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SAN DIEGO (Oct. 26, 2017) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, speaks to Chief Petty Officers enrolled in the Senior Enlisted Propulsion Engineering Course (SEPEC) about the core principals of sound shipboard operating. SEPEC is a five-week course offered to Chiefs on their way to shipboard duty in order to better prepare them for the challenges of leadership at sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lenny LaCrosse/Released)
Engineering Course Prepares Leaders for the Fleet

SAN DIEGO, (NNS) – Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, stopped by the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) Engineering Schoolhouse to speak to the chief petty officers (CPOs) enrolled in the Senior Enlisted Propulsion Engineering Course (SEPEC).

The course is five weeks of instruction designed to train engineering department CPOs on supervision and operation of a shipboard engineering department. Fourteen CPOs, all from different commands and different engineering rates, are taking part in this iteration of the course.

“This course has been going on for many years,” said Master Chief Engineman Paul Gurrola, core supervisor of SEPEC at SWOS San Diego. “Back in 2013, the course received an overhaul where it went from two-weeks to five-weeks. During the first three weeks we focus on the core programs needed to run the engineering department. At the end of week three we break off and focus on specific strands.”

Students come from and are headed to commands that operate on different strands; diesel, steam and gas turbine. During the last two weeks of the course, they focus on the specific strand that applies to the platform they will be working on.

“It’s a melting pot of experience and knowledge from different leadership on different platforms,” Gurrola said. “To be able to share all of that is a great opportunity for a chief that maybe has been away for a few years on shore duty, or a new chief who can really feed off of this information.”

Rowden spoke to the class about the value he puts on the SEPEC program, and the attitude he expects the CPOs to carry back to the fleet.

“You’ve got to think about how you’re going to lead the men and women in your command,” Rowden said to the class. “How are you going to instill your high standards in them; encourage them; incentivize them; praise them?”

The topic for discussion was Sound Shipboard Operating Procedures (SSOPs), which employ the core principles of integrity, level of knowledge, formality, questioning attitude, forceful backup, and procedural compliance.

“Your roles could not be more important, as we put a concerted focus on adherence to our Sound Shipboard Operating Procedures and their supporting processes,” Rowden said.

He encouraged the CPOs to push the mission, the ship’s mission, which is to fight and win, to fight like they train, and to train under the SSOPs.

“Are you willing to do what it takes to instill those standards in the men and women that you lead,” Rowden asked.

“From this point forward, I charge you with being the standard bearer for developing confidence in, and competency of your ships systems,” Rowden said. “Be a role model, uncompromising in character. Shape the culture around you. Adhere to the six core principles of sound shipboard operating principles.”

SWOS San Diego offers SEPEC approximately every two months. Sailors can sign up for the course, which is written for E-7 and above, through the Catalog of Navy Training Courses (CANTRAC), or contact SWOS San Diego Engineering Schoolhouse directly.

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