USS KEARSARGE, At Sea — Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit have the opportunity to earn an U.S. Navy’s Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), at sea, during their 2013 deployment. Within the first two weeks more than 116 Marines have enlisted in the program.
“This class will teach the Marines what the different rates on ship do,” said Chief Petty Officer Nita F. Holliday, a Quemado, N.M., native, and legal officer aboard the USS Kearsarge. “It is beneficial for everyone on ship to have a general understanding on what everyone does. In the event of an actual emergency, everyone who went through this course would be able to employ themselves in a much more helpful and confident manner.”
Each Marine who volunteers to sign up for the program receives a booklet which is broken up into different sections by subject areas, and a roster filled with subject matter experts within their respective job field. The eleven subject areas include basic Navy knowledge, basic damage control, engineering, navigation and bridge watchstanding.
“In navigation for example, you will learn what the different flags represent,” said Holliday. “If I was present in the time of a man overboard and the quartermasters needed help, I would know which flag I would need to get for them to raise up to alert other ships of our status.”
The program is set up so it does not directly interfere with any operational commitments or duties. At their own pace, the Marine calls a point of contact from the roster, sets up a time to meet with the subject matter expert and receives information on the subject area. Once the lesson is complete, the Marine receives a signature in their booklet.
Once all the sections are signed and dated appropriately, one of the assistant coordinators for the course will proctor a 100 question written exam. After receiving an 80% or better, it is verified by the ESWS coordinator, paperwork for approval of the pin will be given to Master Chief David Randall, command master chief assigned to the USS Kearsarge. Finally, once enough Marines have completed all the prerequisites, an award ceremony will be held to award the pins. Although the ESWS pin is not authorized to be worn by Marines, the knowledge is applicable to all those participating in the program, to better themselves, their peers, and those they lead.
“I’m doing the ESWS course to learn more about the different parts of a Navy vessel and to better understand what they do to keep their ship running smoothly,” said Sgt. Calvin J. Eberhardt, an administrative specialist assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and an Americus, Ga., native. “This program gives me a chance to stand out among my peers by doing something positive. I hope Marines see my initiative and follow my footsteps. After completing this course I will be more prepared to instruct my junior Marines on the different aspects of ship life during future endeavors.”