Atlantic Ocean - During Exercise Saxon Warrior, the main focus was interoperability and robust training with the U.K. and other key allies across the spectrum of carrier strike group warfare areas.
Thomas James, a chaplain of the Royal Navy, arrived aboard USS
George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to exchange ideas with Cmdr. John Logan,
GHWBCSG's command chaplain, and gain understanding of how better to facilitate religious services for all service members.
"When people think of Saxon Warrior, their thoughts jump to the
tactical and operational side of the exercise," said Logan. "What they don't think about is the part that chaplains play in providing and promoting the free exercise of religion."
While Logan's assessment is the picture being presented to the media and the world, one of the lesser known examples of interoperability that can get lost in the mix is how religious services complement and enhance mission readiness.
"As we revitalize our carrier strike group and bring the HMS Queen
Elizabeth (R08) online, it's my job as a chaplain to learn from my U.S. counterparts about what carrier chaplaincy looks like up close and how to implement that into our own carriers," said James. "We're starting from scratch and learning as we go."
Along with preparing the U.K. carrier strike group's chaplain corps, James also said that chaplains from the U.S. and U.K. can be called upon to provide specific services if a ship is lacking one.
"So let's say there's an American carrier that is missing a Roman Catholic chaplain to conduct Mass," said James. "All they have to do is contact us, or the French, or any other ally in the area that has a that specific chaplain, and they can travel over there to provide the services needed."
Logan gave James a quick tour of GHWB, and afterwards the two
chaplains sat together in Logan's office to give James advice that he can take back to the U.K. Carrier Strike Group.
"I gained much insight today, and I feel I can take back what I learned to my command," said James. "Our partnership with the U.S. is one that we value tremendously, and when it came to preparing our revitalized carrier strike group, who better than our American friends?"
For Logan, it was an opportunity to not only foster another aspect of interoperability between the two nations, but to mentor a fellow chaplain as they prepare their strike group.
"For many of the chaplains that are deployed at other ships or commands, they are usually the only one there," said Logan. "There are times when they need guidance to accommodate service members. I know that Chaplain James will soon be in that position, and having him over here gave him a chance to connect with other chaplains for more insight."