The November General Membership Luncheon meeting was held on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel. The guest speaker for this luncheon was RADM Thomas K. Shannon, Commander, Military Sealift Command, who spoke of the need for industry to assist MSC in identifying ways to operate more efficiently, and to attract more contract bids from the local ship repair industry, stating simply, "help us help you."
RADM Shannon spoke solemnly about the announced layoffs and WARN notices across the port, saying, "I want to be part of the solution," and speaking of the projected workload for MSC over the next 5 years. He informed the membership that MSC has up to 170 ships in operation at any given time, and discussed the large variety of MSC missions, including surveillance, laying cable, and supplying vessels. RADM Shannon also pointed out that MSC recently moved its headquarters to Norfolk, which has led to a "talent drain" and a rush to hire qualified staff.
While acknowledging that the MSC maintenance model is very different from the USS side of the Navy and that MSC operates more similar to a commercial entity, RADM Shannon also stressed the importance of harboring a collaborative environment with the ship repair industry, and the absolute necessity to maintain a strong Jones Act. "To carry the country to war," said the Admiral, "we need a healthy and robust US flagged merchant marine with ships built in the United States and crewed by US mariners. It is not a healthy place to outsource the resources to carry our nation to war."
Shannon graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Nautical Science, and was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program. He attended the Naval War College and received a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies in March 1998.
Shannon served afloat in USS Jack Williams (FFG 24), USS Nicholson (DD 982), and USS Boone (FFG 28). Afloat staff duty included chief staff officer in Destroyer Squadron 14 and surface operations officer in Cruiser Destroyer Group 12. He was commanding officer of USS De Wert (FFG 45) from September 1999 to April 2001. Shannon served as commanding officer of USS Vicksburg (CG 69) and air defense commander for the John F. Kennedy Battle Group from March 2004 to March 2006. He served as commander of Carrier Strike Group 1 from November 2011 to February 2013.
Ashore, Shannon’s assignments included duty as assistant professor of Naval Science at the University of Texas at Austin; section head in Navy’s Joint and Contingency Matters Branch; section head in Navy’s Surface Fires Branch; executive assistant to the Director, Surface Warfare; Pacific Command division chief in the Joint Staff, J-3 Directorate; service on the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff; and U. S. Pacific Fleet deputy chief of staff for Operations, Training and Readiness.
Shannon’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various service medals and unit awards.
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