NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- A group of second class petty officers assigned to USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) graduated from the ship's new First Class Petty Officers in Training (FIT) program Nov. 26, during a ceremony held on board the aircraft carrier.
The graduates, having gone through FIT's arduous training regimen aimed at producing more effective and efficient deckplate leaders, became the first official class of Carl Vinson second class petty officers to graduate from the ship's pilot training and mentorship program.
"The FIT program really taught us how to carry ourselves in a positive way and lead from the deckplates," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 2nd Class (SW) Sheena Waddell.
"The program facilitators taught us how to come together as a group to achieve greater goals; how to network properly; how to handle challenging situations with our Sailors; and how to become successful and respectable leaders while striving for excellence."
Carl Vinson's FIT program began in early October and provides an opportunity for first class petty officers to give mentorship and guidance to junior Sailors. The program incorporates weekly physical training (PT) sessions, a customized personnel qualification standard (PQS) and Navy core values.
According to Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class (AW/SW) Sonya Hogan, a key facilitator for the program, FIT was created to help Vinson's second class petty officers understand the pivotal role that a first class petty officer plays in a Navy organization.
"We basically took from the PO-to-MCPON [petty officer to master chief petty officer of the Navy] program and combined it with ideas from our Chiefs-in-Training program," said Hogan. "FIT is the first organized command-level mentorship training for second class petty officers. It is a way of growing Sailors into their future roles as a senior petty officer and beyond."
Hogan added that facilitators also helped participants earn their warfare qualifications and study for advancement exams. Weekly case studies – hypothetical situations requiring leadership intervention – also played a part in the program's success.
"The leadership gave us real-life scenarios that we had to put ourselves in and solve," said Waddell. "All of the first classes leading us really got our minds going. I think we're all better equipped to lead our junior Sailors because of their mentorship."
Carl Vinson Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Glenn Mallo presented the graduates with certificates at the ceremony, while congratulating them on their accomplishments. Hogan said the planning phases for a second FIT class are already in the works.
"Because this was our first round of FIT, we learned a lot from it, and I think everyone really benefited from the program," said Hogan. "For us, it's about quality, not quantity. If we have better prepared even one Sailor for advancement and deckplate leadership, we have accomplished something with our FIT program."
USS Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.