USS MILIUS, At sea - First class and chief petty officers aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) continue to follow the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) 365 program while deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
CPO 365 gives first class petty officers (FCPOs) year-round training on becoming a chief; in the past, CPO selectees became a chief over the course of six weeks.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West developed CPO 365. It consists of three phases: Phase 1, Building a Foundation, is for FCPOs who took the E-7 Exam; Phase 2, Tasks and Qualification to Strengthen Leadership Skills, is for selection board-eligible FCPOs; and Section 3, Enhanced Development, is for chief selectees.
"It is important for first classes to learn from the Chiefs' Mess and big Navy what is expected of them," said Chief Gunner's Mate Celestino Martinez, Milius' CPO 365 coordinator. "The experience level of the Navy has changed, so it is important to interact with the first classes early to build a stronger [Chiefs'] Mess."
CPO sponsors and FCPOs aboard Milius work closely together during CPO 365 discussing naval heritage and current policies.
"The CPO 365 program is a great way for first class petty officers to not only see, but experience the vantage point of the chief petty officer," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Stephen Harris. "It also gives us the opportunity to share our thoughts with, and learn from, other first classes and chiefs. You truly get out of it what you put in to it."
The weekly training has proved beneficial to both parties, according to Command Master Chief Lisa Thomas.
"Having first classes paired with chief sponsors from different departments strengthens the ship. I see the lines of communication begin to open," said Thomas. "It shows prospective chiefs the value of being part of a mess, and it shows my mess the strengths of the FCPOs. All of this is made possible by the training and joint functions."
In addition to the knowledge that is being gained from their CPO sponsors, the FCPOs are also becoming physically prepared for the initiation process. Physical fitness sessions have helped build esprit de corps among the deckplate leaders.
The physical fitness sessions have become so popular other crew members have started participating.
"Seeing the chiefs and first classes outside doing PT and having fun is very motivating," Fire Controlman 2nd Class Lacey Skidmore said.
The San Diego-based Milius, deployed independently, supports maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.