Norfolk (NNS) -- The Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), Adm. Mark Ferguson spoke with waterfront commanding officers and command master chiefs on Naval Station Norfolk, March 13.
The VCNO asked the assembled command leadership teams to share their views on fleet readiness, manning, and Navy's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program. Questions and discussion ranged from surface training programs to manning in key ratings, to suggestions for improving the SAPR training. USS Barry (DDG 52) Command Master Chief Charles Jones said he enjoyed the lengthy and frank discussion.
"I didn't expect him to address the group the way he did. He really let the questions drive the discussion, which made for a very informative and enjoyable session," said Jones.
Capt. Rick Cheeseman, commanding officer USS Monterey (CG 61) appreciated senior leader focus on readiness issues.
"I was very happy to hear the VCNO confirm that readiness accounts are getting the attention they deserve. A decade of war and contingency ops has eroded a lot of our readiness," said Cheeseman.
Adm. Ferguson wanted to hear directly from shipboard COs and CMCs the impact funding constraints are having on the waterfront. "This is about giving deckplate leaders an opportunity to communicate directly with senior leadership. Hearing, first-hand, the impact of fiscal constraints on the safety, readiness, and morale of our Sailors is critical," Adm. Ferguson said. "This direct feedback allows Navy leadership in Washington to make better and informed decisions about current programs and the future of our Navy."
For USS Cole's (DDG 67) Command Master Chief, Michael Fisher, having the opportunity to speak directly to the Navy's top leadership in an open forum is vital to the health of the Navy.
"It's very important for senior leadership to have face-to-face time with Sailors on the waterfront," said Fisher. "(Navy senior leaders) are deciding policy and determining what programs get funding, and it's up to the Sailors on the waterfront to implement those policies and programs. I think these types of engagements are the difference between success and failure."