This month of October marks the 501h anniversary of when we introduced Senior Chiefs and Master Chiefs to the Navy. In October 1958, 1,060 Chiefs became the first group to be promoted to what was then known as the Super Chiefs. 146 were promoted to Master Chief and 914 became Senior Chiefs. These two new pay grades were established to provide for a better delineation of responsibilities in the enlisted structure. At that time, having only seven pay grades led to situations where E-7’s supervised E-7’s who supervised other E-7’s. It just didn’t make sense. The establishment of the E-8 and E-9 pay grades made it possible to properly distinguish between the different levels of responsibility while also providing monetary recognition for those in the new pay grades. Similar to today, eligibility for promotion to Senior Chief then was restricted to Chiefs with a minimum of four years in grade and a total of 10 years of service. For elevation from Chief to Master Chief, a minimum of six years as a Chief with a total of 13 years of service was required.
This leadership construct was immediately viewed as a success and certainly serves us well today. The inspirational leaders of 1958 set the standard for those of us in uniform today. We define Deckplate Leadership best in our Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles. “Chiefs are visible leaders who set the tone. We will know the mission, know our Sailors, and develop them beyond their expectations as a team and as individuals”.
One of our top 3 priorities continues to be the development of our people. There is no other group onboard a submarine that I rely more heavily on to achieve this priority than our Chief Petty Officers. Their charge is simple; they must train, develop and mentor those Sailors that they are entrusted to lead to the right standard. The right standard must be the Chief Petty Officer Standard. They must inspire their Sailors to achieve excellence and provide the personal example that makes every Sailor say “I want o be the Chief’. As Chiefs we arc considered leaders of the crew and must remember that our foremost responsibility is to our people, our team, both enlisted and junior officers. I think most Commanding Officers and Flag Officers will agree that they can attribute a measure of their success to a Chief, Senior Chief or Master Chief that put their arm around them when they were a Junior Officer and taught them how to be a good Sailor.
Just as it has been for the past SO years, this special group of individuals is Jed by the Chief of the Boat. Our process for selection to this critical position is solid. As the Force Master Chief, I think it is pretty easy to identify that young Chief Petty Officer that has a sparkle in his eyes and a strong desire to become a Chief of the Boat. His COB and other waterfront COB’s and Master Chiefs begin to mentor this Chief as he begins a rigorous qualifications process. These qualifications normally take about a year to complete. He will be required to obtain detailed knowledge on big Navy programs such as the Ombudsman, Career Development Boards, Chaplain services, and American Red Cross just to name a few. He will also have to develop detailed deployment augment plans, and deployment liberty briefs and liberty risk programs. He will act as the COB during an underway where he will supervise line handling evolutions; develop the plan of the week, watch bills and berthing bills. He must interview with 2 currently serving COB’s, XO’s and CO’s. Finally we will conduct a board with 2 squadron CMC’s and one serving COB before he is certified to become a COB. With the help from my Squadron and Group Master Chiefs, I will slate this prospective COB to a particular boat ensuring we match the right guy with the right CO/XO combination. Our COB process has been in place now for the past IS years with great success. We have been so successful that big Navy has modeled both the Command Senior Chief and Command Master Chief program after the Submarine Force COB program. This process has yielded outstanding COB’s like our 2006 Frank Lister award winner CM DCM Rick Atkins who just recently was selected by Admiral Giardinia as his new CMC for CSG-9. CMDCM Tom Mitchell is doing a fantastic job with our new Sailors in Kings Bay. He has set the standard in the Submarine Force on the sponsorship and indoctrination program. ETCM Tom Metcalf who is currently serving as a second tour COB on USS MICHIGAN was hand elected for this critical position on one of our newest warfighting SSGN’s. Tom’s previous COB tour on USS LOUISIANA yielded fantastic results; his command not only received the Deck Division “D” and Engineering “E” but also received the Battle “E” and the prestigious Strategic Command Omaha Trophy. He was also selected this year as the Pacific Submarine Force COB of the year. And finally, who could ever forget the COB of all COB’s. We like to refer to him as the COB Father. CMDCM Bob Bentley retired earlier this year. Bob was a 3 time COB and two time Squadron Master Chief. To his credit his final tour was probably his best, as he built a team onboard USS HAW All that set the precedence for early successful submarine new construction delivery. Hawaii was delivered over three months early. During Admiral Mullen’s two day ride, he commented that the Chiefs Quarters on board HAWAII was one of the finest he had ever observed. These are just a few examples of the talented COB’s we have leading our Force today.
But our talent just doesn’t end with our COB’s. The leadership that is provided by our nuclear trained senior enlisted leaders does not know limitations; it doesn’t stop at the water tight door. Senior Chief Jim Grant, currently serving as the EDMC on LOS ANGELES has done a superb job and is lauded as the best EDMC in the Pacific Submarine Force. Master Chiefs like Jerry Pittman, who came through the nuclear ranks, served as the Leading EL T on board the NEW YORK CITY, EDMC on the KEY WEST and COB on the BREMERTON and LOS ANGELES and now is finishing his tour as the CMC at Nuclear Power Training Com-mand, Charleston. This school develops about 2800 Officer and Enlisted students into sailors that understand the responsibility entrusted upon them by the American people to safely operate and supervise a nuclear reactor at sea and in foreign ports. His leadership is not stopping there: he will be relieved in January and take over as the Command Master Chief in U.S. CENTRAL COM-MAND IRAQ Detachment, in Bagdad.
Leveraging on the amazing example of the Chiefs, Senior Chiefs and Master Chiefs that came before us, we are able to inspire the new leaders of tomorrow. But it takes more than just inspiration to make good leaders. Our ED MC/Nuclear LCPO courses are off and running. With this new education and in conjunction with our Engineering Department Organization Manual rev1srnn, we have significantly reduced the administrative load and enabled our Engineering CPO’s to focus more on deck plate leadership. Most of these Engineering Chiefs have had only one other sea tour. Our new LCPO course will better prepare them and provide them with additional tools to ensure their success during their first LCPO tour.
These outstanding Senior Enlisted Leaders I have mentioned just scratch the surface of the talent we have within your Submarine Force today. As in all great organizations, our success is measured through the Sailors that we lead everyday. It energizes me to sec the enthusiasm, hard work and team work that happen daily on the deck plates of our boats. I can happily say that because of great leadership within our Chief Petty Officer ranks, we are more ready and capable now than ever to stand the watch at the tip of the spear.
We are making changes daily in the way we conduct business, we have a lot of irons in the fire. These changes include the way we operate, readiness, training, PRT and fitness, education …….. I could go on and on. Let me throw a few numbers at you. In the past 12 months, we saw a 17 percent reduction in illegal drug use. We saw our DUI numbers drop from the previous year by 8.6 percent, but more importantly a 7 .5 percent decrease from our Sailors on sea duty. 25 submarine crews have gone over a year without a DUI and USS HARTFORD has gone almost 2 years without an alcohol related incident. Great safe ride programs throughout the force have afforded our Sailor’s a great alternate opportunity if their liberty plan falls apart.
As a force we continue to take pride in our ability to retain properly trained, diverse and top performing Sailors. We have seen 181 fewer attrites and II 4 more Sailors reenlisted this year than last year. A total of 295 more warriors fighting the battle on our submarines. I attribute this directly to the efforts of our Chief Petty Officers. We have increased our emphasis on the people programs as highlighted in a recent NA V ADM IN entitled “Brilliant on the Basics”. Programs like Sponsorship, Indoctrination, Professional Development Boards, Mentorship, Ombudsman and personal recognition. Part of our jobs as Master Chiers is to ensure we never lose sight of these important programs and how they contribute to our operational readiness.
lier this year I had the honor of meeting our oldest living Submariner, Floyd SKIPPER Mathews as he celebrated his 105•h birthday party in Florence, Alabama with his family and several SUBSETS. Skipper has since past away, but at the time he was believed to be l of about 5 or 6 living WWI veterans. Unfortunately the night before his birthday party he had fallen ill and was not his normal spry self on the day of his party. I bent down in his ear to thank him for his dedicated service to our Submarine Force and to our great nation. As l presented him with a SUBFOR plaque and coin, he looked at me and had only one question. He said “Chief, do Chief Petty Officers still run the Navy today”? I looked at him and without hesitating, I said “your damn right we do Skipper”. He looked at me, nodded his head and just smiled. Just as in Skipper’s day, our Chiefs of today’s Submarine Force are leading the way and shaping our future. I am extremely proud of the Chief Petty Officers in your Submarine Force today.