Claud A. Jones Award
CDR Kurt J. Harris, USN
For his significant contribution to naval engineering as set forth in the following:
Commander Kurt Harris was singularly responsible for the exceptionally high level of material readiness and operational availability maintained by ships deployed to the U.S. FIFTH Fleet from November 1992 through October 1995. As Officer-in-Charge of the SIXTH Fleet Ship Repair Unit Detachment, Bahrain, he managed over 400 scheduled and emergent maintenance availabilities and was directly responsible for correction of more than 3,300 material casualties on nearly 200 ships, including eleven carrier battle groups and seven amphibious ready groups. Without exception, each ship benefitted directly from his hallmark personal attention, untiring dedication and commitment to excellence.
Ships deployed to the FIFTH Fleet face the U.S Navy's most materially challenging theater of operations. The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Area of Responsibility spans a vast region from the waters off of Iraq and Iran to the shores of Kenya and Somalia, and from the headwaters of the Red Sea to the approaches of Karachi, Pakistan. Ships deployed to this region confront a demanding venue of extended, high-visibility, real-world operations more than eight thousand miles from home port with infrequent tender visits as the only organic source of maintenance and repair support. In this extreme environment, Commander Harris' technical competence, ingenuity, and unrelenting customer focus were the key reason FIFTH Fleet deployed ships consistently achieved nearly eighty percent operating tempo and still completed their deployments in better material condition than when they arrived.
In achieving this remarkable record of support, Commander Harris expertly and energetically scheduled and coordinated support from a broad array of commercial ship repair facilities, Navy and commercial shipyard and SIMA fly-away teams, Navy and commercial technical representatives, and Navy and commercial logistic support providers. He eagerly tackled unusual repairs as well as the routine. His accomplishments included waterborne propeller replacements, aircraft carrier main engine bearing replacement, gas turbine generator rotor replacement and repair of hull and structure collision damage on three ships, including a nuclear aircraft carrier.
Striving constantly for more effective and efficient approaches to deployed ship maintenance, Commander Harris’ exceptional leadership and innovative spirit achieved marked success, such as his pioneering implementation of deployed submarine maintenance availabilities without submarine tender support.
The greatest measure of Commander Harris’ immense achievement lies in the unmitigated praise from all who witnessed and benefitted from his efforts. The FIFTH Fleet Commander remarked that he received “... more unsolicited (praise) for Kurt Harris than all others combined.” Commanding officers of ships he served were unanimous in delivering plaudits such as one who said “... unreservedly that no single individual contributed more to the maintenance of (the ship’s) mission readiness ... CDR Harris ... did right by my ship as no other outsider in my 13 months in command.”
Clearly, Commander Harris epitomizes the highest ideals of fleet engineering and is most deserving of the Claude A. Jones Award.