MCPON visits Pearl Harbor Submarines Discusses Hot Button Issues with Sailors
by JO2 Corwin Colbert, COMSUBPAC Public Affairs

Photo caption follows
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Terry Scott addressed the crew of USS Buffalo (SSN-715) on various issues, such as uniforms, advancement, and the future of the Navy. Scott visited the nuclear-powered attack submarine on Jan. 31.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Terry Scott spent the afternoon with the crews of USS Louisville (SSN-724) and USS Buffalo (SSN-715) on Jan. 31.

Scott said he wanted to spend some time with Sailors in the Pacific Fleet, where he answered questions on uniform issues, advancement, and the future of the Navy.

The hot topic of the day was the possible change to Navy uniforms. Scott said the Navy is considering new uniforms after surveys showed personnel dissatisfied with the current versions. Navy officials are testing four working uniforms and four service uniforms. Input from the enlisted and officer communities was taken into consideration when developing the new uniforms.

Scott said a key aim of the uniform changes is to reduce the overall size of the sea bag. The quality of uniforms is also being evaluated. For instance, the current utility uniform is designed to last six months. The new working uniform is designed to last 18 months. According to the MCPON, what is left in the sea bag should be practical.

“One of the things I was always frustrated with was that our uniforms do not effectively protect us from the elements we face,” he said.

The crews then asked what came next in the evolution of future rate testing cycles. He said there are two different groups working on various concepts. The exam center in Pensacola, Fla., has been working on an automated version of advancement exams. The idea was developed to test Sailors on actual knowledge of the rate instead of trivial questions.

Another group is determining if a fully mature Five Vector Model can be used to develop a competency-based exam. Basically, all the vector categories would be combined to create a score that would be stacked against other scores.

“This past September the Navy had the first web-based exam for 100 Aerographer’s Mate Seaman. Instead of the normal written exam, they were presented different weather conditions and other visually–based material. This way they were being tested on their skill,” said Scott.

MCPON emphasized the results may be a combination of the two ideas and would take some time before it is actually implemented. Rushing the idea would be disastrous, according to the MCPON.

“We are talking about 320,000 Sailors’ careers. That is not something we want to mess with,” he said.

He then addressed the five-year sea, two-year shore rotation proposal. He explained the Navy would become more sea-based and that there was a need to keep Sailors focused on the skills they acquired. There would still be some shore duty billets for jobs such as ‘A’ school instructors and recruiters.

“The purpose of this proposal is to get away from general shore duty billets where Sailors are doing things outside of their skill set,” he said.

Scott, a former submariner, felt at home when boarding the two nuclear-powered attack submarines. As MCPON, it is his job to be “Navy-centric” and not to emphasize any particular community. However, he did mention the importance of the Submarine Force from his own experience.

“Even though our submarines aren’t making a visible contribution to the global war on terrorism, what they do away from the public eye is absolutely essential and invaluable to protect our
people from terrorists who threaten the democracy that this country was founded on,” he said.

FT3 Christofer Framel, USS Louisville, briefed the MCPON on the latest fire control systems technology and advancements. After Scott addressed the crew, Framel said it is nice to see people like MCPON come and talk to Sailors directly. He also felt all his questions were answered.

“My main question was about the new uniforms. I was concerned about what were the real reasons for the change and when would the final decision be made,” said Framel.

After the visit, Scott had a very important message to deliver to all Sailors.

“Our jobs have a certain degree of risk to them. In addition, as we have seen, not only in Iraq, but in other hazardous areas, these risks are a part of what we do in the Navy,” he said. “However, what is most regretful is the loss of life that can be prevented. We lose hundreds of Sailors every year to motor vehicle accidents. I ask every Sailor to take responsibility for themselves and their shipmates to ensure we are not going to lose any more Sailors than we have to,” concluded Scott.


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Cover of Undersea Warfare Magazine Winter 2005