ABOARD USS SACRAMENTO, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Safety Center recently announced USS Sacramento (AOE 1) as the 2002 Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Safety Award winner, in the auxiliary-class ship category.
Though this is Sacramento's 1st SECNAV safety award, safety aboard the "Golden Bear" is nothing new. Prior to earning the SECNAV award, the ship received their 5th consecutive Chief of Naval Operations Type Commander safety award.
"For the crew to be rewarded with the recognition of the best in the Navy," said Sacramento Commanding Officer, Capt. Mike Manazir, "that's huge."
The awards are presented annually to Navy and Marine Corps activities and fleet operational support units based on outstanding contributions to fleet readiness, increased morale and efficient, economical use of resources through safety. These factors directly contribute to the overall quality of their safety programs.
"Although competition was tight, the embodiment of safety in the daily lives of these crews set these ships ahead of the rest," said Vice Adm. Timothy Lafleur, Commander Naval Surface Forces.
"Safety is everyone's responsibility," said Lt.j.g. Sophie Colston, Sacramento safety officer. "We stress how important every person's role is in maintaining a safe working environment - no matter what they are doing."
With the Golden Bear constantly conducting underway replenishments, helicopter operations and ordnance handling, dangerous situations arise daily. The Sacramento's "safety program takes measures to promote awareness in all matters concerning occupational safety and health," said Colston.
The ship has implemented operational risk management (ORM) up and down the chain of command, ensuring the entire crew thinks about safety every day, before every task.
"(Safety) policy and expectations are communicated from the top and diffused throughout all the divisions," said Colston. "Feedback works in every direction and is a great way to monitor the effectiveness of training and communication."
ORM is a decision-making tool used to increase operational effectiveness by anticipating hazards and reducing the potential for loss, directly contributing to the ship's "ready for service" motto.
"Safety's not the word; it's the end product of an ORM-based system that works," said Manazir. "(Operational risk management) concepts have reduced the number of safety related mishaps throughout the Navy. I think it's important that continues."
The Golden Bears constantly strive toward a safe working environment by conducting a safety stand down every quarter. Safety is emphasized then reemphasized. The crew does nothing but concentrate on safety topics.
We're not totally risk-free," said Manazir. "It would be easy to sit back, say we won this award and we're completely safe, but the hazards don't go away."
Since getting underway in January, Sacramento has tucked about 100 underway replenishments and numerous hours of flight operations under its safety belt. With every passing day, more and more hazards stack up, but given its track record, the Sacramento team will continue to safely knock them down.
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