Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
For more information, contact:
Laura Seal (202) 685-5055
July 2, 2009
Civil Service Mariners Aboard USNS Richard E. Byrd Critical to Navy Ethos, Success
U.S. Navy press release by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Joshua Valcarcel, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs
USNS RICHARD E. BYRD, July 2 -- Civil service mariners (CIVMARS) aboard Military Sealift Command (MSC) dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4) embody the Navy Ethos and are making significant contributions to Pacific Partnership 2009.
CIVMARs are federal government employees who work and sail for MSC on U.S. government-owned ships.
Andrew Strosahl is a CIVMAR with the rank of second mate aboard Richard E. Byrd, taking part in Pacific Partnership 2009.
While others his age are just starting out in their careers, Strosahl, 25, is already well established in his field and in his role as the cargo mate on Richard E. Byrd. He happens to be one of the ship's more senior officers despite being one of the ship's youngest crew members.
"I'm learning every day, and I'll continue to learn, so I think so long as I respect other people, they tend to respect me," said Strosahl.
MSC ships support the Navy's combatant fleet by providing fuel, food, ordnance, parts and various other materials to ships at sea via underway replenishment. When the need arises, this web of underway replenishment allows the U.S. Navy to keep its vessels forward deployed for extended periods of time.
It's not uncommon for CIVMARs to deploy together for many years, and Strosahl's position as cargo mate is uncommon in that he holds an increased amount of authority and responsibility among peers who have far exceeded his time and experience at sea.
"I just try to learn from the more experienced people on board -- the unlicensed guys that have done this for a lot of years," said Strosahl. "They're the ones that I know I need to learn the most from because they're the ones with the most knowledge."
His responsibilities on board have only increased since Richard E. Byrd assumed role as the primary platform for the U.S. Navy's Pacific Partnership 2009.
Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted by, with and through partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. and international government agencies to execute a variety of humanitarian civic action missions in the Pacific Fleet Area of Responsibly.
"As an integral member of the Pacific Partnership team, we're pleased to be deploying with USNS Richard E. Byrd," said Capt. Andrew Cully, mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2009. "They are the most professional mariners in the world."
As the enabling vessel, Richard E. Byrd will carry humanitarian civic assistance equipment and supplies and a multi-specialized team of preventive medicine personnel, veterinarians, a medical and dental team and multi-skilled engineering personnel to Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga.
"We're the life support of the Pacific Partnership mission," said Military Sealift Command Capt. Robert Jaeger, ship's master. "We provide the cargo crane to support the mission's various types of support cargo: medical, dental, engineering type parts and materials as well as provide the housing for mission support personnel."
This temporary change in the ship's mission has put an incredible amount of responsibility on Strosahl, now charged with organizing and managing all of the ship's cargo and gear movement in a completely different way than what he's used to, but he remains flexible.
CIVMARs usually rotate four months at sea followed by one month at home. It's quite possible that out of a 20-year career as a CIVMAR, 16 of those years would have been spent on board a ship at sea. For Strosahl and the rest of the CIVMARs on board, Richard E. Byrd is home, or at least some aspect of it.
"I definitely have a certain affinity for the ship; I've had my same room for almost two years," said Strosahl. "I've lived more on the ship than I have in my house in [Dover,] New Hampshire, so it's definitely an extension of home.
"I'm proud of what I do. There's a certain sense of patriotism. I'm not just serving the armed forces in this role, but I'm supporting America."
For more news from Pacific Partnership, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacificpartnership/.
Return to 2009 Press Release archive...