The Admiral's Eyes and Ears

Story Number: NNS200214-05Release Date: 2/14/2020 10:21:00 AM
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From Navy Region Northwest Regional Operations Center Naval Reserve Public Affairs

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- It’s late Saturday night and most of the Sailors stationed in the Pacific Northwest are asleep. But for Information Systems Technician 1st Class Yuvnesh Pillay, work has just started as he settles in with his second cup of coffee.

The steady lights of four computer monitors in front of him, the static of the hand radio beside him, and the silence of the phones to his left give Pillay a false sense of quiet as he stands as battle watch commander (BWC) for Commander, Navy Region Northwest.

The job isn’t easy. Across his monitor tracks a steady list of reports coming in from across 11 states. His watch includes the Navy’s third largest fleet concentration area, Puget Sound. For the next 24 hours, Pillay and his civilian counterpart, the battle watch specialist, will stand watch over their region, ready to report to leadership if a situation emerges.

The silence of the office is broken as the phone rings. It’s the command duty officer at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, who explains that there has been an incident involving a Sailor. Based on the event and the actions already taken, Pillay determines the admiral does not need to be notified. He logs the event and continues his watch.

“It’s not always immediately clear that the admiral should be notified,” said Pillay who explains that at any one time, there could be a dozen or more events occurring, everything from minor safety incidents to fatalities. Pillay must think fast as reports come in and weigh the facts as to whether his command’s senior officer needs to be notified. “These often require investigation and questioning before making the call. You have to make decisions quickly.”

Battle watch commander is a responsibility for senior enlisted or officer ranks, by regulation, because of the responsibility involved and the individual must act with the admiral’s authority. Exceptions are case-by-case and must be approved by the chief of staff of the region.

“Without the battle watch team, we’re blind,” said Rear Adm. Scott Gray, commander, Navy Region Northwest. “By maintaining situational awareness across the region, our active and reserve Sailors help ensure we focus on the right priorities, at the right time. That’s critical to maintaining the safety and security of the region.”

As a Reserve Sailor assigned to Naval Reserve Navy Region Northwest Regional Operations Center, Pillay and his unit spend most of their drill weekends and annual training supporting the active duty watch floor, known as the ROC.

Standing as battle watch commander on weekends and holidays is a key part of how Pillay’s Reserve unit supports the active duty operations center and maintains the Reserve force’s ability to quickly integrate into the operations center in the event of a mobilization.

“Having Reserve Sailors standing the watch is a great benefit to our active duty Sailors as it allows them relief to focus on additional regional tasking and also helps us integrate and prepare our Reservists in the event the ROC is activated,” said senior battle watch commander, Lt. James Wilkerson.

As the sun rises over the northwest region’s 11 states from Minnesota to Alaska and as Naval Station Kitsap comes to life with the daily routine of Navy business, Pillay remains hard at work, finishing the daily status report for command leadership and beginning watch turnover with the ongoing watch stander, a fellow Reservist.

“I take a lot of pride in standing this watch,” said Pillay. “A lot of trust is placed in me to be vigilant and make the right call and every time I stand watch I can see how I am directly contributing to the safety of the region.”


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