SAN DIEGO (NNS) - The winner of the 2010 Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale Award addressed 36 ensigns graduating from the San Diego Surface Warfare Officers (SWOS) Indoctrination Course at a ceremony held at Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) headquarters Nov. 19.
Cmdr. Michael McCartney offered the new surface warfare officers advice based on his leadership experiences and those of commanders throughout history.
The Stockdale award is presented annually to two naval officers, one from the Atlantic Fleet and one from the Pacific Fleet. They are selected from a group of peer-nominated commanding officers (CO) below the grade of captain, who best exemplify the enduring inspirational leadership of Stockdale, who was a prisoner of war for eight years in Hoa Lo prison in North Vietnam.
"As the CO, when the shells and torpedoes are coming inbound, you can do one of four things - speed up, slow down, turn right or turn left...90 percent of the time it won't make a bit of difference," said McCartney. "What's going to make the difference is going to be the individual person, or team, that is at the point of the attack. At the absolute moment something needs to happen, they're going to do the right thing. The CO's job is to make sure the ship is trained and to make sure the equipment is ready. Your job is to be ready when that happens."
"Are you going to be prepared? That's your task," said McCartney.
McCartney also emphasized to the graduating class the importance of adhering to standards.
"When meeting Navy standards, you have to be consistent," said McCartney. "It isn't about being nice or giving people a break, it's about meeting and enforcing that Navy standard. When getting ready to land an airplane, pilots follow the same procedures every time. They may fly that airplane thousands of times, but they do it the same way every single time. The same thing applies to us, whether it's doing a 3M (Material Maintenance Management Program) spot check or executing watch-standing principles. It sets you and your Sailors up for success. Sailors will work hard to meet your expectations, but if your expectations don't meet the Navy standard, then your Sailors will not be prepared when the CO or some outside organization comes aboard to inspect."
The SWOS Indoctrination class honor graduate, Ensign Matthew Piety, was presented a set of binoculars by the San Diego Surface Naval Association in acknowledgment of his academic achievement and professionalism.
"I am very excited to be selected as the SWOS Indoc honor graduate," said Piety. "I am looking forward to taking what I learned these last few weeks and what I heard here today back to USS Thach (FFG 43) and my job as a division officer."
"The day you raised your right hand and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America is the day you became a professional Sailor," said McCartney. "Living up to Navy standards is something you are accountable for. We are responsible for holding ourselves and each other accountable for our actions."
The four-week course is affectionately called, "Baby SWOS," and focuses on improving warfighting readiness through interactive lectures, simulator training and exposure to senior leadership. The class is designed to empower new surface warfare officers by providing them with the basic knowledge and skills to make an immediate impact on the ships to which they are assigned.
Students dive into practical, hands-on training to learn about damage control, engineering, navigation, seamanship, ship handling and maritime warfare during the first four weeks; a fifth and final week is focused on leadership development.
"Feedback shows that students particularly took to the on-the-job training," said Lt. Diane Mayhugh, director of SWOS Indoctrination, Afloat Training Group Pacific. "It's great to have their training experience conclude at SURFPAC headquarters, the same place SWOS students graduated from 30 years ago."
SWOS Indoctrination is offered in San Diego; Norfolk; Everett, Wash.; Pearl Harbor; and Yokosuka, Japan; and has graduated more than 800 students since it began in 2008.
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