Watch Standing Teaches Recruits Importance of Ship's Safety

Story Number: NNS151022-09Release Date: 10/22/2015 9:57:00 AM
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By Susan Krawczyk, Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Among the many areas of training taught to recruits during their eight weeks of boot camp at Recruit Training Command (RTC), Great Lakes, one particular responsibility that is essential to each ship and division's compartment is watch standing.

Each ship (barracks) at RTC can hold up to 12 divisions. Each division is responsible to stand watch in their compartment as well as man the quarterdeck of each ship. The time length of duty varies from two hours at night to four hours during the day for the compartment watch.

"Watch standing is very similar to a nurse doing their rounds at a hospital. The Sailor has a work shift at an assigned post or area of responsibility," said Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Terry Brisco, recruit liaison officer. "During their shift, they're responsible for security and cleanliness of their designated area, documenting any out of the ordinary happenings and the comings and goings of designated personnel."

Seaman Recruit Brian Crosby, from Division 950, graduates from boot camp on Oct. 23. During his time at boot camp, Crosby has learned the importance of standing the watch.

"It's essential to learn how to stand watch because we're going to be standing several different types of watches out in the Fleet, so this is a good introduction to what is going to be expected of us when we get there," said Crosby.

The recruit watch also must maintain the division's deck log - an official document that records everything taking place within the compartment.

"We have to document everything whether it's a Recruit Division Commander's (RDC) training time, or something such as the division departing for or returning from chow. It all gets recorded. If there's something within the compartment that's off spot, we have to document that. You have to be very meticulous and thorough and have attention to detail," said Crosby.

Often times it will require the Sailor to rove, or "make rounds," in a large area looking for anything not normally belonging in the space. This could be anything from a suspicious package to oily rags in a pile causing a fire hazard.

The watch is also required to report on anything within eyesight even if it is beyond their designated area.

"In the Fleet when you're out on duty, you miss birthdays, holidays, and all kinds of things because duty takes precedence," said Chief Culinary Specialist Moses Brathwaite, RDC. "Even after graduation, the new Sailors are required to stand duty even if they have family in town. This teaches them the importance of watchstanding before they're out in the Fleet."

While newly graduated recruits scheduled to depart RTC the day following graduation are typically exempt from standing watch, there is always a chance for anyone to have duty.

Additionally, watchstanders are in charge of making sure colors (flag raising and lowering) take place, make any general announcements over the intercom, and grant permission to recruits requesting to go ashore or come aboard.

"This is the military. Duty and watchstanding are essential to maintain a safe and secure ship," said Crosby. "When standing watch, you know you are responsible for the entire compartment or ship and it just might be you who will prevent anything detrimental from happening."

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Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Dennis Tea, from Houston, welcomes Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
150624-N-IN729-008 SAN DIEGO (June 24, 2015) Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Dennis Tea, from Houston, welcomes Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) while standing messenger of the watch. Ronald Reagan is homeported at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan McFarlane)
June 26, 2015
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