By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Karsten
JAKARTA, Indonesia – They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but after 29 years of submarine service U.S. 7th Fleet Command Master Chief (CMDCM) Crispian Addington joined the ranks of Enlisted Surface Warfare Qualified Sailors May 26, in his first tour aboard a ship.
Senior enlisted members of the U.S. 7th Fleet staff come from a variety of backgrounds and warfare platforms, and all are setting the example by obtaining their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) qualifications on board the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). With many senior enlisted coming from aviation, information dominance and submarine warfare specialties, many of them never had the opportunity to serve aboard a surface ship and get their ESWS during their careers.
Since 2010, the enlisted warfare qualification program is a mandatory qualification and the Seventh Fleet CPO leadership is proving that it is not just valuable for junior Sailors.
“The ESWS program is important to every Sailor embarked onboard a ship as it sets you apart from the newer Sailors who don’t yet have all the required knowledge to fight the ship to its fullest,” said Addington. “This was a priority for me coming into the job. By demonstrating to all Sailors just how vital this program is to being a complete Sailor and not just a rating specialist. As leaders we set the example and ensure that the legacy of the program is carried forward.”
CMDCM Addington went through the entire qualifying process with a group of other Chief Petty Officers, setting the example that fundamental knowledge of surface warfare is a critical component of professional development and that the rules apply to everyone.
“No one is above the rules. The Navy made this a requirement and it is mine and every other senior leader’s job to follow and enforce those requirements,” said Addington. “Throughout the process it was important for me to be very transparent with the Sailors of the USS Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet Staff and I can’t thank them for passing on their knowledge.”
The current Navy regulation for obtaining an ESWS qualification is within 30 months from checking into an ESWS qualifying command. Each command has the right to set their own instruction and at 7th Fleet, E-5 and above Sailors are required to get their qualification within 18 months of checking on board.
Senior enlisted Sailors, typically in a divisional or departmental Leading Chief Petty Officer (LCPO) position, often do not have large amounts of free time during their busy schedules of leading junior Sailors. Finding the time and putting forth a serious effort often must be carefully balanced with the command mission and the job of taking care of their Sailors.
“This is a great example for all those Petty Officers who have a goal of becoming a CPO one day. You have to expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone to truly understand how the Navy works and be able to relate to Sailors working in other warfare areas,” said Capt. Paul Stader, Chief of Staff, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.
The U.S. 7th Fleet staff Sailors participate in the program headed by the command and control platform ship Blue Ridge. To be an ESWS warrior, each Sailor will have two rigorous personal qualification standard books that need signatures from every aspect of that platform. From fire fighting to combat systems and from general Navy to ship specific, the Sailor is expected to know the basics for everything which is determined by a written and oral test before qualifying. Before 2010, the ESWS program was just another qualification that set you apart from your peers. Now Sailors can face Extra Military Instruction (EMI) or punitive consequences as well as an adverse Performance Evaluation which hinders advancement and retention opportunities.
“This was one of the most challenging qualifications of my career. It took me 8 months to complete while maintaining a hectic travel schedule,” said Addington. “Without the mentorship and caring of the USS Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet Sailors it would have been next to impossible. I am in their debt.”
The ESWS program is considered a necessity for 7th Fleet Sailors to have a basic understanding of environment in which they work. The 7th Fleet commands task forces of all platforms, from submarines to amphibious ships to the forward deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its surface ships and air wing.