NEWPORT, R.I. - Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus addressed the world's maritime leaders at the 20th International Seapower Symposium
(ISS) at the U.S. Naval War College Oct. 20.
The secretary stressed the importance of maritime cooperation and global presence as nations work to manage a plethora of shared challenges, such as combating piracy, regional security, ensuring the free flow of commerce, peacekeeping and providing humanitarian assistance. Additionally, he said, these issues must be met during an era of fiscal limitations.
"One of the challenges to every one of our countries has been economic, fiscal," Mabus said. "My government, virtually all governments, is wrestling with matching resources with requirements.
"But despite those challenges one thing should be very clear: the United States Navy is and will continue to be a global presence, wherever and whenever we are called upon," Mabus said.
Mabus noted that since the first ISS more than 40 years ago, the world has become increasingly inter-connected. And despite amazing advances in technology, he said, more than 90 percent of trade goes by sea, and 95 percent of telecommunications resources remain under the oceans.
To ensure common approaches to shared issues, the world's navies continue to work and train together in a variety of global military exercises, Mabus said.
"These ongoing exercises around the world serve to strengthen our common partnerships," he said, adding that nations need to seek new ways to work together.
"Energy and security are increasingly affecting how the world looks at its relationships," he said, stressing that finding alternative fuel resources is one key way that nations can continue to collaborate.
In working together, the world's navies share a common seagoing heritage that should serve to continue to build upon maritime cooperation and collective global presence.
"There's a common bond that exists between Sailors," he said. "Because, in many ways, we are one culture. We share a tradition two millennia in the making."
More than 110 nations, with many of the senior-most officers from their navy or coast guard, are attending this biennial event. With 75 heads of navy and 22 heads of coast guard expected, this marks the largest meeting of naval leaders in the conference's history.
The theme of this year's symposium is "Security and Prosperity through Maritime Partnerships." As part of the event, three panel discussions will focus on how maritime security prevents disruptions that adversely impact national, regional, and global prosperity: "Global Perspective: Challenges to Maritime Security," "Beyond MDA (maritime domain awareness): Building Responsive Partnerships," and "Maritime Security: Evolving Demands, Adaptive Partnerships."
Many of the delegates toured the Navy's littoral combat ship, USS Independence (LCS 2), which was visiting Naval Station Newport in conjunction with ISS.
"That kind of ship is a major part of the future of our navy and of all navies," Mabus said, pointing out that the Independence is fast, agile, operates with a smaller crew and can perform operations in both shallow and deep waters.
First held in 1969, ISS has become the largest gathering of maritime leaders in history. ISS provides a forum for the world's maritime leaders to discuss common maritime challenges and to promote international maritime security cooperation. The discussions offer opportunities for future regional and international collaboration in seeking solutions to global maritime challenges.
The Naval War College established programs in 1956 and 1972 for international officers. A number of delegates attending the ISS are graduates of those programs.
The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert welcomed the delegates on Wednesday
, along with a video-taped message from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The symposium concludes on Oct. 21.