ABOARD USS COMSTOCK (NNS) -- In a message released by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Jan. 6, USS Comstock (LSD 45) earned the 2003 Pacific Fleet Retention Excellence Award, and is the only amphibious warship in the Pacific Fleet to earn this mark of distinction and paint her anchors gold.
"I believe two factors led to this award. First, enlisted leadership aboard Comstock created an environment for our Sailors to excel in their profession and enjoy a successful career in the Navy," said Comstock Commanding Officer Cmdr. John Braunschweig. "Second, Comstock's schedule in 2003 gave our Sailors a great sense of mission accomplishment, and both of these factors translate into high retention."
In every area of retention, including reenlistment and attrition, Comstock exceeded the Navy goals for recognition. For Sailors who have been in the Navy less than six years, Comstock's retention rate for 2003 was 62.2 percent, well above the requisite goal of 56 percent. This is perhaps the most noteworthy figure for Comstock, because these Sailors are the primary group the Navy targets.
Not to be overlooked are Comstock's numbers for Sailors who have been in the Navy for more than six years; in this group, Comstock had 100 percent reenlistment.
"Although these are the groups that you usually have the highest numbers with, it really says something if we had 100 percent of our Sailors in these groups reenlist," said Chief Navy Counselor Robert Weekes, Comstock's command career counselor.
Finally, Comstock succeeded in keeping attrition below 18 percent in 2003, thus securing a spot among the winners of the Retention Excellence Award.
Success aboard Comstock can be traced to a number of factors. First, an important part of this success is due to the command's resolute conviction that Comstock Sailors are the best on the waterfront. Next, Sailors' spirits were high after completing a successful training cycle at the end of 2002. At the onset of 2003, the ship deployed with the Marines of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to take part in the global war on terrorism. Direct participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom played a large role in connecting Comstock Sailors more closely to world events, adding a greater sense of purpose for all involved.
Comstock Sailors faced numerous challenges in 2003, including a Board of Inspection and Survey, or INSURV, six weeks after returning from deployment, followed by a 3-M Baseline Assessment, and Command Assessment Readiness and Training (CART) II and IA less than a month after a seven-week maintenance availability. Regardless, Comstock Sailors came through with flying colors. Their accomplishments built confidence in themselves and the Navy, and resulted in high retention.
"It's pretty cool that a ship named Comstock carries gold anchors," said Seaman Juan Abril of Houston.
Comstock is the second ship to be named after the Comstock Lode, an early American pioneer mining site near Virginia City, Nev., which gained much of its fame during the Gold Rush period. The Comstock Lode, founded in 1859, produced more than $500 million in gold and silver. Today, Comstock carries on this tradition of producing great wealth for the country, only now it is through the development of top-notch Sailors who will be serving the United States in the 21st century.
For related news, visit the USS Comstock (LSD 45) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lsd45.