USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) added a black stripe underneath the white "E" on its superstructure Feb. 24 to signify the ship's second consecutive win of the East Coast Battle Efficiency (Battle "E") Award.
Truman was also awarded the Battle "E" in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.
The Battle "E" was established July 1, 1974 by former Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf to recognize sustained superior excellence in an operational environment.
Prior to 1976, crew members whose ships and squadrons were Battle "E" recipients wore a large "E" patch sewn on the right sleeve of their uniform. The patch was later replaced with a uniform ribbon.
While crew members wear the "E" ribbon above the left breast pocket, Truman also displays the "E" from a prominent location: the ship's superstructure.
Truman's Navigation Department is responsible for the placement and upkeep of the 15-by-12-foot Battle "E" on the ship's superstructure. The location is significant because the superstructure is the highest point of the ship, standing approximately 90 feet above the waterline and widely visible on the waterfront and at sea.
According to Chief Quartermaster (SW) Errol Mehau, crew members take great pride in putting the ship's awards on display.
"Putting that "E" and stripe up there means that we worked hard," said Evans. "It shows Sailors that we are the ship to come to and that there is no better ship on the waterfront."
In the past, crew members would hang over the side of the superstructure and hand-paint the letter from atop a "boatswain's chair," a plank of wood held up by ropes on either side.
"All of the chiefs on board remember when we used to have to hang over the side and paint those babies on," said Mehau. "It was intense, but it was really fulfilling. For the young Sailors out there in the boatswain's chair, it was like a right of passage."
As pre-made letters and symbols became available, the procedure changed and Sailors now order their materials from a company. Although they no longer hand paint the "E", Mehau believes Sailors continue to take great pride in displaying the award from the superstructure.
U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, from Missouri recognized the significance of the award with a letter of congratulations to Truman Commanding Officer Capt. Joe Clarkson.
"It makes me especially proud that you and your crew are taking such good care of the ship named in honor of Missouri's favorite son, President Harry S Truman," wrote Skelton.
Truman is authorized to wear the "E" along with its black stripe until next year's Battle Efficiency Award is announced. If Truman wins for a third year in a row, it will don yet another black stripe to go underneath the "E".
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.