Remarks by Vice President Harris Aboard USS Tulsa in Singapore, Singapore
Changi Naval Base
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, all. It’s good to see you guys. It’s really good to see you.
I gave a speech today, earlier. I was — spent a large part of the morning with the Prime Minister of Singapore, and I was very proud to talk about you all.
And I was sharing with Commander Cornes that there is so much about our relationship with the countries in this region, which I’ll talk about in a moment — but there’s so much about that relationship, both the tradition that is the foundation of that relationship and also our vision for the future of that relationship, being as we are — the United States — a member of the Indo-Pacific region — here in Southeast Asia, here in Singapore.
And almost everything about the foundation of that relationship — certainly anything that has to do with one of the two most important pillars of that relationship — security — is about you guys. It’s about you. It’s about what you all do here, what you do every day — the sacrifices that you have made, that your family makes for you to serve — that allow us then — me, as your Vice President; the President; we, as a country — to engage in these relationships to the benefit not only of the United States but, frankly, of the world.
So, I’m here, first of all, to say thank you. Thank you, all of you, and — and, Commander, for your incredible welcome.
So, it is great to be on the USS Tulsa. And it’s great to be with you in person so I can again say thank you for your service and for your courage and for your commitment and for representing the best ideals of our great country.
Because, you know, we talk a lot — those of us who have chosen a life of public service and you, in particular — about what our country stands for, but it is your courage, that is not without sacrifice, that allows those ideals to be real and to ring true. So, I know that your life is a life about service and sacrifice, and it is in your DNA.
And you all have sailed for months, away from your families, without much rest and, due to the pandemic, without much liberty, I think.
And I know too that, like all of us, you are thinking right now, as we all have been every day — recently, in particular — about the men and women who have served in Afghanistan, including some who are here today — and I’ve read about your service — and those who are serving there right now.
And I just want to say that we are all grateful to those men and women in uniform and the embassy staff on the ground who are bringing safety to Americans and to the Afghans who worked side by side with us, and to other Afghans at risk. And they’re doing this mission in an incredibly challenging and dangerous environment.
And the President and I are thankful for their service. And, as I know you all know, we send them our thoughts and our prayers. And from afar and close up, we thank you every day for the work that you do.
At the same time — at the same time, other missions continue all around the world. So you all are here in Singapore, in Southeast Asia, in the Indo-Pacific with a mission of your own — a mission that is vital to the American people.
Over these months, you have had quite the journey. You left from my home state of California in May and then quarantined in Guam for two weeks.
Since then, you have sailed to Okinawa and through the South China Sea. You have teamed up with the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Indonesian Navy. And now, here you are in Singapore.
And the reason we are here is important: The Indo-Pacific is critical to the security and the prosperity of the United States.
I do believe a big part of the history of the 21st century will be written about this very region where you now serve, and we want to the be ones who are helping to shape and dictate that history. You, in your service, are going to be the ones who help shape that history.
Our presence in the Indo-Pacific has a long, long history, including now, of helping to guarantee peace and security; freedom of trade and commerce; freedom of navigation — I’m going to say that again: freedom of navigation — and open waterways; and the rules-based international order that has brought so much safety and prosperity to so many.
American workers — let’s think about folks at home, people we know, members of our family — American working families and people re- — rely on the waters that you all sail to provide for their families.
American businesses rely on the ports that you dock in to get their markets — to get their goods to market, to buy the things they need.
You know, we’ve recently been talking about whether folks are going to be able to get their — their school supplies. We’ve been talking about supply chain issues. We’ve been talking about whether goods are going to cross the seas in time for kids to get their Christmas toys in time.
The American economy grows ever stronger as the work that you do in these seas grows stronger.
President Biden and I know that our country has deep and enduring strategic interests here in this region, which is why our security presence matters and it is why our partnerships here matter and it is why your mission matters.
It is in our vital interest to stand united with our allies and our partners in Southeast Asia in defense of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Free and open.
Again, this is the work you are doing every day. Policy people talk about it — foreign policy people talk about it. We talk about it in diplomatic meetings. Free and open. This is the work you all are doing.
So, to conclude, I want you to know that each and every one of you, no matter your rank or title, is advancing American interests and protecting the American people.
Our nation is stronger and it is safer because of you, because of your sacrifice, and because of your service, and because of the duty that you honor and what you stand for and what you represent every day.
So, I’m here to personally, again, thank you for all you do. Know that we see you, that we care about you, and that we’re proud of you.
And may God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you, all. (Applause.)