GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- The amphibious command ship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) welcomed the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) during his first visit to Gaeta, Italy on Oct. 22.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick D. West was aboard for three hours, visited the Chief's Mess for lunch and addressed questions and concerns about deck plate leadership in the Navy. Specifically he addressed how the Chief Petty Officer mess is run throughout the Navy and stressed the importance of the Warfare Specialist programs, which helps professional growth for all Sailors in the Navy.
Following the luncheon, West attended an all-hands call on the main deck and congratulated and took photos with the Blue Jacket, Junior Sailor, and Sailor of the Quarter (SOQ) awardees.
"It was truly an honor to be presented the SOQ plaque by MCPON and the Commanding Officer. I never saw this coming and I am very thankful to have had this opportunity," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Jason Vaught. "MCPON struck me as a caring and down to earth person. It's great to receive the insight from a person who is so heavily involved with the decision making process that directly affects our Sailors now and into the future."
Moments after the ceremony, West made opening remarks and pointed out the importance of Sailors taking care of each other which is the right thing to do.
"I've been in the Navy for 29 and a half years and back in 1981, we didn't have the same opportunities offered today," said West. "Three words to remember: ship, shipmate, and self. That's how you stand out; it's about saving lives and becoming warriors."
West gave Sailors an opportunity to ask questions regarding the updates and changes in the Navy. Sailors asked questions ranging from Perform to Serve, Physical Readiness Training program, Selective Reenlistment Bonus program, and uniforms, to Assignment Incentive Pay benefits and Tuition Assistance.
"This was a great experience for the Sailors aboard the ship to meet and greet with MCPON first hand," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class (SW/SW) Carlene Martin. "His response to the questions was honest and it helped Sailors understand the changes and updates expected to occur in the Navy."
West departed Mount Whitney and will be traveling within the European region to include U.S. Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece; Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily; and Supreme Headquarters Allies Powers Europe in Casteau, Belgium, prior to returning to Washington, D.C.
Mount Whitney is the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
For more news from USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), visit www.navy.mil/local/lcc20/.