SAN DIEGO (NNS) - Command master chiefs (CMCs) and senior enlisted leaders (SELs) from Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) gathered for the CMC/SEL Symposium hosted by SURFOR's force master chief at the Island Club on Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., Nov. 30 to Dec. 1.

The enlisted leaders discussed different aspects of the fleet, pooling their knowledge and experience to find new ways to improve the readiness and effectiveness of the ships and Sailors.

Topics were broken down into leadership, manning, discipline, training and other areas that make up the day-to-day lives of Sailors.

"Some of our topics are specifically designed to educate our chief's mess," said SURFOR's Force Master Chief (SW) Eric Page. "When I educate the chief's mess, it allows me the opportunity to have that direct influence to educate our Sailors on the deckplate. That's what this point is, to educate our senior enlisted leaders who are tasked with making sure that the chief's mess and deckplate are trained and educated in all the things that affect our daily lives."

Several guest speakers addressed the forum, including SURFOR Chief of Staff Capt. John Gelinne, who discussed challenges and initiatives for tomorrow's Navy, and SURFOR Executive Assistant Capt. Michael Elliott, who talked about improving readiness through the "Surface Warfare Enterprise."

Force Ombudsman Stephanie DuBose and Mrs. Towanda Curtis, wife of Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, commander, Naval Surface Forces, discussed family readiness.

Sixty-two CMCs and SELs, from surface ships and shore commands, attended the conference, making it one of the biggest gatherings in the symposium's recent history. This was the first year mine-countermeasure ships were involved in the symposium.

"The symposium is a great pool of knowledge and experience we can use to help us work out problems we're seeing on our ships," said USS Port Royal (CG 73) Command Master Chief (SW/NAC/FMF) Michael Fasano. "Talking to each other about different approaches we've used to fix the same problems allows us to figure out the best solutions."

The command senior chief program is doing well, said Page.

Out of the personnel in the command senior chief program, 77 percent were selected for master chief in 2010.

"Every time we get together, it gets better and better," said Page. "It allows us to make significant changes, and to put people on the same page so that we're all doing the same things and talking with one voice, which is really important for command leadership."

Naval Surface Forces, headquartered in San Diego, is comprised of more than 160 surface ships and more than 50 support and maintenance commands. Naval Surface Forces provides operational commanders with well-trained, highly effective and technologically superior surface ships and Sailors.

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