Capt. Bob Wiley of Carson City, who takes command of the USNS Carson City vessel when it’s built and launched, looks upon his next assignment as a step up.
In a telephone interview prior to a Wednesday reception held for him by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, he said he feels that way despite earlier command roles over larger vessels. For one thing, he’s a Carson City resident of 23 years. For another, he said, “I’ve had my times with those ships” that are large and have crews of 1,000 or more. He sees no comedown in moving to a smaller ship with a crew of 24. He lobbied for the role.
“I consider it a promotion, actually,” he said. “For me, this is a great opportunity.”
At the reception, he put it this way: “I made so many deals; I pulled so many strings. I’m still kind of amazed that it’s going to happen.” He also described the ship, a Joint High Speed Vessel designated JHSV 7. saying there may be 10 or a dozen of them eventually. He also indicated “high speed” actually may be an understatement.
“She’s a box that goes 40 knots,” he said, adding it has four diesels and jet drive. If guns are mounted on her, he said, “drug runners don’t stand a chance.” But the ship would be used in all likelihood for troop transport, he explained, or transporting health care personnel from the large ships he used to command as hospital vessels to other locations in various areas.
Eligible for retirement after serving 35 years, Wiley intends to stay for some time in his command position with the USNS Carson City. He said the ship is expected to be christened in the second half of November, go under his command next spring and into service in about a year or so.
Though not Carson City natives, the captain and his spouse came here almost a quarter century ago, as he put it, because they wanted to move inland. His wife is Pamela, a nurse with Carson Tahoe Hospital’s behavioral health unit on Mountain Street. Wiley originally is from the Bay Area, his wife from Pennsylvania. Wiley learned his craft at the California Maritime Academy in the Bay Area’s Vallejo.
He said the pair looked at Incline Village and around South Lake Tahoe, but settled in Carson City after getting a feel for its people and its other hidden gem qualities. He said it’s Nevada’s state capital, yet “its also kind of a small town — people look out for each other.”
Wiley, technically a Merchant Marine, is a federal employee and not a military serviceman. He commands vessels that lend support to combat ships. They handle such things as troop or material transport for Naval vessels that may go into combat. However, as he put it, such cargo ships would be activated in wartime and could find themselves in dangerous waters under such circumstances.
Among previous assignments he had on larger ships were a couple as commander of the Comfort and the Mercy, hospital vessels with health care missions. He returned recently from commanding the Comfort on an “urgent” deployment basis.
At the chamber reception, Mayor Robert Crowell said of the ship’s name and a resident’s designation as captain: “It just doesn’t get any better than that.”
“It’s awesome,” said Fire Chief Bob Schreihans, who met Wiley for the first time.
“It’s a very big deal,” said Terri McNutt, immediate past president of the chamber.