OCTOBER 12, 2016, Arabian Gulf (NNS) – One of the first challenges any junior Sailor or newly reported veteran faces when they begin a sea billet is getting their shipboard qualifications. The challenge often exists because of the time a Sailor can devote to the cause. Fortunately, for Sailors assigned to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike), the demanding underway schedule that began with the ship leaving Norfolk Naval Shipyard in August 2015 and continues on through the current deployment has provided that.
This has been exemplified by the Sailors of Ike’s Security department, who have made an especially outstanding attempt to get qualified. Many are taking advantage of being underway to earn warfare pins and achieve damage control, maintenance and job-related qualifications.
“We incorporated a four hour training block into their workdays so they can work on their qualifications,” said Chief Petty Officer Carly Bohannon, chief of Security’s Operations division. “Although they were apprehensive at first, the dividends are evident. It’s great to see the pride in their eyes and to see them begin to want more qualifications.”
The results are evident in numbers. Since June they have routed 318 job related and shipboard PQSs for a 29 percent qualification increase.
“In port we stand a lot of fixed posts, so it made it difficult to pursue all the qualifications we may have wanted,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelsey Workman, from Security department. “I hardly had anything before deployment and now I’ve skyrocketed with qualifications.”
Fulfilling the requirements to qualify for the oral required to obtain a warfare pin has also been made easier to get with all hands on board to train and give walkthroughs of their respective departments. Boards are held much more frequently than in port.
“Now is the time to try to get your pins,” said Chief Petty Officer Jamie Gilbert, Ike’s Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) program coordinator. “We won’t be holding boards as frequently near the end of deployment and after the post-deployment leave period.”
The ESWS qualification is Security personnel’s primary pin, and their leadership has set a goal for 100 percent qualification before the end of deployment. Since June, they have qualified 28 Sailors in ESWS.
“It took a lot of studying,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Martin Buehler from Security, who offered this advice. “Definitely study and make sure all your books are signed and dated before attending any tests or boards. I would recommend observing a few murder boards before sitting on one so that you get used to how they set it up.”
Having a mentor aboard can also help Sailors get answers and find a direction to their goals.
“My mentors have given me really good advice and helped me in getting all the qualifications I have,” said Security’s Petty Officer 3rd Class Jenna Merrill. “Having a mentor that understands what your goals are helped me set goals for myself and reach them.”
While in operational status, Ike has countless missions and areas of responsibility that play into the awesome power an aircraft carrier projects. What better way to learn and qualify in these facets than when you can see them firsthand?
“We have a really junior force and for many this is their first ship,” Bohannon said. “We tell them to be Sailors first. We want them to have an idea of what everyone aboard does so they can understand their piece of the puzzle. Understanding the different missions doesn’t just apply to the ship either, for them to have a grasp of everything going on around them is important at any shore installation as well. While it’s important for a Sailor to specialize in their individual responsibilities, a well-rounded Sailor understands the mission and the important role they play in making it a success.”