Adm. Scott Swift presents Cmdr. Jeffery Heames the 2015 SECNAV Innovation Award for the innovation leadership category. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Tamara Vaughn)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, presented Cmdr. Jeffery Heames, commanding officer of USS Preble (DDG 88), the 2015 SECNAV Innovation Award for the innovation leadership category during Heames’ change of command ceremony, April 22.

“I am thrilled to be here. The work of the crew of Preble is personally known to me,” Swift said during the ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “Preble’s fleet reputation as an innovator first came to me in the form of an e-mail from the Seventh Fleet commander, explaining in detail some pretty impressive, innovative actions Jeff Heames and his crew took during operations.”

Under Heames’ leadership, Preble’s Sailors developed more than 54 innovative concepts, ranging from new warfighting tactics and techniques, to streamlined administration and operational improvements, to safety management tools and practical mariner innovations.

“Innovation is a responsibility of the entire command,” Swift added. “There’s a reason ships don’t have an ‘innovation department,’ or an ‘innovation flying squad.’ It is not the responsibility of a select few; it is the responsibility of all. Innovation has to be part of all that we do. It is part of who we are. It is our heritage as U.S. Navy Sailors. And it is clearly a core characteristic of the entire Preble crew.”

The SECNAV Innovation Awards Program seeks to recognize top talented Sailors, Marines and civilians or teams who made significant innovative achievements in Calendar Year 2015. The establishment of the Innovation Awards Program was part of a larger effort to incentivize contributors and leaders of innovation across the Navy. These efforts include empowering and rewarding innovators by incorporating innovation into performance reviews and providing cash rewards.

Heames, who turned over command of Preble to Cmdr. John Bowman, credits his successful leadership style and innovation efforts to having a good ship and a great crew.

“The leadership award is an incredible honor certainly, but it warms my heart to include my crew. In reality it is all of the Sailors that have truly made the difference,” Heames said. “The freedom we have to generate ideas is truly an American strength.”