USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- With 2008 well underway, USS Ronald Reagan's (CVN 76) First Class Association (FCA) is answering the challenge of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SW/FMF) Joe R. Campa Jr.
Campa recently issued his "Expectations of the First Class Petty Officer" outlined in his "To the Deckplate" newsletter containing his strategy of taking greater advantage of the leadership talents of senior petty officers.
Even though they are thousands of miles away from the MCPON's office in Washington, Ronald Reagan Sailors are taking his words to heart.
"He's right on point. This is exactly what we need," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/SWC) Fernando Cerezo, Ronald Reagan's FCA President. "We're anxious to start some intense training within our first class mess to help all of us perfect our craft. We need to know the chiefs are behind us."
Campa's six pillars of first line leadership, rating expertise, professionalism, communication, loyalty and heritage include the "deckplate triad." By adding first class petty officers to the leadership team, which includes division officers and chief petty officers, Campa believes it will enhance Sailor development and the leadership skills of future chief petty officers.
"As our Navy moves forward, we must be able to leverage the leadership and talent that lies within our first class community. The increased demands on our maritime forces and non-traditional missions make it imperative that we strengthen the leadership that we provide our Sailors on the deckplate," Campa told the Surface Navy Association (SNA) National Symposium in Washington Jan. 15.
One of Campa's expectations is heritage, defined in the MCPON's guidance as "taking opportunities to weave it into daily events, so our Sailors understand that a commitment to excellence is a time-honored tradition that connects our past while forging the foundation of our future."
"I really like that aspect," said Cerezo. "We need to get back to many of the high standards that all of us sometimes let slide."
According to Campa, "Deckplate leadership is not a concept exclusive to the chief's mess. By the time a first class petty officer is selected for chief, they will have demonstrated their abilities to develop Sailors and support our Navy's mission."
Cerezo said he believes the MCPON's initiatives will "add a little carbonation" to many first class petty officers aboard Ronald Reagan. He also said he hoped Campa would visit Ronald Reagan in the near future.
"The deckplate is where we learn to perform at the next level so all we need is to be tweaked when we move up," he said. "We're in the middle now. This is where it counts."
Ensign Jennifer Calinao, Ronald Reagan's educational service officer, said she is glad to see this approach as well.
"As a former first class petty officer, I think it's a great idea to let them step up to the plate," Calinao said. "It puts them out front and really prepares them for the next step."
Calinao said 194 out of more than 440 first class petty officers aboard Ronald Reagan recently took the chief's exam.
"Everyone seemed very confident," she said. "It should always be that way."
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