ABOARD USS McCAMPBELL (NNS) -- "Make goals for yourself and push yourself professionally." That was the advice Capt. Terry Bragg, commander, Destroyer Squadron 1, gave to USS McCampbell (DDG 85) Sailors the day before she left for her first counter-drug operations deployment. The crew of McCampbell has been following that advice tenaciously by pursuing enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) and surface warfare officer (SWO) pins ever since.
Since McCampbell left on its deployment a month ago, 48 Sailors have qualified ESWS. The wardroom has also been working hard, with nine officers getting their SWO pins. These tremendous results reflect the focus the command has put on achieving these qualifications, making them a top priority for this deployment.
The ESWS designation is a prestigious qualification for a Sailor. It represents a thorough knowledge of surface warfare operations, including knowledge of engineering, combat systems, weapons, deck evolutions, supply management, navigation and administration. There are two phases of ESWS qualifications - ship specific and common core. For a common core qualification, a Sailor must be knowledgeable about Navywide surface warfare, information that applies to all surface ships.
Completion of ship specific line items demands that Sailors know much more about their particular ship and its configuration and capabilities.
Command Master Chief (CMDCM) (SW) Michael Fulton is in charge of the ESWS qualification program aboard McCampbell. Fulton believes the ESWS qualification program is important because, "It makes better all around Sailors who understand not just their specific jobs, but how other divisions and departments work and fight the ship as a whole." He continues, "The program on McCampbell is moving along briskly. We are holding three qualification boards a week, and being underway allows Sailors to sign off many of the observation lines items."
Cmdr. Mark Montgomery, commanding officer of McCampbell, is proud to have awarded the 48 new ESWS qualified Sailors with their pins since leaving San Diego April 19, with hopes of more to be pinned before returning home. The command sets Sailors up for success in qualifying by providing ESWS training in the mess decks every afternoon and evening. The training is usually held by chief petty officers and first class petty officers on various topics. The ship also encourages Sailors to walk throughout the ship and observe evolutions and events in other departments so they may have a more thorough understanding of different divisions' equipment and roles aboard the ship.
The importance of having an ESWS pin has increased in recent years. Whereas it was once regarded as a qualification above and beyond the ordinary, it is now considered a prerequisite for advancement. Most Sailors start to work on an ESWS pin as a third or second class petty officer. As retention and recruitment remain at such high levels throughout the Navy, gaining an ESWS pin can significantly help a Sailor's chance at gaining promotions.
Quartermaster 1st Class Melanie Baldovin has been working on her ESWS qualification on and off since her arrival to McCampbell and will have her oral board soon. Baldovin says working on the ESWS pin, "Keeps you busy and makes the time go faster." She continues, "Studying for my ESWS pin has made me more knowledgeable of my own workspace. For example, I understand better now how the SPY 1-D [radar], Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), and SPS 67 [radar] work, and how the work of other divisions relates to my job as a quartermaster."
Personelman Seaman (SW) Alberto Martinez recently earned his ESWS pin aboard McCampbell after working on it for seven months. "It makes me feel good to have my pin; makes me feel more comfortable on the ship," Martinez reflects. "Once I received it, I had a great sense of relief and completion. It was one of my personal goals and extremely rewarding to accomplish."
Martinez feels as if having his ESWS pin will help him in the future with advancements and, "shows that I am motivated by earning my pin as an E-3." His advice to those working on their pin is, "Don't give up on it. It is hard and stressful, but once the CO [commanding officer] pins you, it is a great feeling."
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