Apparently The Captain Of The Navy’s 6th Fleet Flagship Pulls Security Duty

An image shot onboard one of just two of the U.S. Navy’s hulking Blue Ridge class amphibious command ships, USS Mount Whitney, shows the ship’s skipper, Captain David “Crusty” Pollard, M4 rifle in hand while standing security watch. It was a bit jarring seeing this photo as this is usually a job left to sailors under his command. Barring a canned photo op, which would be incredibly cheesy, it seems like Captain Pollard is a seriously hands-on leader, and we applaud him for that.

The photo was taken while Mount Whitney was in dry dock in San Giorgio Del Porto in Genoa, Italy. The ship is homeported there as the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet. You can read all about these old, but increasingly capable 620 foot-long ships in these past

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Having the C.O. of such a high-profile and large ship standing security watch while in port seems quite outside the norm. Defense NewsDavid Larter, who is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and writes daily about all aspects of naval matters, told The War Zone the following:

“In my experience, it’s rare for COs to stand security watch. In rare cases, such as holidays, a CO might choose to do so to give one of his sailors a break as a morale booster. But that’s rare and COs generally have more important things to do than in-port security.”

Captain Pollard standing watch aboard USS Mount Whitney., U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
Another view of the Mount Whitney in dry dock at San Giorgio Del Porto in Genoa, Italy, with another member of the crew pulling security on the bow., USN

Pollard just took command of USS Mount Whitney on June 15, 2020, while it was sailing the Baltic Sea. The ship was taking part in the huge annual U.S. Navy-led Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) naval wargames that involve many regional players. His prior assignment was Executive Officer of the supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan that is forward based in Japan. 

“It is an honor to join the Mount Whitney team… I am proud to serve alongside such tough, resilient patriots. I want to thank Capt. Norman for his selfless service and dedication to this ship and its amazing crew as the commanding officer. You certainly have set an example for me to emulate.”

USS Mount Whitney., USN

Here is a bit more from the Navy about the Captain’s impressive background up to his time aboard the Ronald Reagan:

Captain Dave “Crusty” Pollard is a native of Texas, and a 1996 graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a BS in Systems Engineering.  He also attended Regent University, and in May 2012, was named the Regent University School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship 2012 Outstanding Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership Graduate.

A Navy pilot, Captain Pollard deployed with both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, flying the F/A-18C Hornet with Strike Fighter Squadron THREE FOUR (VFA-34), the “Blue Blasters;” Strike Fighter Squadron ONE THREE SIX (VFA-136), the “Knighthawks;” and Strike Fighter Squadron ONE NINE TWO (VFA-192), the “World Famous Golden Dragons.” Flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet, he served as the Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of Strike Fighter Squadron ONE NINE FIVE (VFA-195), the “Dambusters.”

Ashore, Captain Pollard served as a Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor at Strike Fighter Weapons School, Atlantic, a project lead for both the U.S. Joint Forces Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Naval Financial Analyst/Programmer for Tactical Aviation for the President’s budget in the Chief of Naval Operations office.

Captain Pollard completed the Aviation Nuclear Power Training Program to become the Executive Officer of USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), the only forward deployed aircraft carrier, stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.

It would seem that the new captain is working extra hard to earn the trust and loyalty of his crew by doing some of the grunt work that isn’t traditionally assigned to an officer of his stature. 

It’s the old ‘lead from the front’ strategy that is pretty damn bulletproof. 

Well done Captain, well done.

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Tyler Rogoway


Tyler's passion is the study of military technology, strategy, and foreign policy and he has fostered a dominant voice on those topics in the defense media space. He was the creator of the hugely popular defense site Foxtrot Alpha before developing The War Zone.