Operations Specialist 2nd Class Dylan Cooke, attached to USS Preble (DDG 88), explains his idea for a shipboard oil filtration system. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jeff Troutman)

PEARL HARBOR - “The Bridge,” a program initiated by U.S. Pacific Fleet, hosted an open forum event March 11 for attendees to pitch thought-provoking and innovative ideas for improving standards and practices within the Navy.

“Participation in this program informs senior leadership of new ways to improve our Navy from the inside out,” said Cmdr. Rich Lebron, the program’s facilitator. “This is a Sailor-fueled forum that enables us to bridge the gap between the junior enlisted all the way to the admirals. It provides them with a voice to share their ideas to other subject matter experts, to see how those ideas are translated and received.”

Approximately 100 service members and DoD employees attended the program, with many pitching innovative ideas to the audience through videos, models or props. Ideas ranged from a shipboard oil filtration system, to drones that could help provide aid and relief to foreign countries in a state of emergency, to ways of improving morale at any given command. All ideas were welcomed and presenters were given the opportunity to field questions and input from both the audience and a five-member judging panel, who tallied the effectiveness of each idea proposed.

“There are so many different images around the world of what exactly the U.S. Navy is, specifically,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Forrest Jones during his proposal on cultural awareness within the Navy. “A cultural competency class for Sailors would go a long way towards making a contact point with people from other cultures. It would help present an image of service members – and the American people as a whole – that is, by and large, positive.”

The judge’s results for each idea presented will be tabulated and announced on March 31, where the three highest-scored ideas will be presented to Adm. Scott Swift, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet for dissemination.

“I think The Bridge program is a great idea,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Dylan Cook, who presented the shipboard oil filtration idea. “I believe everyone has good ideas, and bringing people together in a forum like this allows people’s voice to be heard and their ideas considered.”

“This program encourages thinking individuals who are actively trying to innovate and solve problems as a unit,” said Cmdr. Jeff Heames, commanding officer of USS Preble (DDG 88). “There is a need for innovation in our day-to-day operations. I want my Sailors to engage in problems and innovate good workable solutions. I want them to be engaged in their Navy. That kind of thinking will help them perform better in the training forum.”