SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) returned April 30, from a 14-day visit to Japan and Singapore, where he engaged the fleet and updated them on the status of the Navy.
MCPON(SS/SW) Rick D. West spoke to Sailors and Navy civilians throughout the trip, asking questions and more importantly, answering them.
"Ask me anything," said West, to a crew of Sailors aboard USS McCampbell (DDG 85) in Yokosuka, Japan. "I am here for you, and I want my trip report to the CNO to be a complete one."
Many questions continued to focus on manning concerns, namely Perform-To-Serve (PTS) and the Enlisted Retention Board (ERB).
"If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have told you PTS wasn't doing what we needed it to do, only four or five requests out of 10 were being approved," said West, during an all hands call in Okinawa, Japan. "Now, as painful as ERB was, PTS is working with eight or nine out of 10 being approved. I hope it stays the way it is currently."
The questions were not all business though, as many Sailors had two new questions for MCPON concerning his retirement and the new MCPON.
"I've always wanted to learn how to fly fish," said West, in response to a Sailor aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) in Sasebo, Japan. "I'd also like to stay engaged with Sailors in the Navy in some way, shape or form; I love this stuff."
A group of first class and chief petty officers huddled around MCPON, school circle style, following a CPO365 run in Yokosuka, Japan. They all wanted to know how the search for the new MCPON was progressing.
"I am keeping out of the process in the beginning," said West. "Here very soon I expect to have three to five names on my desk. I hope to have a name for you in June or July."
Despite not knowing who his relief will be, MCPON is already prepared with a bit of pass-down information.
"One piece of advice I have for my successor is, listen to the Sailors," said West, on board USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in Sasebo, Japan. "We have the best Sailors the Navy [has] ever had, right here, right now."
If there was one message MCPON had for Sailors stationed in this region it was carpe diem, or seize the day.
"My biggest regret was that I was never stationed in Japan," said West, while in Sasebo, Japan. "I've been here (Japan) about 70 or 80 times, but I was never stationed here. You are so lucky to have this chance, take advantage of it every chance you have."
He reiterated that sentiment to Sailors in Singapore.
"Look around you shipmates," said West. "You are 84 miles from the equator, and within one hour you could be in Malaysia, Indonesia, or Thailand. It doesn't get any better than this."
MCPON finished the journey by touring the Singapore Discovery Center, Singapore Army Museum, and Singapore's version of the Hale Koa Resort, The Chevrons, with the Singapore Navy's MCPON, Phui Peng Sim, the former Singapore MCPON, Roger Seow, and several other Singapore navy chiefs.
"Our Navy's are bonded together by the fierce teeth of the ocean," said West. "Our friendship grew stronger here today, and I truly thank you."
Fleet engagements are intended to provide senior leadership with a frontline assessment of Sailors and what they are doing in the Fleet.
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