NORFOLK (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (COMSURFLANT), recently discussed his five major points of emphasis with current and future waterfront leaders during two separate events held at Naval Station Norfolk.
His remarks at his first SURFLANT Waterfront leadership Commander's Call Oct. 3 and at the Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC) graduation Oct. 11, will be a recurring drumbeat that will be heard throughout the East Coast surface forces in months to come.
"Surface warfare officers have an ethos of producing results, often in spite of insurmountable obstacles. It is a trait that makes our community great," he said. "During this unprecedented time of uncertainty, I need your help in checking that trait in favor of a deliberate and questioning attitude that ensures safe operations and training."
Gumataotao's fervent focus is to produce and deliver combat ready ships to safeguard national security and protect the lives and property of our nation's citizens while preserving the Fleet Readiness Training Plan progression.
"Am I enthusiastic about things? Yes! I focus my enthusiasm on the deckplates. I focus my enthusiasm on Sailors. I focus my enthusiasm on the leadership that leads Sailors; that's where my enthusiasm lies," said Gumataotao.
Displaying this enthusiasm during the graduation ceremony, Gumataotao expressed his pride for the graduates and challenged them to maximize their potential for themselves, for their command, and for the Navy.
"Find the discipline to be very good at your profession," he urged. "You're not just an ensign. You're a surface warfare professional."
Elaborating on the teamwork required to achieve success, he discussed the importance of trust, reminding the BDOC graduates that a team cannot succeed without trust, and that there is no trust without competency. His five priorities are based on this principle.
Gumataotao's first four priorities are to improve the tactical and technical competence of Sailors by utilizing as many resources as possible, to produce combat ready ships by taking care of people and systems, to manage wholeness, and to synchronize lines of effort between all surface warfare stakeholders.
"Being a good division officer is not just about ship handling. It's not just about engineering. It is also about your character," he explained. "I need your help, because at the end of the day, after all your training and all your certifications are done, we're going to send you out there to do our country's work. You're going to execute that. Are you going to be ready?"
The admiral's fifth point of emphasis is to promote Navy family wellness. He asked that everyone remember the civilian workforce who, as part of the Navy family, "took hits for the team" during the recent summer furlough and government shutdown. He asked for a 360 degree perspective from the fleet on how best to support them and seamlessly reintegrate them as they return.
Addressing sexual assault in the force, Gumataotao echoed the message being heard throughout the Navy, that assault against one, affects all and will not be tolerated. He tasked the wardroom and chief's messes to tune in on the message and not let it become background static.
"The impact of one case affects the victim, the advocate, the crew, the ship," he said.
The admiral also discussed the fiscally challenging environment SURLFANT faces this year as the Navy forges ahead. His advice to wardrooms and chief's messes is to remind Sailors of the value they bring to this country and of their responsibility to maintain the greatest Navy in the world.
He encouraged leaders to be patient, to communicate with each other, stressing that SURFLANT is here to support the waterfront.
"We're going to be fine; there is a plan. But this is not business as usual - not anymore. Continue to make us proud in all you do by maintaining high standards," said Gumataotao. "Live our Navy core values. Don't just talk about it; always strive to be better. Guard against complacency and mediocrity. Finally, treat each other with mutual respect. Work as a team and take care of each other."
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.