SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 6, 2011) Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, and former Secretary of State George P. Schultz and his wife listen to discussion during a Senior Leadership Seminar (SLS) held aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phillip Pavlovich)

SAN FRANCISCO - A two-day Senior Leadership Seminar (SLS) focused on disaster response kicked off Oct. 6 aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

The seminar focuses on federal response capabilities to local and state requirements in the event of a major natural disaster in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"We are excited to be here in San Francisco, and honored to be the host for this seminar," said Capt. Jonathan Harnden, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard. "Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response is an important mission for the U.S. Navy, and the purpose of this seminar is to create a partnership to respond to a disaster in the Bay Area."

This is the second time the SLS has been held in conjunction with San Francisco Fleet Week. It offers an opportunity for senior Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard leaders to interact with local, state and regional leaders, to focus on disaster preparedness and response.

In attendance for SLS is former Secretary of State George Schulz; Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee; Oakland Mayor Jean Quan; San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and various officials from the San Francisco Fire and Police departments, along with medical and relief organizations. In addition to the sea services, the U.S. Army and Air Force are also represented.

"Our primary responsibility is lifesaving," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Cynthia Stowe, from the Port of San Francisco. "Our next responsibility in a crisis situation is to maintain the lifelines that our port provides. That includes commerce and shipping."

Being ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the event of potential natural or man-made disasters is a core capability of the Sea Services Maritime Strategy. Doing so takes advantage of the fact that the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are a rapidly deployable, technologically advanced team that is poised for action in a variety of roles as part of our nation's joint force.

"This seminar is a valuable start to working on these logistics; communications, public utilities and lifelines," said San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee.

The SLS is just one facet of San Francisco Fleet Week which recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of the sea services, past and present. Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are woven into the fabric of the community - as neighbors, volunteers and citizens actively working together to enhance the quality of life in the Bay Area.

Operated by a crew of more than 1,000 Sailors, Bonhomme Richard is a multi-mission platform that is equipped to meet the needs of our country, whether that is supporting national objectives or by providing disaster relief.