SAN DIEGO (NNS) - Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) welcomed eight Sailors and their spouses for its annual Sea and Shore Sailor of the Year (SOY) Week, Feb. 21-25.

The week-long event is designed to honor each of the finalists for their contributions to their commands and local communities, while also evaluating their military bearing, professional performance and leadership skills, as they compete for the title Sailor of the Year.

"These Sailors are the best of the best," said Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis. "Each year the competition gets tougher; a Sailor of the year needs to be at the top of their assigned field, a clear standout within their command, an active participant in their community and constantly seeking to grow as a Sailor professionally and personally. This is one of my favorite times of the year, because I get a chance to engage the future of the surface force. I am in awe of the outstanding Sailors I meet in this competition."

Naval Surface Forces Force Master Chief Eric Page has been directly involved with the organization of the SOY program since being assigned to SURFPAC.

"This is a phenomenal program that provides leadership and board members an opportunity to get to know each candidate," said Page. "Through interviews, and interaction in-and-out of uniform throughout the week, you begin to see and appreciate what each of these outstanding Sailors is truly all about.

"They've already been selected from dozens of other Sailors of the Year from sea and shore commands, based on their job performance and the perception their command has of them. This process takes it one step further. These finalists represent more than 48,000 Pacific Surface Sailors from San Diego to Japan, based upon past experience, and their performance, I fully expect to see a minimum of 80 percent of these eight finalists to make chief petty officer this year," said Page.

In addition to board interviews and command events, Sailors are participating in a series of community outreach activities, which include meeting with Pearl Harbor survivors, visits to USS Midway Museum, the San Diego Zoo and other local attractions.

The finalists will attend professional development sessions at SURFPAC headquarters and on the waterfront, with a visit to the state-of-the-art littoral combat ship (LCS) trainer. The finalists' spouses are also scheduled to participate in the events with their Sailors and will be attending training and mentoring sessions hosted by Towanda Curtis, wife of Vice Adm. Curtis.

"It's very important to recognize the spouses during Sailor of the Year week," said Towanda Curtis. "The support the spouses give, and the sacrifices they make allow their Sailors to succeed at their jobs. A spouse is an integral part of the Navy whose role in the organization should be celebrated along with their Sailor."

The week will conclude with a banquet in Coronado, Calif., where the winners for SURFPAC's sea and shore Sailors of the Year will be announced. The winning sea and winning shore SOY will advance to the U.S. Pacific Fleet SOY competition.

The 2009 SURFPAC Sea SOY, Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Samira McBride, USS Lassen (DDG 82), went on to be the U.S. Pacific Fleet winner and was meritoriously promoted to chief petty officer.

The top 2010 sea finalists are:

Hull Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Gabriel Arroyo, USS Pinckney (DDG 91)

Gas Turbine Systems Electrical 1st Class (SW) Jose Carillo, USS Lake Erie (CG 70)

Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Angel E. Santos, USS Cape St. George (CG 71)

Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW) Jason S. Williams, USS Tortuga (LSD 46).

The top 2010 shore finalists are:

Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Katia J. Brito, PCU Coronado (LCS 4)

Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Edison Faggett, SURFPAC

Master-At-Arms 1st Class (SW/EXW) Diego Gamboa, PCU William P. Lawrence (DDG 110)

Cryptologic Technician Technical 1st Class (SW) Justin J. Zolnik, Afloat Training Group Pacific.

For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit or follow the Surface Force at

For more news from Naval Surface Forces, visit