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Dr. Hamre's Remarks at the Commissioning at the USS BRIDGE, Seattle, Wash.

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. John J. Hamre
August 05, 1998

Dr. Hamre: Good morning to you all. Thank you very much. Let me echo what the Admiral has said. While we are here today to commission this new ship, we are really here to celebrate the real piece of weaponry that has made America the greatest military power in the world, and that is the remarkable young men and women who are standing before you today. We all sleep peacefully at night because we are willing to put the burdens of military life in their hands everyday, and we owe them our unending thanks. (Applause)

So, as you are going around the ship today, and when you see these young men and women put out their hand, shake it and say, "Thank you - thank you for serving America." Admiral Clemins, Rear Admirals Center and Sargent, Dick Vortman, Captain Williams, Master Chief Llamzon, to the crew of the Bridge, to all our distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and especially to my wife, who really is responsible and got me here today, I am very grateful to you and thankful to be with all of you today. (Applause)

Today is a very special day for us, for Julie and me. It is an honor for me to be here. We have a little shrine in our house for the Bridge; we got a few more mementos here on this visit and we will remember to be thankful for the crew and this ship everyday. I am very proud to be associated with America's newest and finest fast combat support ship, and I am glad too to be here in Seattle.

Today is the day that we congratulate those who have made this great ship possible -- the men and women of the Navy, the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, the city and the people of Bremerton, Captain Williams and the crew of the Bridge, who have come to bring their ship to life. Today is a day that we recognize the immense importance of this ship to the Navy. The Bridge will play an absolutely vital role in projecting American power around the globe. True to her name, she will bridge the seas, carrying the lifeblood of naval power to our forces in the far-flung corners of the earth. This Bridge is indeed a crucial link between America and protecting America's interests.

Today is a day that we look forward to the future, to the horizon toward which the Bridge will sail. As we near the next century, America stands as the world's only superpower and our Navy is a pillar of that power. We pay a very high price to sustain our ability to be a force for security and stability around the world. We ask America's finest young men and women to serve and to sacrifice far from home. In times of tranquility, it is easy to forget that it is their service that underpins peace and prosperity in the world. Their service, the service of people like the sailors who stand before you today, will be even more important in the future even than it is now.

We live in an age in which we ask them to undertake more missions in more places in what is still a very dangerous world. Months and years from this day, as the USS Bridge carries out her missions on distant seas, let us continue to honor their service to this country. It is with tremendous pride that we will see this great ship come to life, and sail from America and for America. May God grant you fair winds and following seas. We pray that God will grant you the strength and the courage that make you an example of all that is great in America. God Bless you and God Bless this great land of liberty. (Applause)