Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West visits the USS PRINCETON (CG59) 

SAN DIEGO, CA  - Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West speaks to Sailors on the Mess Decks of USS PRINCETON (CG 59). (U.S. Navy file photo)
MCPON Rick West Visit to USS PRINCETON 
by Fire Controlman Third Class Benjamin J. Orcutt, USS PRINCETON (CG 59) 
SAN DIEGO, CA - Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West visited the USS PRINCETON (CG 59) on 4 August 2011, to take a short tour and meet sailors during his stop at Naval Station San Diego.  MCPON (SS/SW) West is the highest ranking enlisted member within the Navy and acts as a spokesman to the Chief of Naval Operations for enlisted personnel matters.

As the MCPON crossed the quarterdeck on PRINCETON and made his way to the Chief’s Mess. This was to be a closed affair open only to Chiefs and Chief Selectees.Once inside, he had some words of advice for the Mess, and especially the Selectees. Afterwards, Electronics Technician Chief (Select) (SW) Christopher DeLeon remarked, “He fit an hours’ worth of wisdom into about 25 minutes.”No doubt this was an exciting experience for the new Chiefs in training.

While the crew of the PRINCETON conducted Anti-Terrorism drills onboard, MCPON West toured a few spaces in the short time his schedule allowed. Along the way, he stopped to shake the hands of nearly every sailor he saw, offering some of his time for questions and greetings.

After he left the Chief’s Mess, the MCPON’s next stop was the crew’s messdecks, where he took questions from some of the junior sailors. One of the first sailors he met was Gunners’ Mate Seaman Amanda Knabe, whose question concerned the Gunners’ Mate rating. “Why is the GM rating closed to strikers?”  To which the MCPON replied, “Manning basically comes down to numbers, and when a candidate comes from A School, the Navy is able to have a definite number of sailors that are going to be sent to the fleet. So, some sailors looking to strike to a certain rate may not be getting looked at due to a manning imbalance that exists.” The MCPON also talked with some of the sailors about their experiences during Los Angeles Navy Week from the previous weekend.

The MCPON’s last stop was Central Control Station, where Gas Turbine Systems Technician Electrical Third Class Petty Officer William Merritt was standing watch. “He was just interested in my rate and job description and I gave him a summary on Smart Ship Controls.” MCPON’S tour came to an end here, as his entourage was forced to keep him on his busy schedule.

He departed the Ship, saying of his visit, “I always get excited walking across the plank of one of our ships and seeing what’s going on in the fleet. I’ve met a lot of top quality sailors today and from them I can see that the USS PRINCETON is a ‘can do’ ship. I’m looking forward to seeing the great things to come from you guys in the near future.”

USS PRINCETON (CG 59) is currently stationed in San Diego, CA working through a training cycle which will prepare them for next deployment.

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