the horizon, but my, how things change,” Clark said Friday.
The change Captain Clark spoke of has affected more than just his career. Extended deployments of eight to nine months has been one of the biggest recent changes in the Navy. The USS Truxtun and her crew are preparing to leave with the USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group for just such a deployment on Saturday.
“Honestly, I didn’t, I didn’t think of that. All they told me was gonna be as long as six months,” said Petty Officer Second Class Mohammed Yakubu of the USS Truxtun.
And when Yakubu joined the Navy, six months was the average length of a deployment.
“It’s very challenging for the families,” said Commander Andrew Biehn of the USS Truxtun. “I think it’s always a challenge to retain good Sailors and keep them in the Navy. We compete for talent.”
“My wife and I have talked about that, and we have not made a decision about whether I will stay or not. We’ll make it through the deployment and make a decision at that time,” said Cryptologic Technician Thomas Seymour of the USS Truxtun.
Naval Station’s Norfolk’s new commander will face another challenge in the months ahead as the size of the Norfolk-based fleet declines, due to budget restraints and orders to maintain forward deployed ships.
“The landscape does change,” Clarks said. “It changes from time to time, but again, those are decisions that are not made at our level.”
And Captain Clark is right — the landscape at Naval Station Norfolk will change, but one thing will remain constant. And that is the value of the base, both to the United States Navy and the United States of America.
Naval Station Norfolk has prepared and supported the fleet in every single U.S. conflict since World War I.