SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) began taking advantage of a new program through the Navy's Human Capital Strategy (HCS) in October that allows chief petty officers (CPO) to assume the role as division officers (DIVO) aboard ship.
CPOs are taking on DIVO responsibilities in an experiment to determine leadership, training and professional requirements for CPOs to function successfully in that billet.
Chiefs already aboard serving as leading chief petty officers (LCPOs) will move into DIVO duties in 19 of Decatur's 23 divisions.
"The surface Navy is a continuous learning organization that looks to take advantage of our strengths," said Rear Adm. Terry Etnyre, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. "Chief petty officers are the backbone of the Navy, and allowing them more responsibility in this pilot program will develop lessons for potential future applications. The surface Navy is not doing away with division officers and not trying to solve a problem. We are interested in utilizing our enlisted talent in a new way in this experiment."
CPOs will be performing as division officers, reporting directly to department heads on the ship. Four first-tour division officers are remaining in their roles. Seven other DIVOs will be utilized in key watchstanding or collateral duty roles until they achieve their surface warfare officer (SWO) qualification, then transfer to a second-tour division officer billet on another ship.
"This will help keep an emphasis on professional leadership growth for chiefs in seagoing billets, as opposed to multiple similar LCPO jobs in their careers," said Etnyre. "It's an experiment that many of us are interested in seeing the results of. Using the knowledge, skills and abilities of our talented CPO workforce also ties in with Task Force Excel and Sea Warrior."
The experiment is scheduled to last for one full cycle (approximately two years), including a deployment.
"USS Decatur is excited to be part of this experiment," said Decatur's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Brian Nickerson. "The chiefs on board are great leaders and ready to step into the division officer billets. We are taking care of the departing officers, ensuring the opportunity for them to attain their SWO qualifications before transferring to another ship for their second DIVO tour."
"The enlisted crew is very excited about the opportunity to step up in their leadership roles, as well," added Decatur's Command Master Chief James Clements. "The chiefs will miss their role in training junior officers during the course of this experiment, but our team leadership on board Decatur is excited about this opportunity."
HCS does not just benefit CPOs and DIVOs, however. The program could also open doors for some junior personnel, as well.
"This opens up the opportunity for junior enlisted to move up to my role, so I can pursue greater responsibility in the division and in Combat Information Center watch stations normally manned by chiefs," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Erik Rabe of Decatur's combat systems department.
HCS is the Navy's plan for securing, managing and motivating a workforce to optimize performance through proper management of the Navy's human resources. This program, along with the SWO Specialty Career Path and 360 Degree Feedback programs, is part of the surface force's efforts in the Navy's Human Capital Strategy.
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