Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ship of War 101

Fighting Freddy's time in the shipyard is almost complete, and we will soon be ready to return to our home at the Norfolk Naval Base. While critical to maintaining our ship in top fighting form, maintenance availabilities also provide unique and challenging opportunities for both me as Commanding Officer and my Sailors. So one of the things we have done each week while we have been in the shipyard is to host a weekly Captain's Call every Friday just before lunch. Of course, my Sailors would probably tell you it was just a chance each week for me to work on my improv routine, but I found it was a great way to communicate both weekly successes and challenges before we put down Aloha Friday liberty call. With so many strategic events happening in the Navy (both on the operational and personnel sides of the Fleet), it has also proven to be an opportunity for me to address our schedule, future operations, training, upcoming events, and weekend safety. My favorite part of each weeks Captain's Call though has been the "Friday Follies."

Starting week one of the shipyard period, I used the Captain's Call to recognize top performers from each Department, but also point out things in which we didn't do so well - the point being to learn from our less than successes. After all the top performers and follies were recognized, I selected a single Sailor from the list of top performers to recognize with a command coin. That Sailor also received a large, framed piece of rusted deck. Rusted deck? Yep, rusted deck! The purpose of the framed piece of rusted deck was to remind everyone of our purpose for being in the shipyard - to take care of GONZALEZ. The winning Sailor then had to proudly display the framed rust in his or her workspace for the week.

At last week's Captain's Call, I also issued a completely different, but even more important reminder to my crew. I reminded them of the first line in our Command Philosophy: "GONZALEZ is a ship of war, designed to sail into harms way, dominate an enemy, and win our Nation’s wars." I reminded them that our shipyard period was coming to an end, we had friends and shipmates conducting important national security missions all around the globe, most recently highlighted by ships on station in the Pacific Rim and off the Horn of Africa, and that we needed to be ready if called. After many weeks in the shipyard, it just seemed like to right time to remind myself and my crew of our mission - Ship of War 101.

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