Detailers from PERS-41 Surface Warfare Officer assignments visited Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam this week and provided a professional development briefing to the surface warfare officers (SWO) community March 20 at Sharkey Theater.
The visit also included a Surface Navy Association SWO social event and spouses briefing hosted by Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.
“We’re giving community briefs to update all the surface warfare officers on the waterfront on where our community’s going and anything which has changed that they need to know about. We’re also doing ship visits, going to the ships that are here, spending time in the wardrooms talking to them. It’s a good opportunity for detailers to engage oneon-one with their constituents, the officers,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Fremming of PERS-41.
Capt. John Nowell, head of surface warfare assignments at Navy Personnel Command, led the presentation at Sharkey Theater. Topics discussed ranged from available opportunities for SWOs, command structure, promotion, compensation and education. During his presentation, Nowell outlined what the surface warfare career advantage entails. “I sum it up in three words: flexibility, service and opportunity,” he said.
He emphasized that it is important for his command to work with surface warriors so they can understand how to better manage their careers and also balance family life.
“We will get out to every ship, and we will also meet with spouses. We think families are what makes this possible,” Nowell said.
Priorities focused on at the event included also included building surface readiness, attracting and keeping the best personnel, providing capable officers, matching talent to the task and responding to fleet needs.
Ponds stated, “This is a great time to be a SWO … surface warfare officer. Over the past decade, our unique and comprehensive set of warfighting, managerial and leadership skills have been tried, tested and proven – ashore and afloat. As our nation rebalances its focus to the Asia-Pacific region, the surface warfare officer and enlisted community and the complex array of systems that we command will play a vital role in our Navy’s ability to execute its maritime strategy. In short, our Navy, especially the Surface Navy here in the Middle Pacific Region, must remain ready to respond at a moment’s notice to the call of our nation to protect and defend our values and virtues. As I like to say, ‘so goes our Navy, so goes our nation.’ Never has that been a more exacting statement than now. Our time is now, and we are ready.”
Capt. Dell Epperson, chief of staff of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said, “It is incredibly important for the PERS-41 detailer team to go face-to-face with our surface warriors here in Pearl Harbor. We don’t get the opportunity often, but they shape our future officers 10 to 15 years down the stream. So this is a golden opportunity for them to hear our concerns and for our surface warfare folks to understand what they need do to position themselves for the future.”
The SWOs in attendance at the briefing stated that they appreciated the opportunity to meet in person with the detailers from PERS-41.
“I appreciate the detailers being frank and open,” said Lt. j.g. Darek Marino. “It’s good to have this ‘face time,’” he said. Marino serves as a fire control officer on USS Chosin (CG-65).
Lt. j.g. Krystal Roberts called the presentation very informative. She said, “I didn’t know much about the specialties. That was interesting.” She’s currently a repair officer on the USS Crommelin (FFG 37) but said she will be assigned next to Littoral Combat Ship 3, the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3).
“I like the options we have as SWOs. It’s not a cookie-cutter path,” said Ensign Katarina Williams, a combat information center officer on Chosin. She explained that she appreciates the alternatives the career allows for female SWOs who want to have children.
Capt. John Figuerres, commanding officer of Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific and president of the Pearl Harbor Chapter of Surface Navy Association, emphasized the significance of the social evening hosted by the admiral.
“Rear Adm. Ponds is hosting this evening for surface warfighters with a goal of building not just partnerships but also relationships. We are stronger when we work together as a team.
Our Surface Navy Association sponsored the event and helped us with relationship-building at all levels,” Figuerres said.
“This week has been an opportunity to sharpen tools for our surface warfighters, provide 21st Century Sailor support, and build team-work and camaraderie. It’s been a good week, and I think we’re even more ready to tackle the challenges ahead,” Figuerres added.
Ponds said the evening social event on March 21 was designed to break down communication barriers and promote healthy dialogue between senior and junior officers.
“It was an honor to share the evening with Vice Adm. (ret.) Kihune, who personifies the tradition of honor, courage and commitment that we all aspire. As the first Hawaiian vice admiral, having served 35 years in the Navy uniform and as Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, VADM Kihune continues to dedicate himself to the professional development and personal growth of our Surface Warfare Officers and is an active supporter of the Pearl Harbor Surface Navy Association,” Ponds added.