Story and Photo by Paul Long, FLEACT, Yokosuka Public Affairs
The 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), Mike Stevens, visited Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka, where he spoke directly to enlisted sailors, April 23.
“My purpose here in Yokosuka is to hear from our Sailors and families,” Stevens said. “When I go back to Washington, D.C., and I provide recommendations and make decisions, that I get it right (based on what I’ve heard), and the way that I do that is by hearing what’s on their minds.”
During his 60 minute presentation and following a question and answer session, Stevens took informal polls on professional and quality of life issues. He asked Sailors to evaluate their perception of morale in the Navy, using poor, good, excellent, and outstanding as their options; about 80 percent of Sailors replied by a show of hands saying that their morale was good.
In response to a female Sailor’s question on the career opportunities for women, especially on submarines, Stevens said, “In fiscal year 2016, we’re going to have enlisted women on submarines. Now what we need are women who say, ‘I want to do that (serve on submarines).’ I need some midgrade petty officers and chief petty officers to be bold, to lean forward, to engage, and be a part of the submarine community. The only field where the Navy doesn’t have women in is the SEALS, and [Navy leadership] looking at that.”
Hull Technician 1st Class Racheal Towne, assigned to FLEACT, Yokosuka’s Port Operations Department, reacted positively to the news.
“I’m very excited about the changes the Navy is making in job equality for women,” said Towne. “He brought up a really good point that he needs women of all ranks, particularly more senior women, to be examples to the junior personnel. It’s heartening to me as a first class petty officer and a leader in the Navy to know, that the opportunity is still available.”
Cryptologic Technician Maintenance 2nd Class Wesley Stewart assigned to Navy Information and Operations Command, Yokosuka, was impressed with Steven’s answers to Sailors questions asked during the MCPON’s brief.
“He gave me a sense of, ‘No matter what happens, no matter what we’re doing….he’s going to have our backs,” Stewart said.
Yokosuka was the last stop on Steven’s two week tour of bases in Hawaii, Guam, and Japan.