Precommissioning Unit Ronald Reagan Welcomes New Executive Officer

Story Number: NNS020426-10Release Date: 4/26/2002 3:20:00 PM
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By Journalist 1st Class Scott Boyle

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The Executive Officer (XO) is often known as the enforcer on the ship; however, he is not the same type of enforcer you would see in a hockey game. Simply speaking, the XO is the person that enforces the policies of the commanding officer. Cmdr. Herman Shelanski is the new XO for Precommissioning Unit (PCU) Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). He says it is a job that requires him to use all the experience he's gained over his 22 years of service.

"I've seen examples of really good leadership and I've seen examples of really poor leadership," said the Wynnewood, Pa. native. "I've seen how the crew responds to that from the top down, throughout the whole workings of the ship."

He said the good squadrons, or the good ships, have been successful because they have a culture of success. Building that success from the ground up is the challenge for the Ronald Reagan crew.

"[When you are on those ships] you say, 'If I ever get a chance, that's how I'm going to do it.' I don't think my experience is different from most of the seasoned crew, and they want the same thing."

As with all aircraft carriers, delivering aircraft and bombs on an enemy target will be the ultimate responsibility of USS Ronald Reagan. To be an efficient crew, it is imperative for the air wing and ship's company to work as a cohesive team.

"We all know that ultimately the power of this vessel is with all the aircraft aboard. Our job as the ship's crew is to make sure the carrier is ready...and we'll give them the best quarters, the best food, the best service and we're going to take care of the airplanes the best it could possibly be done."
Developing the crew into a fine tuned machine requires the XO to reinforce the positive programs already in place.

"I think the good basics are already in place like stressing advancement, education, really good leadership up and down the chain, and empowering the chiefs," he said. "Letting the chiefs get out and do what they do best, like working the shops, while keeping the communication open between the chiefs and division officers is really important."

Shelanksi's ultimate goal is to have the USS Ronald Reagan crew be the best trained in the fleet. While there is more to be done, he says the current policies have the crew going the right direction.

"It's about really understanding your job, because today's Navy is so complicated with modern technology. No one person can do it alone. It takes everyone working together as a team to get everything to really work well."

He says there is always room for improvement. One thing he'd like to change is the dependency on e-mails.

"Sometimes, all the e-mails lead to being constantly stuck behind your desk. I don't think that is good leadership for the chiefs and division officers. Good leadership is getting out, talking to your people and seeing that the job gets done right."

He said the personal contact is what he likes most about the Navy. "I enjoy meeting and working with people. If I wanted to work on a computer all day, I could be a civilian sitting at home, or working at a company somewhere."

Being a Sailor is a point of pride for Shelanski and he wants that Navy pride to rub off on the crew. Our namesake, he says, is also very important.

"Looking at [President Reagan's] career, the type of person he is, and what he did for this country, we should put our shoulders back more and hold our heads higher," he said. "We're representing him, and that is a job worth doing."

For more news about USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), see the Reagan NewsStand page at

Ronald Reagan CVN 76 under construction
000809-N-0000G-0017 Newport News, Virginia (Aug. 9, 2000) -- The forward bridge section of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) under construction at the Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding facility. (RELEASED)
April 24, 2002
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