SAN DIEGO- The very nature of bringing a ship to life and into active duty entitles her crew to many firsts. Milestones are many including: christening, sail-away, commissioning and arrival at homeport. After pinning its first two Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists (ESWS) recipients last week, the crew of USS SPRUANCE (DDG 111) now has another first to celebrate.
In front of the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, Command Master Chief and crew, Personnel Specialist Second Class Petty Officer Tran B. Trinh and Operations Specialist Third Class Petty Officer Lacey G. Johnson became the first Sailors to earn their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) qualification onboard SPRUANCE. The event marked the culmination of many months of hard work, study, preparation, and boards for the two Sailors, who were fittingly pinned during a celebration of Women’s History month on SPRUANCE’s Messdecks. For several months, the large ESWS Qualification board was barren with one hundred and forty five empty brass plates, but no more.
The process of becoming qualified required persistence in order to gain an understanding of SPRUANCE and how she operates. The range of knowledge is broad and requires cross-rate cooperation and support. Each wearer of the ESWS insignia must be competent in shipboard 3-M, Damage Control, his/her own rating, and possess an advanced knowledge of the ship’s systems and capabilities.
Both PS2 (SW) Trinh and OS3 (SW) Johnson proudly wore their pins and explained just how much it meant to them. OS3 (SW) Johnson exclaimed “I am honored to be recognized as one of SPRUANCE’s first-ever ESWS qualifier onboard. I was so happy I got it and now I can move onto other qualifications out of rate and get more sleep underway.” This sentiment was shared by PS2 (SW) Trinh who also looked forward to sleeping a bit more at sea. “I am very excited at what I’ve done, but also relieved that it’s behind me,” explained Trinh. Within minutes of the pinning, pictures commemorating PS2’s achievement appeared on Facebook. “I received a lot of comments and it made me realize what I’d accomplished.”
The contributions of others to their achievement were not lost upon the Sailors. Mastering concepts from other departments requires continued support from every rate. For Petty Officer Trinh, the time invested with the engineers was especially memorable. “They made a gas turbine engine understandable for a Personnel Specialist. I especially enjoyed drawing pictures with them which vastly contributed to my understanding.” OS3 (SW) Johnson specifically expressed that having talked to so many different people and receiving their assistance helped bring the whole ship’s mission together. That sense of helping others will remain with them as they are each required to personally mentor two more individuals through the qualification.
“These two have been down a long road and showed continued commitment,” commented Command Master Chief Gregory W. Radel. “I remember receiving my ESWS pin nineteen years ago and the pride that came along with it.” Being the first, there were many challenges to both the Petty Officers and to those who assessed their progress. “The command learned as much about the process and about setting expectations for the program as the two learned about their ship,” expanded Radel.
“ESWS is a challenging professional qualification,” stated SPRUANCE’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tate Westbrook. “The pin sets you ahead of your peers and is a symbol of a major achievement of professional knowledge and effort.” Watching the ESWS Qualification board fill with names is something that every captain hopes to see during his time in command, but watching the first two posted will be especially memorable for SPRUANCE’s original Commanding Officer. “Those boards will grow over the years, and they will stay mounted for the 40 year life of the ship. About ten to twelve years from now, someone will point at those first two names and say ‘that little brass plate there is from when Master Chief Trinh or Johnson earned her ESWS pin when she was Petty Officer back in 2012.’ ”